Max Greenfield broke out as New Girl’s endearing d-bag Schmidt, but Tuesday night he’ll pull double duty as he takes on a swaggering, be-scared guest role on The Mindy Project.
Coincidentally, both new episodes deal with the fallout of two break-ups. In New Girl’s “Big News,” Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) have to come clean that they’re just friends again, resulting in a “devastated” Schmidt. As for Mindy, “Think Like a Peter” follows Dr. L (Mindy Kaling) under the tutelage of her frat bro colleague Peter (Adam Pally), who tries to get the rom-com obsessive into the male mindset and maybe even help her score with Lee (Greenfield’s “first-grade teacher who is up to no good”).
“It was a good threesome,” Greenfield teases of his chemistry with Kaling and Pally. ”It was fun to do something totally different. I’m sure there’s some Schmidt[-like] stuff in there, but I really don’t [think] there’s a moment when you go, ‘Oh, that’s the same guy from New Girl.’”
Judge for yourself as you watch an exclusive Mindy clip below, then keep reading for more scoop on both Fox favorites.
The “Think Like a Peter” role has been a while in the coming, says Greenfield, who is friends with both Kaling and Pally. He describes his two days on set with the former Happy Endings star as “like two kids sitting in the back of the class going, ‘All right, who’s going to be the first one to [make trouble]?’”
But, down to brass tacks: Do shippers still in mourning over Danny’s (Chris Messina) abrupt decision to dump Mindy have anything to worry about? Greenfield assures that there’s no major threat on the horizon. “I’m much more of a pawn in the situation,” he says. “It’s one of those [situations] where it kind of goes back and forth. [Peter] encourages the idea of Mindy and I and then discourages it once he realizes I’m not the nicest guy in the world.” In fact, Greenfield laughs, “He’s kind of appalled by me.”
Speaking of appalled, Greenfield teases that Schmidt will be the loftmate hit the hardest by news of Jess and Nick’s split. “He’s the kind of person who, once settled into the reality of a situation, he finds comfort in it,” says Greenfield. “I don’t think change is his favorite. When they do break the news, he becomes very upset.” And it’s a hurt that runs deep as Schmidt “finds similarities between their break-up and his mother and father’s divorce. It hits him hard.”
Whereas Schmidt might have turned to Jess’s bestie Cece (Hannah Simone) in the past, Greenfield says the reformed cheater is now trying to respect his ex, who’s just taken up with handsome younger man Buster (James Frecheville). “[Cece] seems to have a good thing going on with this younger guy,” says Greenfield, and Schmidt is “trying to come to terms with that and give her her own space. Ultimately, he just wants her to be happy more than anything else. As difficult as it is for him, he’s doing his best to back off and let her live her own life.”
And did I mention all this is happening against the backdrop of a “Honey Roast” for Winston (Lamorne Morris), which is meant to celebrate that he passed the LAPD entrance exam? While Jess and Schmidt understand the “delicate situation” and “don’t want to take away from Winston’s shine,” Schmidt could be another story, teases Greenfield.
As New Girl sets up its final two episodes, the break-up underscores bigger shifts happening at the loft. Greenfield promises this half hour is all about “pushing the story along. Nick and Jess have broken up, and the next question would be, ‘How’s everybody going to deal with it?’” He adds that season 3’s final episodes will handle “everybody finding a comfortable living space with one another.”
And with Schmidt doing naked yoga in Jess’s room for the foreseeable future, Greenfield laughs, “Maybe season 4 will be about boundaries.”
New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, with The Mindy Project following at 9:30 p.m. ET.