‘New Girl’: Max Greenfield Almost Quit Acting Right Before He Landed Schmidt Role

Max Greenfield is probably best known for playing Schmidt on New Girl, but he would have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime if he quit acting as he planned. Greenfield shared how he was ready to pack up his acting ambitions because he felt like his career wasn’t going anywhere — but he still had a couple of auditions on his calendar. One of them was New Girl.

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

Max Greenfield quit acting but decided to audition for ‘New Girl’

During a 2019 interview with BUILD Series, Greenfield revealed that he had decided to move on from acting because it wasn’t taking off the way he hoped. “I basically was done acting before I got New Girl,” he shared. “I had pretty much quit.”

Greenfield continued, “And there was an audition I had right before the New Girl audition after I had quit. The only reason I wasn’t doing something else was I had given myself no backup plan. I had no skills, I had no trade, I had no schooling, and I was trying to figure out something else to do.”

While he was figuring out his next move, Greenfield kept auditioning. “And in the meantime, a couple of auditions were trickling in,” he explained. The one before his New Girl audition was for a role that he thought he was a great fit for, but the casting folks weren’t so impressed with him.

It was deflating, Greenfield shared. “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,” he explained.

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Max Greenfield landed the role of Schmidt on ‘New Girl’

Despite feeling the wind had been knocked out of his sails, Greenfield went on to do the New Girl audition and that went very well, he said. “I had an incredible audition,” he recalled, chalking it up to the writing. “So it was easy to be great in it.”

“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,” Greenfield added.

He’s ‘grateful’ for playing Schmidt on ‘New Girl’

The role of Schmidt on New Girl literally changed his whole career. “It set everything up from there,” he explained. “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.”

Greenfield said he found the pitch page that show creator Elizabeth Meriwether wrote for the New Girl pilot. Interestingly, the character description for Schmidt proved to him that no one else could have played the part.

“I guess nobody else was going to get this job,” he said after reading the description for Schmidt. “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.”