A year ago, most people didn't know who Jake Johnson was. Today, men are stopping him in the street to say, "'What the f—k's your problem, dude? That's Zooey Deschanel, dude,'" as Johnson himself tells it. Since getting his big break on the Fox sitcom "New Girl" the 33 year-old has been routinely harassed for his character's wussy behavior when it comes his roommate and perennial lust-object Jess (Deschanel). The will-they, won't-they quality of the relationship has drawn so much attention that #NickandJess became a trending topic on Twitter as the show approached its first season finale.
As Johnson sat down with us to promote his upcoming film "Safety Not Guaranteed," co-starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass (hitting New York theaters this Friday), he took some time to analyze the greatest twee-affair of our time.
Metro: So, 'New Girl.' You yell a lot on the show.
Johnson: What I like about playing him is that I don't fully understand him. I know who Jess is. I know who Schmidt is. I'm starting to figure out who Winston is, but I don't know who Nick is and I think it's because – to get all deep and ridiculous – I don't think Nick has any idea who he is. He's wading through the madness of "f—k man, I am thirty years-old and I have not figured it out and I'm not getting any closer." There's panic and that sucks, so he yells.
What do you know about next season?
Nothing. I don't think they know. I think the reality of our show is that a lot of it exists in between [series creator] Liz Meriwether's ears and she doesn't know yet.
But your character and Zooey Deschanel's seemed to get closer at the end of the season.
For my storyline, I think there was a Nick-Jess thing and then they went really far away from it. But I think that was Liz. I think she didn't want it for a while. She thought at the beginning, that it was turning too Nick-Jess. And she was like, "I don't want this to be a relationship show." But then I think she went in her own mental evolution of it, I think she was like, "well, I want those characters to be together a little bit more." And so at the end of the season, they got really back together. People say, "Oh, I know exactly where the show's going. It's going to be this by season four." But I talk to Liz on a regular basis. We're friends. She doesn't have all the answers.
Where do you want to see those characters go?
I had times with Nick where I was like, "eh, I don't like this guy." I know what he does. I enjoy playing him, but like, stop crying. Stop being so nasty. And that was the beginning of "this dude is way weirder than I imagined." And I like weird people, so I was like, "OK, OK, you're going to get weirdsies aren't you pal?"
Do you think Jess and Nick could work as a couple?
They don't get along great, so in my opinion, they're more of a Sam and Diane from "Cheers" where everything about Sam and Diane, they were opposites. Nick is a realist going towards pessimism, not infatuated with the world, does not think sparkles cure everything, does not sing and dance through life. And Jess is, and they're both a little bit too far in one direction. I think Nick thinks deep down, "that's exactly what I need, that if I could get with her, as a team, we'd be a good pair." I think his fear is that he doesn't want to go to her and have her say no, because once she says no, it all disappears.
Well thanks for theorizing with us. Can't wait to see the next season!
It's still really new enough for me that it's interesting for me too, on my end and I don't feel ownership of it, so I wouldn't be having this talk if I was the writer, where I'd be like "I'm so interesting, how I'm doing this." I'm just a fan like everyone else.