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By Suzanne

Jake Johnson

Interview with Jake Johnson of "New Girl" on FOX 10/31/11

FBC PUBLICITY: New Girl Conference Call with Jake Johnson
October 31, 2011/5:00 p.m. EDT

SPEAKERS
Todd Adair
Jake Johnson

PRESENTATION

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the New Girl Conference with Jake Johnson. Phone lines are in a listen only mode. We are able to ask questions. And at this time, we'll turn the conference over to Todd Adair.

T. Adair Hi everyone, thanks for joining us today. New Girl returns with new episodes tomorrow night at 9/8 central following Glee. The show has been out for three weeks after having a three-week run and we return with a really big episode for Jake's character Nick. The episode is called “Naked.” It is up on the Fox online screening room currently. If you need access to that or if you forgot your passcode for it please feel free to email me following the call at todd.adair@fox.com. Jake, thanks for joining us today and we will open up the session to questions.

Moderator Thank you. Our first question will come from the line of Jim Halterman with AfterElton.com. Please go ahead.

J. Halterman Hey Jake. Thanks for your time today.

J. Johnson Thanks for having me. This is fun.

J. Halterman Yes. I really enjoyed the episode that's airing tomorrow night. It was very fun. Talk to me, Schmidt seems to be just a couple of sets away from having a little sexual identity crisis since he's so obsessed with your penis. Can you kind of talk about if that's going to be something we might see or do you think it's possible for Schmidt to eventually confront why he's very into this?

J. Johnson You know, it's an interesting question that you have to throw by the writer. I know what my personal opinion is, is that Schmidt is right on the line. But you never know what's going to happen; that's all up to Meriwether.

J. Halterman Okay and talk to me about shooting some of the scenes that you did. You know, you basically had to be pretty close to naked dancing in front of a mirror. Was that a challenge for you as an actor and just being self-conscious?

J. Johnson That was really embarrassing to be honest. Especially because we work with the same crew all the time and you become like a family. So there's like 40 members of your family watching you in really tight underwear dancing to reggae music. And then, you know, Zooey Deschanel walking in which doesn't feel great to be in tiny underwear in front of Zooey Deschanel and then Lake Bell coming in. These are two attractive women.

So it wasn't the easiest day of my work life. I'll tell you that. But I think the episode turned out. You know, I said to Jake Kasdan who was directing that episode, I tried to weasel out of it and said, "Maybe Nick would be wearing a shirt," and he just very easily he said, "No he would not. He is going to be shirtless in the episode and in tiny underwear." So that's as far as that talk went.

J. Halterman That's funny. All right. Thanks so much Jake.

J. Johnson Thank you.

Moderator Next we have a question from the line of Chris Ruth with VoiceofTV.com.

C. Ruth Hey Jake. Thanks for taking our call.

J. Johnson Oh, yes, no problem.

C. Ruth Hey is there any–do guys know if there's any like family members of any of the guys that we might be meeting soon, siblings, or parents, or anything like that that would be brought in?

J. Johnson You know, we haven't. We're on Episode 10 right now and we haven't met any siblings of anybody. But there are references to, so far, Nick's parents, and in an episode called “Injured” I think you briefly meet his parents. Or at least you hear his parents because there's an episode that's coming up later where Nick gets hurt and there's a real health scare and he doesn't have health insurance. We figure out why he doesn't have health insurance and it's because of his childhood and his parents’ tough love approach with him.

C. Ruth Okay. And then, we know that in the pilot we talked about Jess's mom and she lives out of the state. Do you know if there are plans on bringing her in as well?

J. Johnson Yes. I heard there was talk where we all just found out that Jess was from Oregon. And there's a Christmas episode we're doing where she's describing her experience growing up and how bubbly Jess saw it. And I don't know if that's the truth that's just at least through her eyes. But I think at some point her parents will definitely be coming into the show.

