"New Girl" fans have fallen hard and fast for the gruff, miserable and utterly lovable Nick Miller. Season 2 of Fox’s twee hit was almost too much to handle (ahem, that kiss) -- but the game of cat and mouse ended happily, with Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) throwing caution to the wind, speeding off into the sunset -- all to the poignant lyrics of “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
While they're an easy pair to root for, Johnson's Nick Miller has muscled his way into the leading man heavyweight division through atypical means -- why were we so charmed by his insistence to wear a female trench? So, when HuffPost TV caught up with the 35-year-old actor we just had to ask: Does he understand the Nick Miller appeal?
“I really don’t," Johnson said. “I think he’s a great character. I think he’s very flawed, but I really like that he’s flawed.”
With season three just around the bend, Johnson spoke to HuffPost about his predictions for Nick and Jess, his criticisms of “Breaking Bad” and why he calls Schmidt “the gay cousin I never wanted.”
How many takes did you do to get that kiss with Jess?
It happened pretty fast. We ended up doing like, six or seven takes. I think we’re both playing these characters as that other character really means a lot to us, so when we finally got the opportunity to kiss in a scene, we both really wanted to go for it, we didn’t want it to be some kind of nothing moment that kind of gets looked over.
Do you ask Liz [Meriwether] questions about the evolution of their relationship?
I do, yeah. And I’m told that nobody really knows ... I don’t know how they’re going to sustain their relationship in this point in their lives. They're constantly on the verge of screwing it up. It feels like one wrong thing from either of them and the thing is gonna blow up. And that's not exactly the way to have a healthy relationship, so it feels as if these characters need to go through some life experiences and relationships before they end up with each other for good, if they can end up with each other for good.
How was filming that naked dance scene?
That one was really hard because as evident by my body of work -- and I quite literally mean my body of work -- I'm not a guy who goes to the gym all the time. And even though the creators of the show would like me to more, I just don’t know if I have it in me. When I'm in a scene and I’m naked and dancing, I'm like, I don’t think anyone in the world needs to see this but I don’t have a choice because that’s what they wrote. And the crew is a bunch of gruff dudes. There were like, 50 dudes and me and I’m dancing in my underwear and I'm like, man, this just doesn’t feel right to me.
Do you watch the show when it airs?
I do, yeah.
What other TV shows do you watch?
I watch “Breaking Bad”... *SPOILER* In that last episode, where everybody was shooting, if one of the big three isn't dead -- Walt, Jesse or Hank -- I think they cheated a little bit ... I'm getting sick of Hank’s shit. I personally really loved Hank when he was funnier. You know, I get it; Hank's serious and determined to bring down Walt, but I really like Walt.
I also didn’t like when Jesse spit in his face. Look, Walt’s a bad dude, and Walt’s done some crazy shit, but he has always had Jesse’s back. He loves Jesse. I think he may even love Jesse more than he loves his family. I mean, he definitely loves everybody on the show more than he loves that baby -- who just sometimes cries. I've never seen a character not care about a newborn baby more than Walt. I've watched every episode, I don’t even know that baby’s name. I just know that baby sometimes cries. And, who takes care of that baby when Skyler’s at the car wash?! They have a meth empire, but do they have a nanny?
Did you have a television crush growing up?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. First of all, Winnie Cooper. I was head over heels in love with her for way too many years after the end of “Wonder Years.”
Is it true that Schmidt criticizes your appearance in real life?
Almost constantly. In truth, Max [Greenfield] turned into a very good friend of mine. You know, like, outside of the show, I find him so funny and so strange. He’s actually one of the strangest men I’ve ever been around. But on a nearly constant basis I’m hearing how overweight I’ve become, how bad of a dresser I am, how confused the American public is for thinking I’m attractive when actually, I’m one of the ugliest men in show business, how terrible my acting choices are. [Laughs] Max is like the gay cousin I never wanted.
Schmidt’s first name doesn’t exist, have you ever theorized on-set what it could be?
Yeah, very briefly. But sadly, with that stuff, any real decision is so out of our hands that talking about it makes us feel like losers.
"New Girl" returns on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.