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Things You Didn’t Know About New Girl

New Girl, which airs on the Fox network, is a comedic sitcom which first premiered in September, 2011. The show stars Zooey Deschanel as a Jess, a teacher who moves to Los Angeles and ends up rooming with three men–Nick (played by Jake Johnson); Schmidt (played by Max Greenfield); and Winston, played by Lamorne Morris.

The show follows Jess as she becomes accustomed to her new life in Los Angeles, and her many quirks that sometimes put her at odds with her three new roommates. The show also focuses heavily on themes of adulthood, maturity and life changes, as the characters are in their 30s and deal with the struggles that come with this stage of adulthood.

The show, which is currently preparing to air its fifth season, has received generally favorable reviews from critics over the past few years. Critical reviews of the show praise its offbeat humor and the quirky performance of Zooey Deschanel, which—as the show’s creator has noted—would likely make her character a supporting role in any other series. The fact that the show stars a quirky, offbeat character makes it unique among sitcoms with similar settings and themes.

Whether you’re a longtime fan or are just now catching up on the series, take a look at some interesting trivia that you probably didn’t know about New Girl.

Nick and Winston Swapped Personalities

 

Nick in 'New Girl'
Nick in ‘New Girl’

In the original concept of the show, the character of Nick was meant to be a mature adult who had everything in his life under control; while the character of Winston was supposed to be immature and unprepared for real adulthood. However, over time the writers began to feel that the character of Nick fit more naturally into the role of an immature adult whereas Winston seemed to have everything together. The writer’s then decided to write Winston’s growing development into the story and showcase Nick’s immature side more often.

Zooey Deschanel was almost overlooked for the role of Jess

It’s impossible to imagine New Girl with a different actress in the role of Jess. After all, it’s Zooey Deschanel personal quirks that have made the character what she is in the show today. However, it’s true: she was not the original choice for Jess, and there were other actresses in the running for the role. According to the creative team behind the show, Amanda Bynes came extremely close to being cast in the role.

The actors frequently improv on set

'Winston Bishop' played by Lamorne Morris
‘Winston Bishop’ played by Lamorne Morris

While the show has scripts and set stage directions for each scene, the creative team often lets the cast do what they feel is most organic when filming. They are encouraged to improv by adding lines, changing lines, or doing something different during the scene than is written in the script; much of the time, their improv is kept in for the final edit of the episode.

Zooey Deschanel read with every actor who auditioned

Zooey Deschanel was very invested in the show; so invested, in fact, that she decided to personally read with every actor who auditioned for the role of the three roommates. This is very unusual in Hollywood, as random assistants are usually called in to read lines with the auditionees, unless the people who audition are high profile actors or the creative team wants to judge chemistry with someone who has made it past the first few rounds of auditions. Zooey Deschanel, on the other hand, read with every person who auditioned, even if it was their first time reading for the role. It was thanks to her vigilance during the audition process that the actors chosen for the series were so perfect in their roles, and had such great chemistry with each other.

One star is afraid of birds

Max Greenfield plays 'Schmidt' in New Girl
Max Greenfield plays ‘Schmidt’ in New Girl

Max Greenfield, who plays Schmidt in the show, has one particular fear: birds. Greenfield admitted in a few interviews that he is absolutely terrified of birds, which was only exacerbated by the show’s pilot episode which featured a real live vulture. In the few scenes Greenfield has had with birds, he admits he is terrified but pushes himself through it for the sake of the job.

The show is really into bears

Well—sort of. It’s not that shocking that a series like New Girl would have some kind of quirk, and some eagle-eyed (or rather, eagle-eared) fans of the show noticed one particular quirk that ran through every single episode of the series: bears. In some way, bears are mentioned in every single episode of the show. Why? No one behind the scenes of the show has revealed the reason for this inside joke, but it has given fans something to look out for when they tune in every week.

Deschanel and Johnson were told to avoid physical contact

Zooey Deschanel as 'Jess Day' on New Girl
Zooey Deschanel as ‘Jess Day’ on New Girl

For the first season of the show, Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson were instructed by the show’s creative team to avoid physical contact as much as possible. Why? Because they had so much chemistry together it was considered distracting to the regular storyline, and would overshadow everything else going on in the scene. Eventually, of course, the characters started a relationship–possibly due to the extreme chemistry between Deschanel and Johnson on set.

Lamorne Morris wasn’t the original choice for Winston

The role of Winston was actually offered to comedian Jerrod Carmichael. However, Carmichael turned down the part in order to put more focus on his stand-up comedic career. The role ultimately went to Lamorne Morris.

Damon Wayans Jr. was in an early pilot episode

Damon Wayans Jr, who plays the character of Coach introduced in the third season, was actually in one of the earliest pilot episodes for the series. Coach, at the time, was a character similar to Winston. At the time, Wayans was working on his own show, which he expected to be cancelled, allowing him the time to have a role on New Girl. The show ended up being renewed for several more seasons, so he turned down the job—when the show finally ended, his character was reworked and introduced into the third season.

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