Photography by Mr Kai Z Feng | Styling by Mr Grant Woolhead
Words by Mr Jonathan Hey
After just two seasons of Fox's sitcom New Girl, Mr Max Greenfield has become something of a comedy icon. That's because his character, Schmidt, is such a ridiculous, over-the-top, self-important, loveable loser - a perfect foil to the wide-eyed optimism of his roommate Jess, played so indelibly by Ms Zooey Deschanel.
As Schmidt's popularity has risen, thanks, in part, to several viral videos Mr Greenfield made, including one of Schmidt's dating profile (his perfect match? Himself) and another where he teaches a spinning class to an empty room with the energy of a banshee, so has his red carpet quotient.
This year, after swooning over a certain designer in a guest-edited entry for Ms Gwyneth Paltrow's website, Goop (Ms Paltrow tweeted about how big a fan she was of his character), Mr Greenfield finally got his wish: the designer sent him a tuxedo to wear at the Golden Globes, where Mr Greenfield was nominated for his role on New Girl.
"I will never own a nicer piece of clothing in all of my life," says Mr Greenfield, who grew up in Westchester, New York, and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Ms Tess Sanchez, a casting director, and their daughter, Lilly. "You feel like a different man. That thing fits you in a way that you think - maybe I could kick some ass in this thing. Sometimes I just wear it around the house. I'm not proud of it, but every once in a while I'll just put it on and say, 'Honey, take a look at me in this thing.'"
You've done an incredible job of making Schmidt "live" off television screens. Was that always on the cards?
Well, that's what we wanted to do. We've turned it into kind of a performance piece. I fully understand the joke of Schmidt and I had some outside ideas I wanted to play with. That's how the spinning class video happened. It was, "Look, I know where I live on this, and what my position is and if it continues to gain momentum and success I'm going to be Kramer from Seinfeld." Definitely of my co-stars, my character is certainly the most showy. Rather than going, "No I'm not like him", or "I'm not going to do that", I fully embraced it. I said, "Let's go at it 100%." The idea is to let people know that you are so in on the joke that you maybe supersede the pigeonhole of it all.
Did you know the viral videos would find an audience?
The online dating profile making fun of The Hills - that I knew was a home run. The spin video I did not. That one was just fun. New York magazine's Vulture website had written a piece on Schmidt's work-out ethic, and I said, "I will show you exactly what it looks like", and we went and shot it. And then we put it up and people freaked out. You have to find these little pockets of interest. And you can really hit hard in that one place of the 18% that go, "Yes, you did that correctly". And there's another 82% going, "What is this?"
Have any celebrities asked you for advice on how to go viral?
No. It's no secret that you've just got to find the right concept. You've got to know how to get out on the internet and catch or impact the right audience. As for Twitter, you can't overthink it. It's all about
content and getting stuff out there and letting people know what you're doing. Lena Dunham is great at it. Mindy Kaling is great at it. It's important to create a personality on Twitter so that whomever reads your feed doesn't just read it, they hear you saying it.
From left: Ms Deschanel and Messrs Jake M Johnson, Greenfield and Lamorne Morris in the first series of the hit sitcom, 2011
THE GOLDEN GLOBES
Mr Greenfield and Ms Tess Sanchez at the 70th edition of the awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, January 2013
Mr Eric Lively and Mr Greenfield in the first series of the US sitcom, 2006
Ms Kristen Bell and Mr Greenfield in the US television series, 2005
Has playing Schmidt changed the way you dress?
Well I've got some nice clothing. I do like to dress it up a little. It's fun. I like my clothes. I like to pick out stuff myself. I'm a big fan of Band of Outsiders. I've always loved them. I love the Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers stuff by Thom Browne. And it's fun to put on a Gucci suit and do a photoshoot and think, "Man, I feel slick right now." And then when I got dressed for the Golden Globes I was like, "I'm in the James Bond suit."
What would Schmidt's 10 style commandments be?
I feel as if any rules he creates are solely based on what time it is. They're ever changing. He's just a guy who opens up a magazine, sees Justin Timberlake in a suit and tries to carry that off as his own, as if he's never seen it. I think probably to some degree that could sum it up, because Justin Timberlake is maybe the furthest thing away from a chubby Jewish kid who is really uncomfortable in his own skin.
Is there anything Mr Timberlake has done that Schmidt would not?
Not a thing. He definitely would have been into the denim phase. He would have watched that HBO concert and said, "There it is. That defines how I want to live my life and how I want to be perceived." But Schmidt's spins are horrible and totally ruin it. Everywhere Justin Timberlake goes right, Schmidt goes wrong.
Does Schmidt like fancy sneakers?
Yeah, he likes fancy everything.
What is your philosophy about shoes?
All you need is a good pair of boots and a nice pair of dress shoes. I'm not big on wearing sneakers. I like to wear them for a work-out. I've never been that guy, but if you rock the Converse I'm totally
Is there anything you always travel with?
I'm really into a V neck, like this Black Fleece one I'm wearing. I take this pretty much everywhere. It's always good to have it. You can dress it up a little, you can throw it over a T-shirt. It's a nice, kind-of-covers-everything item. If I had a uniform it would be a blue V-neck sweater.
What else are you working on?
I did a movie last summer called They Came Together. It's by David Wain and Michael Showalter, kind of like a Wet Hot American Summer 2. If they invited me to do a movie every summer I would take no money and show up wherever they wanted me. And the cast was just insane: Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler and all the guys from The State. These people are on another level.
Would you ever consider doing a Schmidt clothing line?