‘New Girl’: Max Greenfield’s Schmidt Improvised Half the Kisses With Jake Johnson’s Nick
In its 2011 debut, New Girl brought us a funny and surprisingly touching tale of friendship and love. Like Bosom Buddies and the iconic Three’s Company, the Fox series highlighted the hilarious trials and tribulations of mixed gender roommate relationships that have long been a staple of the sitcom genre. The obvious rapport and comedic timing of the talented ensemble cast, a well-written script, and many improvised moments combined to make New Girl unforgettable.
‘New Girl’ was on air for 8 seasons
Fox’s New Girl features the multi-talented Zooey Deschanel in the title role as Jess, the endearingly geeky school teacher with no filter. In the opening scene, she plans a sexy surprise for her live-in boyfriend, only to end up naked in front of the woman she finds him cheating with. Devastated, she leaves him, answering an ad on the internet for a roommate that she assumes was posted by a woman. What she finds are three quirky men in a loft apartment who decide to give her a chance.
Nick, played by Jake Johnson, is a heartbroken law school dropout turned bartender with a tendency to drunk dial his ex. Schmidt, played by Max Greenfield, is a rather obsessive young executive and ladies’ man who goes by his last name, memorably slapping Jess’s disrespectful ex while declaring, “Schmidt happens!”
The hotheaded personal trainer, Coach, played by Damon Wayans Jr., moves out in the pilot when Nick’s childhood friend and dubious prankster Winston, played by Lamorne Morris, comes home to reclaim his sublet room.
As anticipated, the new girl, with the help of her best friend, sarcastic model Cece, played by Hannah Simone, upends the lives of her new roommates.
New Girl also introduced its audience to a fictional game that became something of a pop culture phenomenon, True American. The floor is lava, the rules are murky, and the goal is to be the first one to get drunk. Unless you’re in the mood for a hangover, it’s probably best to stick with Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.
Through seven seasons, ending in 2018, the characters succeed and fail, fall in and out of love, and build an unbreakable friendship, but it’s the relationship between Nick and Schmidt that really steals the show.
Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson create the perfect bromance
Related: ‘New Girl’: Jake Johnson Thinks Nick Had More Romantic Scenes With Schmidt Than With Jess
As Nick and Schmidt, the two actors have undeniable chemistry. They fight passionately and love each other almost to death, often more like a married couple than friends. Their backstory as college roommates hints at what they have been through together over the years and how they have supported each other along the way.
When the couple argues like a husband and wife about a plumbing issue, it is revealed that Schmidt who comes from a rich family willingly pays for almost everything. Nick, perhaps not wanting to feel beholden to him, has been improvising home repairs behind his back to save him money.
Awkward hugs, surprise kisses, and an emotional scene over a cookie are only part of how Greenfield and Johnson created this deep, onscreen friendship that is enviable and touching.
Half the kisses were unscripted
In a recent conversation, Johnson revealed that Greenfield started hanging out in Johnson’s trailer in between takes, and soon the two of them were spending all their time at work together, making jokes and building the energy they would take with them onto the set. In many ways, the bond that made their performance so believable was real, and there was a reason why Johnson looked so uncomfortable fending off the hugs and kisses from his bro.
“I will say that about have the times we kissed, he improvised. Those would not be in the script. He knew that, in real life, I don’t need to be touched that often, unless you’re my wife or my kids,” said Johnson on a Zoom chat.
By capitalizing on Johnson’s real-life tendencies, Greenfield added improvised physical comedy to the show and more depth to their characters’ close relationship.
Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson discuss the kisses
In a light-hearted interview with Ryan Seacrest, the two actors came clean about the kissing scenes.
“Max improvise-kissed me a bunch in the show,” said Johnson, “I have been kissed the most by Max in two seasons than by any girl I’ve ever dated.”
Greenfield said that initially, the production staff objected to the kisses, and it took about 7 times to get them to change their mind and start writing them in. “At first, well, at first, the reactions from you were like really aggressive, where you’d push my face away, or you would hit me,” said Greenfield to Johnson, adding, “But now when it happens and a lot of the time, it’s in the script, he just kind of goes with it.”
While the kisses from his co-star no longer bother him, Johnson thinks the cookie scene probably crosses a line for some men. In the words of Seacrest, “Like, we get it, you don’t buy a guy a sweet.”