As you probably have noticed given our eager posts on Instagram, we were asked to interview actor Max Greenfield before his talk this past Saturday. Backstage, the two of us were feeling all sorts of excitement and nerves. We’d never been that close to a real life celebrity! And not just any celebrity- THIS WAS SCHMIDT!!!! Like THE Schmidt. Are we going to shake hands with him? Or are we going to hug? An awkward high five situation, perhaps? But behind all of these thoughts lied an issue of our utmost concern: Is Max Greenfield going to be like Schmidt? As we waited outside the door anxiously waiting to be invited, all we could do was hope he would be. Spoiler alert: He was exactly like Schmidt. Oh and we shook hands with him. Anyways, here’s a little taste of backstage:
We started off by asking him what is it like playing the character of Schmidt, to what extent are Max Greenfield and Schmidt similar and how have you tied your Jewish identity into playing this role. Greenfield told us that three to four years into filming the show, he found New Girl’s pitch page, aka Liz Meriwether’s original vision for the show and each character. He smiled to himself and said that when he read the Schmidt character description, it was “so eerily accurate as to who I was as a person.” Our prayers had been answered. Phew. He went on to say that he’s confident that this role was made for him. “I don’t think there was a single other actor who could’ve gotten this.”
While he was filled with gratitude by how perfect the role was for him, he also joked that all of his “good acting” was not a matter of talent, but rather him merely being himself. With regards to the Jewish aspect of Schmidt’s character, Greenfield explained that as soon as the writers opened up that sector, he was inevitably going to lean into it as well. An episode in Season 1 was about Schmidt’s bar mitzvah, and Greenfield said that having this relatable content gave Schmidt’s character real depth and specificity. Jewish viewers could see themselves in him. Non-Jewish viewers could recall someone they know like “that guy.” On stage, Greenfield talked about his own bar mitzvah, which was SNL themed of course, complete with an Adam Sandler table and a Blues Brothers cake. He didn’t go into depth as to what an Adam Sandler table exactly looks like, but we’d be curious to find out.
Going off of the Jewish theme, we asked how the religion plays a role in his family. Greenfield explained that while he himself is Jewish, his wife is not. Therefore, they are light on religion within their household. He said that their children are still young, and they celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. Double the presents, double the fun. If they later become interested in religion (of either faith), it would be very accessible to them, he remarked. He wrapped up our interview with a brief anecdote, recalling an old trick his dad had taught him: how to make the best challah french toast! He explained, “I’m a horrible cook, but it’s really hard to blow that recipe. Throw a little cinnamon on there and you’re good to go.”
Alas, our ten-minutes-of-fame with Schmidt- wait, we mean Max- had come to an end. We ended it with another handshake and a quick photo op. As we headed out to join the rest of the audience before his talk, we couldn’t stop smiling. Oh… and in case you were wondering, he still wouldn’t quite say how to play True American, except for a tip of throwing out some American History, having a beer or two and calling it a day. If you happen to be reading this, Max, we love you!!!!!!