2012 hasn’t been just a big year for doomsday preppers and TMZ’s Lindsay Lohan beat reporter, it’s been a fine one for Fox’s New Girl, which further established itself as a force for good comedy. (In addition, Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield received Emmy nominations over the summer.) EW has named New Girl one of its Entertainers of the Year, along with Homeland, Ben Affleck, Seth MacFarlane, and others. Pick up a copy of the EOY issue — which includes a tribute to the second-year roommate comedy by Bones star/Zooey’s sister Emily Deschanel — and scroll down for a few bonus quotes from Zooey (Jess), Greenfield (Schmidt), and Jake Johnson (Nick).
On why New Girl works
DESCHANEL: The entertainment business gets into pandering a lot. There’s a lot of groups who study the public to see what they want. But the weird thing is, this was just all of us being like, “Well, we think this is funny,” so we’re putting out what we think is funny and not thinking about it in that way… People want to think that you can guess what people want and then give it to them, but we’re not guessing what people want. We’re just doing stuff we think is funny and putting it out there and hoping that other people think it’s funny too.
On the show becoming a true ensemble
JOHNSON: They launched it on Zooey, and she did an amazing job. And then they pushed Schmidt out to see if somebody else could break through. And he did, and then they said “Well, hell, let’s see if we can get everybody though.” [It’s like in] basketball, you can’t score if they don’t call your number. Now everybody is getting their number called. And everyone is hitting their shots.
GREENFIELD: I think why certain shows are not successful is because all of a sudden, like a basketball team, they get exposed early on and they realize, “Well, we can’t run this play because this one can’t run.” And it was a real blessing [for us to find out] as we’ve continued to go that when you have people who can play the big comedic foil of a scene in one episode and then the next episode play the straight man, you can very likely last for a very long time.
DESCHANEL: A couple people said to me, “I feel that all of a sudden it’s an ensemble and this was supposed to be your show.” And I’m like, “It was never supposed to be my show!” You can’t have a television show that can run for a long time based on one person. You don’t have Mary Tyler Moore without Rhoda. And we have all these amazing characters. What, everyone’s just supposed to be in the background all the time, and then one person is getting every joke? That’s impossible. That’s a myth that a show is all about one person. It’s called Seinfeld, but all those people made storylines work. I always knew this was an ensemble.”
On the romantic tension between Nick and Jess
DESCHANEL: From what I gather this is a very slow burn…They sometimes tell us not to hug because they’re so afraid. “You guys have too much chemistry! Don’t hug!” Jake and I started being like, “This is ridiculous!” They said, “Okay, fine, you can hug, but don’t hug too long.”… Schmidt & Cece (Hannah Simone) is obviously more on the surface, which makes Nick & Jess exciting but also sort of a nail biter, because it’s so under the surface. But I do think we’ll make some progress.
JOHNSON: For a long time, I wanted them to get together. Because I was watching Max and Hannah having all this fun where they’re together and not together. And our whole storyline would be like, “We looked at each other weird.” And we’re hearing a lot online, and on Twitter, and from our fans saying, “Give us more”… But as it’s progressed, I’ve realized that in fact the writers are smarter than I am. I’m happy with what they’re doing. If they abandoned the Nick-Jess story entirely, I would lose a lot of interest in playing the part. As of now I really love it, because our show can go to absolute crazy town. But while we’re in crazy town, there’s always a grounding reality: This character feels, deep down, something different for that girl. As an actor, that’s a nice thing to always have. If and when they decide to finally play that card, I’m very excited to go down that road.
On the Nick-Schmidt friendship
GREENFIELD: We had begged the writers, and we still do, to give us more stuff where we’re on the same page, and we’ve been pitching an episode they’ll never do: The two of us become detectives. Something happens with Jess at work and she’s suspicious of something and Nick and Schmidt are like, “Oh that’s too bad, maybe we’ll look into it.” And she’s like, “No, please, don’t look into it.” And we’re like, “No, no, no, we’re just going to take a look at what’s going on.” And the two of them make one dumb move after the next… But it’s been really nice, and they have no choice but to put Nick and Schmidt in more situations. Because ultimately you want to see why these guys are friends. They can’t always be fighting, so those moments where we get to have fun and laugh and be in a similar storyline where our goals are [similar], that’s the best. The two of us have a really good time together and we both are so very clear on who our characters are and how they play off of one another. We just beg for those situations.
JOHNSON: Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Nick have always had something there, because they have an old friendship. At first, the writers had Nick kind of hating Schmidt and thinking he was just a douchebag, so Schmidt would do something funny and Nick would be really annoyed. Now when Nick and Schmidt are together, they team up. And they’re genuine friends and they’re idiots. Those two guys together can get into a lot of f—ing trouble. It’s like two takes on the same dumb theme. I view Nick and Schmidt as The Odd Couple. When one of those characters is running wild and the other one is trying to put him in his place, you can’t run as far. But when they’re both gunning together, it’s really fun.
On the Schmidt-Cece relationship
GREENFIELD: I like that he’s in pursuit again. It’s fun. I’m competitive so I want to win, personally… There’s a small part of me that would like for them to get back together and seal it up and get married — not save it for the end of the series. Let’s get married real early, move next door or somehow stay in the loft in some weird arranged thing, and see Schmidt in a full-on marriage. There’s a well of comedy in that storyline.