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2011 Breakout TV Stars: New Girl's Max Greenfield Talks About Playing the Glorious Shirtless Creature That Is Schmidt

NEW GIRL, Max Greenfield Greg Gayne/FOX

Who knew douchiness could be so adorkable?!

We're thinking douchebags all over the world should be sending Max Greenfield, who plays the lovable Schmidt on Fox's hit comedy New Girl, bottles of champagne for the New Year considering how much he's improved their rep since September. Despite making regular deposits in the D-bag Jar, Schmidt's won over fans with his eternally optimistic attitude and ridiculously funny one-liners. (One of our favorites? "You've got some Schmidt on your face!") Oh yeah, constantly showing off his abs doesn't hurt, either. 

We chatted with Greenfield about playing the gloriously strange Schmidt, that online dating video inspired by The Hills and if there's anything he isn't willing to do for a laugh...

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When you took on the role, did you realize that fans were going to love Schmidt?
Um, no. [Laughs.] I think we shot five before we aired, and by the time I think we got to the fifth one, there was a point where I was like, "I may never work again," because I was just doing the most ridiculous things.

What do you think fans love Schmidt so much?
I think we've managed to give him a heart; we've managed to make him safe. I think that it's a tough role because especially on paper you immediately go, "I don't know about this guy." And then in the wrong hands this could be a real disaster. 

How do you channel Schmidt?
I think it's just fun to go there, you know. I'm so far away from that in real life, too. Well, to a degree. There are parts of me that are a little bit similar. [Laughs.] But I'm at home with my kids and my family for the most part, and so when I'm not waking up in the middle of the night with a baby and completely sleep deprived, I get to go to work in the morning and go jump off of walls and stuff.

And have your shirt off, like, 24/7...
Yeah, exactly! I just love the writers so much and I trust them so implicitly that it's just kind of like, "Whatever you guys tell me to do, let's go!"

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Has there been anything where you're like, "I can't believe they're making me do this"?
Every week. At this point I just tell them I don't care; it's almost like that thing where initially I'm scared but that is kind of part of the fun of it. It's like you're terrified, and then you go at it 100 percent and you come out of the other end like, "Oh, that was fun!"

Do you know anyone that reminds you of Schmidt?
I think he's kind of like a combination of a lot of people that I know and a lot of myself, so that's the greatest thing about him. You really get to pick and choose from different people and you can pretty much throw anything in at this point. 

How are you similar to Schmidt? 
I think at the end of the day Schmidt is very positive. Even in the pilot, when Jess moves into the house, when the other guys are a little skeptical, I think he initially was like, "All right, this is great! We'll get a girl in here."  He sees the good in the situation before he sees the bad. I think he's all around a pretty positive guy—he's just very passionate about certain things and he's got his way of living. 

MORE: 2011 Breakout TV Stars: The Secret Circle's Phoebe Tonkin Bares All (Thanks in Part to a Necklace Shirt)

Lamorne Morris, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Zooey Deschanel, New Girl Autumn DeWilde/FOX

Let's talk about that amazing dating profile you made for Schmidt with HelloGiggles. Was that your idea?
Yeah! I had originally made this video in the fat suit and I was singing a Rihanna song. It got pulled down, which was a real bummer, but it would have gotten pulled down at some point anyway. We were like, "Listen, Max, there were so many things wrong with the video that you made and you've got to consult us." Because Extra had the rights to reveal Fat Schmidt, and then we didn't have the rights to the song, and the studio was just like, "Please, please what are you doing?" So I said, "Look, it got a lot of exposure in the two hours that you let me keep it up." I was like, "Let's get the rights to a song and let's have fun." And they begrudgingly were like, "Oh, OK." I went to them and I was like, "How much would it be for the Natasha Bedingfield song?" It took us a few weeks, but we finally got the rights, and then once we got the rights we went and made the video.

And you're also posting Schmidt Tips on your Twitter profile, which are hilarious, by the way. Do you come up with those on your own?
Yeah, that's all me! I just started that. Me and one of the writers, Luvh Rakhe, have been goofing around and we're always like, "We gotta make Web content, we gotta make Web content!" And our writers work so hard and are literally there 16 to 18 hours, and the last thing they're thinking about is Web content. Schmidt Tips was supposed to be like Web content but it just felt more like a Twitter thing, so we started to do it and they're so much fun. I've gotten a really good response from the fans from them.  

Are there any shows that you are currently obsessed with, or do you not have a lot of time for TV with work and family?
I always make time for TV! Obviously, along with everyone else, I love Homeland, but that's over. I am a longtime supporter of The Office and I love Parks and Recreation. Those are my can't-miss, like I'll make sure that I watch them. And then I'm really excited about Girls. It's not on yet, but it's coming up on HBO. 

Finally, we have to ask: While fans really want Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake M. Johnson) get together, could you ever see Jess and Schmidt hooking up or would it be too weird? 
I think it would be too weird. I mean, if it ever did happen it would be like a drunken accidental thing where they would swear to never talk about it. But as far as a relationship, I don't know. Maybe if we're lucky enough to run for 11 years or something, then maybe in like year 10, because then we'd be like, "All right, let's just do it now. Let's just get it over with! This is ridiculous!"

Are you loving Greenfield's Schmidt Tips (example: "#60 TV watching: Never let a fly honey know how exited you get for a 'makeover' show.") as much as we are? Do you think Schmidt is the most lovable TV douchebag ever? Would you like to see Jess and Schmidt have an awkward one-night stand? Sound off in the comments! Plus, check back with us next week for a chat with Greenfield about a little show you might have heard of...Veronica Mars.

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