C. Ruth Thank you.

J. Johnson Thank you.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Heather Peterson with For The Love Of TV!

H. Peterson Hi Jake. Thanks so much for joining us today.

J. Johnson Thank you.

H. Peterson Just a–actually a two-part question for you because it seems to be most of the people that I talk to who really love the show has been seeing sparks that are kind of flying even this early on between your character and Zooey's character, Jess. So I was just wondering if that's something that's just kind of intentional that the writers are having a path of you guys going down right now or if that's basically a natural chemistry that you and Zooey are kind of projecting onscreen right now?

J. Johnson You know, I'll be honest, I think it's a little bit of both. I think when we did the pilot it wasn't necessarily there while we were reading the pages of it. And then I think when Zooey and I were doing our things together there was a natural chemistry between the two of us. And I think we both also really like working with another and I think the writers saw that and liked it and had been going towards it. But I think the way they'll play it or the way it's been played so far is the way, kind of, romances like that work in real life and that's–the stuff takes time.

H. Peterson Yes, it definitely come across on screen with you guys just coming out of long term relationships and kind of knowing where each other has been. It definitely comes across. I was just wondering if it's something you thought the writers would move. Actually, for your opinion, for your character would you like to see him move forward just down that direction or is everything going to kind of stay platonic at this point do you think? And what do you want to see?

J. Johnson You know, that's a good question. I kind of think where they're at right now is they're playing it kind of perfectly and that's–Jess's character, Justin Long comes on. He'll be coming on in the third week in November and he plays the Zooey's boyfriend for a few episodes. And my character started dating a woman named Julia played by Lizzy Caplan. And I think what it is between Jess and Nick is they're just really keeping tabs on each other.

I think with all great romances, or at least a lot of them, I shouldn't say all. But, like, they start off as really solid friendships. And so I think Jess and Nick are in that state of really kind of feeling each other out and if it happens to go in that direction, great. And if not, then not because I don't think they as characters know exactly what they want to have happen yet. But I think they both definitely noticed each other.

H. Peterson Great. Well thank you very much. I appreciate it.

J. Johnson Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from the line of Kim Jones with Fox.com.

K. Jones Hi. There certainly was a lot of promotion before the episode before the pilot aired. And I'm sure, you know, there's no sure thing in the television industry. So, I just didn't know, were you prepared for how quickly it caught on right after the pilot aired and what are your thoughts about where it's gone from there?

J. Johnson I was not prepared. No. I was very hopeful because we're all really having a lot of fun doing it. And we all kind of thought within the inner circle of it that we had something special. But you never know. So, when right away a lot of people thought–people came in at Fox and we are at the table reading, all the executives and everyone was really happy. And that's when I started realizing that we had something really special and early on successful on our hands.

Then, when we got word while we were filming I think Episode 4 that we've got picked up for the back 12. And that was a really, really great feeling and experience to realize this job that I really love and this character, Nick, who I'm really excited about going deeper with and all the cast and crew are really special. So I'm like great. Now I get to keep doing this through April and we get to really develop this story.

K. Jones Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. We go to the line of Jim Halterman with AfterElton.com.

J. Halterman Hey again Jake. I just wanted to ask you, you kind of touched on the story where Nick has to go to a doctor and I guess what I read is that it's a friend of Jess's that plays the doctor or is the doctor. Can you tell me about that a little bit?

J. Johnson Yes. It's played by June Raphael who's incredibly funny, a good actor. And, basically, the story is without getting in trouble by giving too much away is I get hurt playing football. Jess accidentally knocks into me and my back really hurts so she takes me to a doctor, because I don't have health insurance, with a gynecologist. And the gynecologist sees something on me that should actually, seriously, get checked out. So that starts off the scare, if you will.

J. Halterman Okay. And do you know which episode that is?

J. Johnson You know, we just finished filming that one. So that was nine. But with this order I don't know if it'll be on TV until January.

