‘New Girl’: Schmidt Was Almost Played by Another Actor; Zooey Deschanel Recalled His Weird Audition Acting Choice

Could anyone else have played Schmidt on New Girl besides Max Greenfield? New Girl star Zooey Deschanel recalled how one actor she knew well might have landed the role but he made a really bizarre choice during his audition.

'New Girl' cast: Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, and Lamorne Morris
‘New Girl’ cast: Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, and Lamorne Morris | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

This ‘Silicon Valley’ star auditioned for Schmidt on ‘New Girl’

Silicon Valley star T.J. Miller auditioned to play Schmidt on New Girl and perhaps it was his weird acting choice that made them pass on him for the role.

Deschanel recalled Miller’s audition while talking about New Girl in a 2018 EW interview. She had worked with the actor on the movie Our Idiot Brother and remembered his audition well.

“He insisted he wanted to read for Schmidt, and Schmidt had this scene where he took off his shirt,” Deschanel recalled. “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.”

“So that was memorable,” she added.

Max Greenfield almost quit acting

During a 2019 interview with BUILD Series, Greenfield shed some light on how he landed the role of Schmidt — after he decided to quit acting.

“I basically was done acting before I got New Girl,” he explained. “I had pretty much quit.”

“And in the meantime, a couple of auditions were trickling in,” including one before New Girl that he thought he was “perfect” for. After his audition, the casting people weren’t that impressed and he went back in again to the give the same audition and got the same unimpressed response.

“At that point, I was like, ‘I’m now real done.’ I remember it just being fully, fully in my mind done and that next week was the New Girl audition,” Greenfield added.

Greenfield owes his career to playing Schmidt

Greenfield felt very confident about his New Girl audition, explaining, “I had an incredible audition.”

“There was a level of confidence that came from that, a huge level of validation because I had been doing it for so long and had failed so many times before that,” he added.

The actor credits the role with changing his life. “It set everything up from there. It’s the job that I will always point to as the beginning of everything and the one that I will always be the most grateful for.”

RELATED: ‘New Girl’ Guest Star Claims Zooey Deschanel Was ‘Slightly Annoyed’ With Him: ‘It Was Disrespectful, What I Was Doing’

Was Greenfield the perfect actor to play Schmidt?

Greenfield recalled how, years later, he read a pitch page that show creator Elizabeth Meriwether wrote that included lengthy character descriptions. He couldn’t believe how “tailored” Schmidt seemed to be for him.

“I guess nobody else was going to get this job,” he shared. “I mean it was so tailored for the type of comedy I like to do, for the type of human being I am, and I thought I was a good actor … I got really lucky that some woman who I didn’t know just wrote the weirdest version of me that I don’t want to admit is me.”

During a 2019 appearance at Cornell University, Greenfield talked about his New Girl audition.

“There were no stakes. I was done acting, but I gave the best audition that I had ever given in my life,” he explained.

“The audition scene was the one from the pilot where randomly during that scene I take my shirt off. Except I had a sinus infection, so everything was a mess,” he continued. “And Liz Meriwether, went, ‘Oh my god he’s so pale, and he’s got more moles than I’ve ever seen before. This is the guy!’”