‘New Girl’: Schmidt Got His Signature Accent out of Necessity
Max Greenfield’s big break came in 2011 when he landed the role of Schmidt on New Girl. Fans instantly fell in love with the character for his quirks. One of those quirks was his hard-to-place word pronunciation. Watching the series back, it’s clear that Schmidt’s signature style of speech is incredibly unique. Greenfield revealed that the accent that Schmidt used throughout the series was born out of necessity.
Greenfield had roles before landing New Girl where his accent is a bit more identifiable
Greenfield’s first acting job wasn’t New Girl. Far from it, in fact. Before landing the part, he portrayed Nick Pepper in Ugly Betty and Michael, Calvin Owens’ boyfriend on Greek. Fans still tweet him about a small, one-scene job he had on Gilmore Girls, too. The Greenfield seen in those shows is slightly different from the actor fans fell in love with on New Girl. He had a different accent.
Greenfield, born and raised in New York’s affluent Westchester County, had an easily identifiable New York accent. While he was beginning to shake it during his early acting career, he found the process a bit difficult. The method of ditching his voice is what led him to adopt a pretty unique manner of speaking that followed him onto New Girl.
Schmidt’s accent was Max Greenfield’s way of shaking his New York speech pattern
In an interview with Indie Wire, Greenfield admitted that he would go on auditions when he arrived in Los Angeles, and agents refused to cast him in certain shows. He told the publication, “I remember auditioning for shows like Everwood, and they were like, ‘No man, we can’t put you on this show.” He recalled that his wife told him he needed to lose the accent.
He committed to the process, but when the audition for New Girl came up, he was still in the process of altering his voice. He said he tended to commit to the new voice by over-annunciating when nervous, which created Schmidt’s signature and incredibly unique accent.
Max Greenfield wasn’t initially confident in his New Girl character
Greenfield landed the role of Schmidt, partially thanks to his unique speech pattern, but he wasn’t exactly sold on the job. Greenfield once admitted that he feared Schmidt would be too much for audiences to handle. He was so concerned that he asked if it would be possible to tone the character down. The writing team didn’t bite.
Greenfield admitted he was pretty anxious while filming the first few episodes. He noted that the cast filmed about five episodes before anything aired, and they were in limbo waiting to see how fans would respond. Thankfully, they responded well, and the show enjoyed seven seasons on Fox before being canceled.