Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with the the FOX comedy star. Talking about what is in store for the second season . 'New Girl' will have it's second season premiere on Tuesday September 25 with two new episodes at 8e/7c then another at it's regular time at 9e/8c only on FOX.
Question(Part 1of 2):I just wanted to ask you—you’re so funny in this show. Has comedy always come easy to you or is it something you’ve had to work out with?
Zooey: I think comedy’s just about being interested in comedy and what makes people laugh and experimenting. I’ve always loved making people laugh and that was in school I a lot of times would play the comic relief character. So, it’s different patterns; something that always pops up. But, I did drama, too. I sort of consider myself a comedic actress, not a comedienne. I think it’s different. You know I’m not a stand-up or anything. But, playing into comedic situations is sort of where, I think, my strength lies.
Question: I want also to ask, I read that Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis are going to be playing your parents. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Zooey: Yes. I’m really excited, you know. I heard at the beginning of the season that we had talked about maybe having Jess’ parents come in last year, but it didn’t happen. Then, this year, before even the season started, we talked about the fact that they were going to introduce Jess’ parents in the Thanksgiving episode. So, we talked about a bunch of people and these were just beyond my wildest dreams. They’re people that I think would be just so perfect. I can’t wait to start shooting with them.
Question: To check on that last question, I was just wondering. Your mother’s an actress who a lot people are aware, especially from Twin Peaks. But, did anybody ever talk on her and her interest of possibly coming on the show as your mother?
Zooey: No, no there wasn’t. I would love to work with my mom, but I think you would want to keep things a little bit more imaginative. If I were to work with my mom, I probably would not want her to play my mom. That would get too real....
Question: The last season was very much about the transition of Jess, getting over her ex, and saving up.... How much are we going to see of this losing her teaching job following her this year.
Question: Losing the teaching job in the season premiere. How much of that is going to follow you and be the arc for Jess at the beginning of the season?
Zooey: You know she’s been looking for a job for a little while and so they’re throwing out different jobs. It definitely affects her life pretty deeply because this is something she’s wanted to do her entire life and considered teaching to be her calling. So, it definitely is a blow to her. But, I like how Jess is sort of open to new things and although she’s upset about it, she throws herself into to trying to find a new job and is pretty positive about things, which is a quality I like in the character.
Question: I’m wondering what new shows are you looking forward to watching this year?
Zooey: I’m looking forward to this whole Tuesday night lineup. I’m very excited about Ben and Kate and Mindy Project, along with us and Raising Hope. I think it’s pretty exciting that they built a night with us. There are a lot of great shows. I’ve seen the pilots of those shows and I think they’re really terrific. I think it’s just an exciting time to be working in comedy on TV.
Question: I was wondering do you have a speech prepared in case your name is called on Emmy Sunday and who would you rehearse it with?
Zooey: I don’t have a speech. I have a one in seven chance of making a speech and I’ve been just nervous. So, I haven’t written anything. We work crazy hours so I keep putting off writing something. But, I’m sure I’ll throw something together. There are so many amazing people in the category. I feel like I have a one in seven chance. Long story short, I haven’t written anything and therefore I have not rehearsed anything.
Question: I’m just curious—there’s this character who shares this apartment with all these guys and it’s kind of a quirky thing. Do you have anything like that in your real life that you can compare to the TV show? Or, do you have any friends like that or did you ever have to have funny roommates?
Zooey: I never had funny roommates really. I’ve always had a lot of guy friends, so I love the camaraderie between Jess and the guys. So it’s, I think, nice to have. I have a lot of girlfriends, too, but I think it’s important to have guy friends because it sort of provides a different perspective. I really like that relationship.
Question: I actually was going to bring up the same point that you just made about how the male-female relationships on the show are really great to watch because they’re really platonic and they seem to represent kind of a more modern understanding of relationships between men and women. But, I also like the emphasis on diversity that the show has. Could you speak a little bit to that because you guys clearly have different ethnicities playing in the show that it’s all very natural?
Zooey: Yes.The thing is I know that was like one thing that was important to our exec producers and also to Fox that our show be diverse and that it’s not diverse in a way where we’re making a big deal out of the diversity. It’s just friends. I think to speak to what we were talking to before about the relationships between men and women; the diversity is also nobody makes a big deal out of. It’s just more of an intermingling; it’s just more modern relationships. You see more and more on TV this happening. I think it’s speaks to you more like a modern sensibility because that’s the way people are now.
Question: I always remember that funny little snippet of a scene when Jess is teaching the Mr. Monogamy class. I always thought it would be kind of funny to see what kind of things she might put in a dating advice column.
Zooey: You might want to ask another question because it’s not like this is a question I could answer just off the top of my head right now.
Question: Okay. Well, then can you talk a little bit about the writers have said a lot there’s a worry about getting Nick and Jess together too soon. Do you think that that’s a problem? Do you think—?
Zooey: There’s no danger of that happening. They’re not getting together anytime soon. I think that they’re not ready for each other and nobody is going to push them together. So, I think Nick and Jess have a great chemistry and I work really well with Jake Johnson. I think it’s nice the sort of love-hate-but love relationship they have. They’re not going to throw them together or anything soon. They might tease it out.
Question: I was wondering how hard is it to work with the guys without cracking up, especially Max?
