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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Typecasting Doesn’t Bother ‘New Girl’ Jewish Character Schmidt

"I don't think anybody was ever gonna put me in like 'Winter's Bone' anyway."
(From left) Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris and Jake Johnson in "New Girl."

(From left) Hannah Simone, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris and Jake Johnson in "New Girl."
Photo Credit: Fox

Here’s a new twist on the “Jews rule Hollywood” story, where nobody, no matter how Jewish they are, wants to spend the rest of their lives doing Jews on screen.

Max Greenfield, 32, nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role as Schmidt on the sophisticated comedy “New Girl” (Fox) told AP he isn’t worried about being typecast.

“I don’t think anybody was ever gonna put me in like ‘Winter’s Bone’ anyway,” he told an interviewer recently. “You know what I mean? I don’t think like if they were making a very dramatic, serious movie, they were gonna think, ‘You know, I really like Max Greenfield, but Schmidt is just … it’s too much of a THING to put him in that movie.’”

It’s funny because it’s true.

“I don’t think they’re trying to put me in ‘Saving Private Ryan. ‘We’re looking for Ryan. (Pauses.) Is that Schmidt?’ ” he said. “I’m fine. I’m getting to do everything I want to do on this show.”

“New Girl” is the story of Jess (Zooey Deschanel, sister of “Bones” star Emily Deschanel), a young woman sharing an apartment with three male roommates: Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris.

Schmidt plays a vain, formerly obese, ladies man, who makes frequent references to his Jewishness. He is a kind of latter day Wile E Coyote, forever scheming to get ahead in the game of love, and always, predictably, running into the tunnel painting on the mountainside where his prey had just entered.

Greenfield is held in high esteem by his peers.

“I wanna live in a world where the only person I see or interact with is Schmidt,” actress Mindy Kaling tweeted last year. Gwyneth Paltrow wrote in her newsletter, GOOP, that she “fell in TV love” with the character.

Greenfield manages to make Schmidt be borderline loveable, despite his role as the show’s caliginous member.

“I thought, ‘There’s a good chance that I’ll never work again after this.’ I mean, we’ve played him in such a way that this could go terribly wrong, and then we started to air and the response was so positive. It kind of affirmed all the things that the writers were doing, all the things that I was doing. I think it said to everyone, ‘We’re on the same page. We can keep moving forward.’ And then they just went crazy with it.”

Schmidt’s first name is yet to be revealed, and Greenfield hopes it never will be, unless it gets squeezed in in a funny or clever way.

One of my secret pleasures here, in Netanya, is to download the Yanover family’s favorite TV shows’ current segments (Oh, don’t judge me!), for those Saturday nights with nothing better to do – and “New Girl” is up there on our list, right behind Big Bang Theory and The Office. And Modern family, and The Middle. Right behind those.

And The Good Wife.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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