New Girl: Jake Johnson on directing debut, Nick-Schmidt 'romance'
'I've never done a romance as an actor the way I have with Schmidt and Nick,' Johnson tells EW
Nick Miller’s growing up a bit this season — and so is the actor that plays him: Jake Johnson will make his New Girl directing debut with Tuesday’s episode, “Bob & Carol & Nick & Schmidt,” which features guest stars Lennon Parham (Playing House) and comedian Bill Burr.
“I was able to truly watch my costars and the guest stars’ performances in a way that I don’t get to as an actor, which was really fun,” Johnson tells EW. “It was really nice to watch Max [Greenfield] and Lamorne [Morris] and Hannah [Simone] just be so good. The big takeaway from directing was just how talented the people I get to work with here are.”
Johnson especially looked to Simone, who plays Cece, for help with this episode thanks to a dress montage he was fairly clueless about how to stage. “Believe it or not, those romantic comedies from the ’90s and 2000s that have influenced New Girl, I don’t watch those,” Johnson says. “[Showrunner Liz Meriweather] was like, ‘You know, it’s just like your typical dress montage.’ I was like, ‘I have no idea what this is supposed to look like.’ “
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Simone gave him some pointers though, like putting on music to give her something to move to, and with her help, he completed his first-ever dress montage, a goofy scene that features Simone and Morris’ Winston getting tipsy off free champagne and judging a series of wedding gowns.
Although Winston and Cece get plenty of one-on-one time this episode, one of Nick’s usual scene partners is absent. Zooey Deschanel started her several-episode maternity leave with last week’s episode, giving time for Nick to spend some more time with his real true love: Schmidt.
“Everybody talks about Schmidt and Cece and Nick and Jess, but I’ve never done a romance as an actor the way I have with Schmidt and Nick,” he says. “Every episode, there’s a moment where those two are talking about how much they like each other.” This episode is no exception, as Schmidt gets a chance to express his devotion to Nick after his cousins (played by Burr and Parham) make an, uh, intimate request.
Watch an exclusive clip of that request being made below, and see the episode when it airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.