Zooey: I don’t really ever crack up. That’s my job because I’m an actor. We’re in the situation and it’s not really about. They’re all funny, but we’re all just for our jobs and we’re all professionals. So, it’s not really like we’re all just laughing all the time. It’s, again, especially it’s pretty basic acting, not cracking up. Sometimes we’re laughing. We make each other laugh. And, they’re all funny. It’s not like Max is funnier than Lamorne and Jake. They’re all really funny. I just want to say that.
Question: There was an evolution of your character from the beginning of the first season to the end, where they kind of mellowed you out in terms, correct me if I’m wrong, but in terms of the quirkiness of the character. Was that something that you encouraged or is that something that was just a very natural evolution?
Zooey: Well, this is a natural evolution, but it was two things. One, at the beginning of last year, I always said this, “She’s not going to always be in the same heightened state that she is in the pilot because in that situation she’s just gone through a crisis.” Now, if it were a movie, you might just see her in slice of her life. But, it’s a TV show so they stretch it out.
You see somebody in a lot of different situations and she gets confident, more confident and changes and she bawls and grows up and a lot of things over the season. She is just like how somebody in a crazy heightened sense of reality. I always thought of the show as we were aiming for reality. Now, we have silly situations that sometimes throw our life into some broader stuff. But, ultimately, I’m always grounding in reality.
Here’s the other thing is I’m watching every week and seeing what’s working. I’m using my own sensibilities to inform how I play the character. So, if I think something seems like too much, the next time we do something like that I’m going to pull it back a little bit, you know. I think all of us are doing that.
The writers and the actors are going for what works best because sometimes on the day you don’t always know how to play something, but the fact that we’ve done however many episodes and I’ve been looking at them and seeing what works that’s going to inform how I play it. I have a sort of shorthand for my character and I know what’s working and what’s not working. I think that’s one of the privileges of doing television is the ability to evaluate my own performance and try to improve upon my own....
Question: The Mindy Project starring your friend, Mindy Cowling. How would you feel about a cross-over episode between the shows? Do you think that Jess and Mindy would be friends in real life?
Zooey: I do. I think that would be really fun, actually.
That’s a good idea. I like that idea.
Question: You have a lot of amazing guest stars coming up in Season Two.One that people have been asking about is will your friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt ever come on? Who would you like him to play? Who would you imagine him in relation to Jess?
Zooey: I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t know that he would. He’s kind of like a movie star. I don’t know if he would do it. I don’t know if he has time. So, I don’t know.
Question: Zooey, I’ll ask you about The Simpsons. What was the experience like? Has it been in the works for a while? Just generally, what was it like? Are you a fan of the show going back?
Zooey: Yes, I’ve been a huge fan of the show since I was like ten years old and really exciting. I did an episode four years ago or something; four or five years ago, and it was really fun then. But, I had to record it. I was working in Philadelphia and I had to record it out there. So, I didn’t get to see all the people read or record with any of the actors. So, this time, I got to record with Nancy and that was really exciting. I got to sing some songs and I actually got to write two songs for them. So, one for this episode and one for the next I’m on. That was super exciting. I don’t know—it was kind of dream come true. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m a huge fan of everyone over there. It’s been nothing but fun.
Question: How would you describe your personal style? The next part of my question is have you ever been able to take any items home from the fashion closet or have you ever worn anything of your own on the show?
Zooey: I would describe my personal style as feminine. Then, with the show I’m not allowed to take wardrobe home. That’s Fox …. I do sometimes buy stuff that I have tried on with our costume designer or worn on the show. Separately, I’ll go on-line and buy it. But, I have actually worn my own stuff on the show a couple of times. Last year, there was something I wore when I went out to dinner with Liz, the show creator, and she liked the shorts I wore, so I wore them on the show. Actually last week I wore a dress that was mine. So, a few times I’ll wear my own stuff.
Question: Obviously you’ve found yourself having great success on TV, movies, and music. Which one of those outlets do you enjoy most?
Zooey: I like them all for different reasons. I think it’s important to do a lot of different things. These are all really exciting, fun jobs. You don’t want to stop appreciating them because of the grind. So, I think it’s really important to have, at least for me, different things that I enjoy doing. They all play different roles in making me feel creatively satisfied. I really like the collaboration of doing movies and television. But, I like the sort of solitary work of doing music. I love live performance, too. So, it’s all really great.
Question: Your co-star, Max Greenfield recently said in an interview, he joked around that you guys have this whole pre-Emmy beauty routine worked out, which I though was hilarious. But, I do want to know is your style on Emmy night going to be similar to your vintage style that you...last year and do you have any pre-Emmy beauty routines.
Zooey: To your first question, in my style, I can’t change my sensibilities. So, you’ll see. I think it’s really a great job, so I’m excited. Pre-Emmy beauty—we work crazy hours and I try to keep things as low key as possible because it makes me less nervous. I try to just have a good time, basically, while getting ready because otherwise it’s like it’s silly to get too upset about anything because the whole thing is supposed to be fun. It’s a treat that we’re all getting appreciated. It should be something that we enjoy. So, if you’re not enjoying it, then what are you doing? So, I never freaked out to much about the fashion or the hair or the make-up. It’s supposed to be fun, not work. It’s fun.
Question: I was just wondering—I know that eventually, hopefully, Nick and Jess will get together. But, I was wondering if there was going to be any romantic detours with the other roommates, either Schmidt or Winston?
Zooey:I don’t think so.
Zooey: I’m going to say no.
Question: A solid no?
Zooey: I’m going to say no.