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Q & A with New Girl‘s Max Greenfield

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The hit FOX series New Girl returns tonight with the latest episode, “Cabin.” During tonight’s episode, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) go on a couples’ weekend with their significant others and Winston (Lamorne Morris) handles Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) latest antics.

New Girl's Max GreenfieldMax Greenfield, who is nominated for his first Golden Globe for his portrayal of Schmidt, recently opened up to press about his time on the show. Greenfield spoke about the “white guilt” that his character is experiencing during tonight’s episode, if he’s ever done anything that would result putting a dollar in the “Douchebag Jar,” and whether or not he thinks Schmidt and Cece should end up together.

In the upcoming episode, can you talk about the white guilt that Schmidt is feeling and what Winston does to help him out with it?

I think he sees Winston out and he’s hanging out with a bunch of other African-American guys, and I think Schmidt kind of, in his own naïve sort of way, somehow assumes that he’s being held back in the loft and is not feeling comfortable around white people, such as Schmidt and Nick and Jess and doesn’t feel like he can fully be himself. So he tries to, in his most idiotic of ways, tries to give Winston an opportunity to really spread his wings within the loft and Winston quickly realizes what he’s doing and how stupid he is, and kind of plays along with him and gets Schmidt really riled up and it turns into quite a wild adventure.

This has been the year of incredible guest stars. You guys have had Olivia Munn, Jamie Lee Curtis, RobRiggle; is there anybody you would like to see guest star on New Girl?

We get asked this all the time and all of a sudden I’ll see something on TV and I’ll be like, “Oh my God. I want him to be on the show.” So many people.

Is there an upcoming guest star that you’re really excited to work with?

Nelson Franklin comes back and he’s always a joy. Dennis Farina came on to play Nick’s dad.

He’s awesome.

He’s wonderful. We’ve been really lucky. The people who do our casting, Anya Colloff, is great. We end up getting some really good people.

Brooklyn Decker is also coming on the show as a character that the guys are all competing for. Is she just there for the one episode, or is that something that your character and hers are going to continue on with into future episodes?

As far as I know, she’s there for the one episode. She was fantastic. She was so good. She was with us all week, and she was really, really, really funny and sweet and just so much fun to have on the show.

Your character, Schmidt, can you relate to him in any way?

Of course. I think I definitely can. I think there are and there have been many moments in my life where I’ve tried just a bit too hard, and I think Schmidt is kind of settling into himself. And I think anybody can kind of relate to that. And he’s having difficulty kind of being comfortable in his own skin and as a result, puts a little too much effort into everything.

How much do you improv as Schmidt, if at all?

We definitely improv a little bit, but it’s the type of thing where you coming into a scene, you do it as scripted, and then certainly if it’s working, you want to then open it up a bit. It’s never like, oh, let me come in and have an improvisational workshop on set. So many of our writers are always on set and producers, and it’s sort of like a collaborative improvisation sometimes, where people are throwing things in and sometimes other actors are throwing things in. When it’s working correctly, it’s just unbelievable.

Have you ever done anything to warrant putting a dollar in the “Douchebag Jar”?

Oh, sure. Plenty of times. It’s usually just dumb things that my wife will just be like, “What’s wrong with you?”

Cast of New Girl.Everyone in the cast really has a lot of chemistry. Is there anyone you click with more or that you enjoy doing scenes with more than anyone else?

I certainly enjoy all the stuff I do with Hannah [Simone]. We have a really good time together. And Jake Johnson and I are always really happy to be together just ‘cause, for whatever reason, we’re not together a lot on the show. We don’t have a lot of storylines where it’s just me and him. We usually do like- maybe two or three a season. So, when we get the opportunity to kind of just have a one-on-one scene, it’s a lot of fun.

Regarding Schmidt and Cece, I know it looks like they’ve kind of found a comfortable place at the end of the Christmas episode, but I assume that does not mean that Schmidt is going to let this whole her being set up go off without a hitch.

He’s not. I think it’s every time they kind of make up, they get back to like, it seems as though he’ll go after her, he’ll totally screw it up, and then they’ll find a place in friendship, and once they get settled into like a normal friend/relationship, he feels the need to then go after her again.

So we can definitely expect more hijinks?

Oh, yes.

Is there any chance that they’ll get back together? And do you want to see them together?

I think there’s always a chance. And personally, yes, I’d like to see them back together. You try and play the character and make it personal as possible and at this point, Schmidt is working so hard to get back with her that I think I personally kind of want to just win already.

What were you doing when you heard the Golden Globes nomination, and how does it feel to be recognized?

Well, it feels wonderful, especially in such kind of an odd category, where they have people from movies, miniseries, dramas. And all of a sudden they’re like, “Well, the nominees are Ed Harris and ‘Schmidt’ from New Girl.” So, to hear that felt really nice.

It always feels nice to be recognized for the work that you do, and especially in such a kind of cool and big awards show like the Golden Globes. It’s going to be a lot of fun just to participate in an event like that.

As far as where I was, it was five in the morning and I was very much asleep.

Do you have any plans for the Golden Globes?

I like to dress up. I like to put on a spiffy outfit. So that I’m excited about. I’m excited about when the show starts to end, and you can kind of loosen up your bowtie and unbutton like the first two, and let the bowtie hang loose. That’s always a cool look. Like you’re on the cover of the movie, Diner. That’s exciting.

It’s going to be a great night. You get to celebrate the fact that you have a job and that you’re working; that it’s going well and that people are responding to you. I plan on dancing quite a bit.

Did you know when you first read for Schmidt that this was a role that was going to be a breakout part?

Oh, I was just so happy that I go to audition for the show, let alone get the role. It’s so funny when people ask me about like – that I had some sort of like choice or hope to- I read the material and really responded. I was so excited to get the audition and just hoping to give a good read for people like Liz Meriwether and Jake Kasdan. And then to get the job, I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” And then it certainly worked out.

Could you tell me a little bit about your new film, They Came Together, that you filmed this past summer?

Oh my God. I’m very excited about this. David Wain and Michael Showalter wrote it. David directed it. It stars Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, who were about the biggest dream I could ever ask for to go work with. I would find myself in scenes with them and I would like, just watching. I realized, I was like, “You probably should pay attention to where you’re supposed to be in the scene and not just be going, ‘How are they doing this?’” They were just two of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with. I played Paul’s brother, and it’s just one of the funniest movies. I had such a good time on it. It was a real blast.

Working on this film and working on New Girl, do you prefer working on TV more than working on a film or vice versa?

I don’t know. A lot of it’s all the same. I think the best days are the days where everything is clicking and it’s working and you’re having fun and you’re with the people that you really enjoy working with. Those days, whether it’s on a film or TV, are just heaven.

You can catch Max Greenfield on New Girl, airing Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Photo credit: Justin Stephens/Dewey Nicks/FOX

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.