Max Greenfield on a ‘New Girl’ Bone-versary and His Big-Screen ‘Fist Fight’

Max Greenfield and Hannah Simon
Ray Mickshaw/FOX
L-R: Max Greenfield and Hannah Simone in the "Operation: Bobcat" episode of New Girl

Whether he’s mispronouncing words like a fancy boy or freaking out over his marriage to Cece (Hannah Simone), New Girl‘s Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is one of our favorite comedy oddballs. And Tuesday night, he’s caught up in a Valentine’s Day dilemma worthy of his unconventional love life. Off camera, Greenfield is having far more luck: He is one of the driving forces behind the teacher-vs-teacher comedy Fist Fight starring Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock). Not bad for a guy who used to need a douche jar.

Valentine’s Day is sort of a milestone anniversary for Schmidt and Cece. It’s their Bone-versary. How do they celebrate this year?
It’s an interesting time, because Schmidt has been so busy at work and he’s really going after a promotion. As much as he wants to spend time with Cece, which he does so desperately, I think he’s starting to feel the pressure and thinking that the future of their relationship is children and a family and a helpful step in that direction means him taking on more responsibility at work. So he’s sort of stuck in the office, trying to impress his boss when Cece gets the idea that she’s going to visit him at the office and they can celebrate the anniversary in style,

At work? Those plans never work out…
[Laughs] No. There’s be no show if they did!

I enjoy that Schmidt has this adult life now, but he still remains very committed to his beliefs and quirks.
Well, he’s an interesting television character because as most sitcom characters, I think, don’t change and do very much stay the same until maybe the very end of a series when you see like, “Oh maybe we’ve learned something.” He’s quite different in that I think, he’s changed dramatically, but beyond every change and with whatever scenario that he’s in, through this new version of himself, cracks off the old version just will continue to remain and come out. [Laughs]

And now you have Fist Fight, which you’re an executive producer on and are credited with the story idea. How did this happen?!
Well, I came up with the idea and brought it to Shawn Levy‘s company, 21 Laps. They loved it, so we brought in writers Evan Susser and Van Robichaux, who are both so great. The three of us sat down, really fleshed out the story and then those guys went off and wrote a script. Next thing you know, Charlie Day said yes to starring, then Ice Cube said yes and it felt like three weeks later, we were shooting a movie.

So how come not give yourself a role?
If I had done anything in the movie, it would have been sort of cameo-ish and I don’t know. It felt like if I’d done something like that and forced myself into the movie in that way, it would have taken people out of it for no real reason.

Did you know Charlie Day already?
We had a bunch of friends in common and work people in common. He is tremendous in the movie and so is Jillian Bell…she is scary, scary talented. It was also Tracy Morgan’s first job since his accident and he has not lost a thing. He is so unbelievable in this.

Where did the idea come from? Was two teachers fighting something you actually saw in high school?
[Laughs] No. But in the high school I went to and the middle school—probably more in middle school—there were always fights after school. It was always exciting, like “This is gonna be great.” So I thought, what if it’s two teachers instead of two kids? Imagine if you were a student and that was happening. Wouldn’t that be about the greatest thing?

Oh my god, yes.
That’s sort of where the idea came from. I felt that adults are way more pent-up than kids, or at least can be. The aggression in an adult is far scarier than that in a child. [Laughs]

Now that you’ve done this and New Girl, which experience was more of a challenge? In front of or behind the camera?
I feel like I produced this movie up until a point and then there were other producers on it who then came in and knew how to finish it. We ran it up until the point where they were off to Atlanta to go shoot the movie. Then after than point, I was very much still on the movie, but at that point deferring to people who’ve done this many, many times before. It just like sort of it ended up being a wonderful learning experience for me.

New Girl, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox

Fist Fight opens Friday, Feb. 17th nationwide