As the obsessive compulsive Schmidt on Fox’s New Girl, Max Greenfield has pretty much managed to do the impossible: He’s made us like…nay, love the douchebag. That’s no small task considering that the first time we met Schmidt, he took off his shirt and referred to his bare chest as “LLS” (aka Ladies Love Schmidt). Since then Greenfield’s shown us that Schmidt actually has some depth beneath those perfectly toned pecks. He’s balanced his character’s arrogance with a layer of insecurity (see his relationship with CeCe), and his neuroses with bursts of self-awareness. And it pretty much goes without saying that he’s kept it really, really funny along the way. Though Greenfield is reluctant to take much if any credit for Schmidt’s breakout success (the character even as a fitness video for goodness sakes!), we’re more than happy to heap on the praise. After all, there aren’t many actors who can recite a line like this—“I want to tell people about us because I think you are the dopest, flyest, smartest, ballsiest, bitchiest, truly terrifying woman that I have sexually enjoyed in really long time”“—and still make us root for him.
No where is Schmidt’s endearing (but let’s face it, totally delusional) sense of self better captured than in The Story of the 50, when he attempts to smooch roommate Jess (Zooey Deschanel) after she goes out of her way to throw him a birthday party. The move inevitably ended up costing him $50—deposited directly into the douchebag jar—but we’d like to think it was well worth it. Check out the clip below and then read what Greenfield has to say about why it was a defining moment for Schmidt, and how he nearly broke character while filming the scene.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about one of your favorite moment from the season.
MAX GREENFIELD: I do enjoy the scene at the end of ["The Story of the 50"] episode where Schmidt tries to kiss Jess. I thought it was a really vulnerable moment for him. I think that’s one of my favorite moments from Zooey too. We did about three takes and she played two different reactions. She played it one way where she was completely laughing about the whole thing and she played another one where she made this weird noise. It was like a broken down train. If you watch it you can almost see me break. I remember thinking she was so funny in that scene and it was so mortifying for Schmidt. I don’t even think he was like, “Oh I’m going to get some right now.” I think he was like, “Maybe this is the answer. Maybe this girl with her glasses and this gesture of throwing me this party, no one’s ever really been this nice to me before, maybe this is a sign.” [Laughs] Then her reaction just killed all of that optimism. The poor kid. [Laughs]