J. Halterman Okay. And at this point do you–

J. Johnson It was a really fun one to shoot. Lynn Shelton directed it and she just crushed it.

J. Halterman Oh, good. Do you feel like at this point it's better if everybody is single and out there dating as opposed to getting in relationships whether it's with each other or with other people?

J. Johnson You know, I don't really know. To be honest, I kind of see it both ways. I like the–in the “Naked” coming up, my character is dating Lake Bell for an episode. And that was really fun because she was able just to come in and be hilarious for an episode. But Zooey's character is dating Justin Long for a bit and it has been really nice having somebody come back. So, when you have these great guest stars it's sometimes kind of nice just to have them around a little bit.

J. Halterman Yes. Alright. Thanks so much, Jake.

J. Johnson Yes. Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Umika Pidaparthy with CNN.com.

U. Pidaparthy Hi Jake. Thanks so much for joining us today.

J. Johnson Thank you.

U. Pidaparthy So, I've noticed that you've actually worked with Jonah Hill on Allen Gregory and now with 21 Jump Street and previously with Get Him to the Greek. So do you think we can expect Jonah to perhaps make a cameo in New Girl? Is there something that could happen which would be awesome?

J. Johnson Jonah and I became friends when I did a thing called Clark and Michael with Michael Cera and Clark Duke and Max Winkler. And Jonah went around watching that and then since then he got me auditions for his movies and we've become good friends while working together. And I can honestly say once a week I send him a text saying, "Hey, do you want to come on the show and do anything?"

So if Jonah Hill it ever wants to be on New Girl I will be in Liz Meriwether's office begging for them but I’m sure it'll be easy. I know he's exceptionally busy with his movies right now. But I would love to see Jonah Hill on the show. He's truly one of the funniest dudes I've ever met.

U. Pidaparthy Okay, great. Thanks.

J. Johnson Thank you.

Moderator Next we have the question from the line of Joy Alicia with Pop On The Pop.

J. Alicia Hello Jake. How are you doing today?

J. Johnson Doing great. How are you?

J. Alicia I'm great. I love the show. So what are some of the similarities and differences between you and your character Nick?

J. Johnson I think the similarities between myself and Nick is I don't think either of us necessarily love jumping out and doing things before thinking about it. I think we both like to try to analyze situations first which means we might stand on the sidelines a little bit too long. I think we're both pretty grounded as people.

Differences, he cries a lot more than me and I think he's a little bit whinier than I am. And I also think the big difference between Nick and I is, as Jake, I have an acting career and Nick doesn't have anything yet. So I think Nick would be pretty well off if he found whatever it is that he likes to do and then starts doing that.

J. Alicia And as far as you mentioned Nick standing on the sidelines do you think at this point or in the near future that his character could even ask Jess out on a date because there definitely is some chemistry there. But as Nick's character do you think he would even, you know, ask?

J. Johnson That's a good question. I don't think he would right now. No. I think Nick would have to be in love with her for so long that it would have to be like a gas tank overflowing. And then finally he would have to force himself to have no choice. But I don't think right now Nick would have the guts to do it.

J. Alicia I completely agree. And I don't really think Jess would either.

J. Johnson I don't think Jess would either.

J. Alicia Your career is striving considering that you haven't lived in L.A. for very long. So when you would get rejected for roles what kept you motivated?

J. Johnson You know, it's kind of like, I view it like baseball in that if you get 3 hits out of 10, you're an All-Star. If you get 4 out of 10, you're a Hall of Famer. So that means you failed 6 times out of 10. I kind of view it with acting it just takes one or two really good parts for people to see what you can do. And so all the failures I just kind of blow them off to the side and say, well just once I started getting my looks the game will keep getting easier and easier and easier. And because I really love doing it.

J. Alicia And we just love watching you.

J. Johnson Oh thanks. That's very nice of you to say. It's easier for me to fail when I really want to do what it is I'm failing at. If I was like trying to be something like a lawyer and I didn't want to do it once I failed I'd use that as an excuse to quit law school. But I really want to act. I really love it.

