New Girl star Zooey Deschanel reveals who almost played Schmidt — and more untold stories
Which Silicon Valley actor auditioned for Schmidt? Which scenes did the cast dread? And what does she think of the word 'adorkable' now?
Hey, giiiiirl… It's time to leave the loft for good.
Fox's New Girl, which ends its 7-season run with a pair of episodes Tuesday night, has seen loft-mates come and go and relationships spark and fizzle, but at its heart has always been its titular character, Jess, played by Zooey Deschanel. And ahead of the series' ending, EW caught up with Deschanel to take a walk down New Girl‘s memory lane.
Which actor went overboard in his audition? What scenes did the cast dread? Below, Deschanel spills the answers and more.
Who's That Guy?
Long before he headed to Silicon Valley, T.J. Miller auditioned to play Schmidt (Max Greenfield). Deschanel, who had worked with Miller in 2011's Our Idiot Brother, recalls the actor putting his own spin on the "douchebag jar" contributor when he read a scene from the pilot. "He insisted he wanted to read for Schmidt, and Schmidt had this scene where he took off his shirt," she says. "He was like, ‘Excuse me for a second,' so he walked out and came back with his shirt off, and he had completely covered himself in an entire bottle of baby oil." She pauses. "So that was memorable."
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True Americans, the series' epic drinking game—or rather, 50 percent drinking game, 50 percent life-size Candy Land—may seem fun to play on screen, but playing it took its toll in real life. "We'd always be like, ‘Oh, noooo,'" Deschanel admits. "I mean, it's fun, no doubt, but everyone kind of dreads the scenes where everyone's in the room. They take forever to shoot." Especially without real booze.
The Daily Devotee
It's no secret New Girl scored famous fans, including Prince, who memorably guest-starred as himself in season 3, and author Judy Blume, who penned a tribute to Deschanel in EW in 2011. The actress reveals one more celebrity supporter: "Jon Stewart was binge-watching it!" Of course, Stewart wasn't the only one late to the game; Deschanel says she's always pleasantly taken aback to hear people discovering the show years after it premiered. "Because the show is up on streaming platforms, kids will watch it, and they won't even know that it's not new," she says. "Someone was saying to me that their teenage daughter doesn't even know that the episodes they're watching are 7 years old! There are new fans all the time, and I'm always surprised."
An Adorable Dork
The adjective "adorkable," which Fox popularized in their promotional material ahead of the series' debut, prompted a backlash against both the über-quirky label and Deschanel herself at the time. Now the actress just laughs. "It is what it is," she sighs. "It wouldn't be my first choice of a word to describe myself, but I can separate myself from the characters I play… It created both negative and positive attention for the show, and I think that's exactly what it was meant to do. If it was just ‘cool,' it might not have stirred people's emotions as much. So, I think it was a really brilliant marketing campaign."
Deschanel promises the series finale will be "unexpected," but reveals she had an alternate conclusion in mind. "I always thought the show should have a really sad ending," she says. "It could have been a cool choice to go really dark." Darker than learning that Furguson has died? "Not that dark," she clarifies. "It would be bittersweet dark." Well, if Winston goes big on a prank…
New Girl ends Tuesday, May 15, at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.