New Girl: Max Greenfield explains the way Schmidt speaks
In New Girl‘s first season, Schmidt was introduced as a hilariously high-maintenance playboy with a penchant for saying particularly douchey things (this happened so often he had to put a dollar into the designated douchebag jar whenever he said something particularly offensive) and wearing equally douchey items of clothing (think driving moccasins and Irish walking capes).
But over six seasons, we’ve seen him evolve into the human equivalent of the heart eyes emoji: a loved-up, supportive husband to Jess’s best friend Cece, with nary a douchebag jar in sight.
As New Girl heads into the home stretch of season six, the rest of our favorite loft dwellers are doing a whole lot of growing up, too, so EW caught up with Max Greenfield, who plays Schmidt, ahead of Tuesday’s episode to talk about what’s next for his character, Cece, and the rest of the crew.
Read on to hear whether Greenfield is Team Jess or Team Reagan, why guest star Gordon Ramsay is his #ManCrushMonday, and whether or not we’ll ever see a 2016 election-themed round of True American.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So first things first — are Schmidt and Cece ever going to move out of the loft?
MAX GREENFIELD: It’s almost time. They’re almost in!
It seems like the whole gang is finally growing up. Winston’s proposing to Aly, Nick published his book. You’ve been playing these characters for six years now, so what has it been like to watch them go from these twentysomethings to people who actually have their s— together?
I wouldn’t say that we fully have our s— together. I would hope that these characters who started off in their twenties, who are now moving into their early thirties, would get their s— together to some degree, and I think we also have to make that decision on our own to make these characters mature a little bit. I don’t think any of the characters have changed, I just think their circumstances have gained responsibility. And I think within that, it’s nice because you’re seeing them change a little bit but they always sort of, in moments of stress, whenever there’s any sort of pressure put on them, they sort of revert back to who we originally saw.
I feel like of all the characters, Schmidt has probably changed the most. Do you ever miss playing playboy Schmidt?
I think he was supposed to be a real playboy and ladies’ man, and then he fell in love and it ruined everything. It takes away a very fun aspect of playing the character.
Speaking of Cece, what’s next for Schmidt and Cece? It’s so hard to imagine type-A Schmidt changing a baby’s diaper.
I can only imagine they’ve gotta have kids at some point. It doesn’t seem like Schmidt would be like, sitting around going, “Not in the cards for me.” I feel like he’s got a number in his head of how many he wants, and what gender they’re going to be, and where they’re gonna go to college, and where they’re going to work.
So where are they headed in the rest of this season?
They’re both set on moving into this house. And it’s a big moment — they would be the first people from the loft to move out. The loft has been part of the show, and to move out of it, it’s a really huge deal.
Jess still has feelings for Nick, but he’s dating Reagan now. Are you Team Reagan or Team Jess?
Oh, gosh. How can I choose? I think I have to be Team Jess, if for no other reason than it’s been what feels like 70,000 more years. So I’m Jess. You gotta be.
Part of what makes Schmidt so funny are his one-liners. Do you have a favorite?
I like when he tries to talk about sports, just like how adverse he is to athletics in general. His lack of knowledge really makes me laugh. They’ll always write a scene where I’m discussing sports with somebody, by accident usually, and they always amplify it to an unrealistic degree, and it’s always the funniest thing on set, and then I think they watch it, and they’re like, “This doesn’t make any sense, we can’t air this. This is not a real person.”
I can’t say Jay Cutler normally anymore. It’s Jay Cut-uh-ler now — I can’t do it any other way.
That was one of my favorites, that one got me.
How did you come up with the way he talks? It’s so distinct and it’s so funny. Was that all you?
There are certain moments where I’ll just read the word, and I’ll mispronounce it, and it’ll make me laugh the way that I said it, and I’ll be like, it’s close enough. But it really comes down to, I’m originally from New York, and when I first moved, my now-wife, who I was dating at the time, was like, “You’re never gonna work with that accent.” And so I went to a bunch of dialect coaches and really worked on that accent. It’s like pronouncing full letters in the middle of words. It’s not the most fun thing to do when you’re on a TV show, and you’re shooting 24 episodes a year, so you’re like, “I gotta keep this fresh somehow.” Whenever I’m gonna do it, whenever I see a word that I think to myself, “I’m going to lay into that one,” I always get excited, and I probably break in the first take. And no one else laughs.
Oh, come on, really? No one laughs?
Once in a while, Lamorne [Morris] will laugh, Lamorne will indulge me. Like, “Oh, he’s doing it again.”
On Tuesday’s episode, Gordon Ramsay is a guest star. Did he cook for you guys on set?
I didn’t have any scenes with him, unfortunately, but he’s the greatest human being on earth. He’s so nice and so generous. He’s a real mensch. He really is. I’ve gotten really into MasterChef Junior, oh my god, that’s a good show. My daughter and I watch it now together. That show is so great, and it’s so funny to watch because you see Gordon with the kids and you go, “I don’t know why he’s yelling at all the adults in the other show.”
I know, he’s so nice to the kids!
He’s so nice because I think that show is so much easier for him. All of my experiences with him have been just pure generosity and kindness. He’s the best. And by the way, did you know he runs like, Iron Mans?
Really? I didn’t know that.
He’s a superhero. What do they do, Man Crush Mondays on the internet?
And he’s a good therapist, to boot.
I’m telling you, I’m all in on this guy.
Do you think, with the craziness of the 2016 election, we’ll see an election-inspired game of True American?
Oh god, I hope not. Everyone would die of alcohol poisoning. I don’t know that we’re ready to jump around on couches and accuse people of fake news. We’ll sing like a fun jingle about Betsy DeVos. I’m not into it.
Do you have anything else you want to add about the rest of season?
I’m just excited. I think it feels like we’re maybe starting to wind things down. I’m not really sure but they’re moving out of their loft, and Winston getting engaged, it feels like these characters are really growing up. It’s a nice feeling.
New Girl airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.