J. Alicia Yes. That's a very good point. Thank you so much Jake.

J. Johnson Thank you so much.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Lauren Tracy with TV Watcher.

L. Tracy Hi. I was hoping you could talk a little bit more about the men of New Girl or the guys of New Girl. So much of the early press coverage was about Zooey Deschanel and coming to television. But I feel like a lot of us are falling in love the bromance of what's going on with Nick and Schmidt and Winston. And maybe you could talk just a little bit about working with the other gentleman as actors and also about where you see some of the buddy-type stories going?

J. Johnson I would say this, honestly, and I've heard other actors say that and I would think they're phony. But working with Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris is awesome. They are so funny and good and become legitimate friends of mine, that going to work is easy. We all want the other guy to be funny and good and so no one is trying to take from anybody else. We just like each other. And I think that makes it a lot easier that we're doing bits in between takes and keeping each other laughing. And so when they call action we're already in mid-scene with each other.

And where I see this stuff going, I think it's just kind of–I'm not really sure. We'll just continue to explore who these guys are because they're all very different. Especially Schmidt and Nick are almost opposites. But what always happens in the episodes coming up even when they really piss each other off because there's a couple of episodes where they kind of battle each other; they have each other's back at the end of the day.

And I do feel that way about Max and Lamorne, that no matter what—like, we went through the audition process together, Max and I were cast together and we fought to get Lamorne. And so there's already a loyalty that we all have as guys to each other. So I feel like what's nice is the characters have that also.

L. Tracy Great and just one follow-up question. How much of what we see in the final cut were actually words on the page or how much improvisation goes on on a daily basis while you're shooting with Max or Lamorne?

J. Johnson You know, I would say probably 90% to 95% is on the page. But what happens is there are a lot of like we'll shoot the scene and then once we get it they'll be writers will throw different outlines and then we'll goof around a little bit. But the TV schedule is so intense and we have so much to do in a day that we're not able to like–in the movies I've done we've mostly had like time to completely improvise. And that's not quite the case where we each add our own kind of taste to it. But it's mostly pretty much on book.

L. Tracy Alright. Thank you for your time.

J. Johnson Thank you.

Moderator Having time for one last question we'll go to the line of Chris Ruth of VoiceofTV.com.

C. Ruth Hi Nick. You kind of just touched on this a little bit but I was just wondering if there was anything coming up in the episodes that are strictly the guy centric storylines?

J. Johnson Yes. There's a story coming up. I think it's “Bells,” actually, where ... redirected but he did a phenomenal job on, where Winston's story goes with Zooey and Schmidt and Nick have a storyline just the two of them really where Nick thinks of himself as a fix-it man. So whenever something goes wrong in the house Nick fixes it. And Schmidt who's got a little bit more money than him would rather hire somebody to actually fix them. And Nick and Schmidt have a full on battle and it turns into a war between the two of them and how the house should be run. It's just a really funny fun stuff where Nick and Schmidt are just blowing up at each other and fighting and just having a war and kind of getting after it.

C. Ruth All right. Yes, that's been my favorite part of the show so far is the dynamic between Nick and Schmidt.

J. Johnson That's nice to say. Max is a really fun guy to work with. We've been having a really good time.

C. Ruth Alright, thank you very much.

J. Johnson Thank you man.

Moderator Thank you. And there are no further questions in queue so please continue.

T. Adair Yes. Thank you everyone for joining the call today. Again, New Girl returns with new episodes tomorrow night at 9:01/8:01 central. “Naked,” the episode that premieres tomorrow night, is on the Fox online screen room. Jake, thanks again for taking the time out of your production schedule to join us today and we hope to talk to everyone soon. Thank you.

J. Johnson Thank you guys.

Moderator Thank you. That does conclude our conference for today. We do thank you for your participation and for using the AT&T Executive TeleConference.

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