Neil Patrick Harris has defended his decision to cast Vanessa Hudgens in his upcoming stage directorial debut "Rent", insisting she will be "absolutely amazing" in the role. The former High School Musical star is set to play 19-year-old Mimi, a troubled HIV-positive stripper, in the musical when it hits the Hollywood Bowl for three nights this summer.
Harris, who starred in the Los Angeles production of "Rent" 1997, admits he is stunned by the backlash he's received from the play's cult fans, but he's adamant Hudgens, 21, is perfect for the part. He says, "I'm excited about Vanessa Hudgens. Everybody has gotten real prickly about it (since) I announced it. I don't know (why). I think she's amazing. Big RENT fanatics were like, 'Blasphemy! That's an outrage!' "
"I worked with Vanessa in a movie called Beastly that's coming out soon and I really liked her work ethic. She came in (to audition) and sang well... She's going to be absolutely amazing."