Max Greenfield on the New Girl Finale, Being Too Schmidt-y, and Sia

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Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Tuesday night’s New Girl season-four finale was a big deal for fans of the show, and especially for fans of Max Greenfield’s breakout character, Schmidt, who finally proposed to his longtime will-they, won’t-they counterpart, Cece. Vulture spoke with Max Greenfield about Cece, Sia, and whether or not New Girl will ever reveal Schmidt’s mysterious first name. 

Mazel Tov on Schmidt and Cece’s engagement!
Thank you! 

Were you surprised when they told you what was going to happen in the finale?
No, I was more relieved. I think we all were. We weren’t exactly hiding the fact that that’s where we were headed, sort of. I think it was pretty obvious that we were going to get back together, but the surprise was the engagement. I loved it. I thought it was fantastic.

Obviously you’ve been playing this character for a while now. Has your approach to how you play Schmidt changed over the past four seasons?
No, not really. [Long pause.]

Okay!
[Laughs.] I think what makes our show really interesting and fun to be on is that so many of our episodes are different week to week, and a lot of shows I think to some degree are somewhat the same and the stories change, but you get the same dynamic week in and week out. What’s fun about New Girl is that when we sit down for a table read, we are always in the mind-set of, “well, wonder what this is gonna be like!” So on a week-to-week basis, it’s pretty much the same; it’s just being open to what we’re doing.

Where did Schmidt’s very specific cadence come from?
I hate to give myself credit for anything, but I will say I really enjoy, as an actor, and especially with comedy stuff, playing with different rhythms and with different ways around a joke. There’s always an obvious route and there’s one that maybe is a little bit different. For every rhythmic choice that people respond to, there’s ten more that I was asked to please say it normally. A common note that I’ll get from directors and writers on the show is, “Can you please say that like a normal human being?”

I would love to see those rejected takes.
You could fill up a full night of television with just me saying things incorrectly.

What’s one thing you haven’t gotten to do on the show yet that you’d love to do in season five? 
I’ve been really asking them to do the Sia dance. 

Like “Chandelier”?
Yeah. We actually did a little bit of it, but it ended up getting cut from the show. I called Liz [Meriwether] and I said, “I think rather than saying anything when he finds out that Cece loves him, or when he sees Cece at the door, that he should have a playlist on his phone that’s called ‘In Case Cece Ever Says I Love You’ and it’s just ‘Chandelier’ on the playlist.” 

Over and over again?
Over and over. And he just dances through the loft. I don’t think we need to say anything. I think we can say it in a visual dance format.

Honestly, I think that you dancing to “Chandelier” is another thing that could fill a full night of television.
I was really excited about it. To Liz’s credit, she really liked it too. I think ultimately she thought it was a little too abstract.

I mean, there’s going to need to be a first dance at the wedding, right?
That would be pretty amazing if Schmidt just decided that for the first dance at the wedding he was just going to do it himself.

What was your favorite Schmidt moment to shoot in season four?
The proposal was great. I thought it was really nice; it was very relieving. It just felt like more of an earnest moment for everybody involved, so it was great. 

Are you working on any other projects you can talk about right now?
Well, I’m really excited for Hello My Name Is Doris to come out next year. It had a premiere at South Belly that did really well. Sally Field is incredible in it. Michael Showalter wrote and directed it and it turned out great. Also, check out the web series on Trulia.com that we did with one Miss Leslie Grossman, who is just a real gem.

I know that you can’t say, but do you know Schmidt’s first name?
I don’t!

Is it possible that Schmidt just doesn’t have one? Like some people don’t have a middle name, Schmidt just doesn’t have a first name?
I genuinely know as much as you do about it.

Maybe that will be the reveal in the season-five finale.
That’ll be it. It’ll be us moving out of the loft and as I’m walking out the door, Nick will come and be like, “Come on!” and then call me by my first name, whatever that is.