Check out this TVLine interview of Zooey talking about the upcoming Emmys and the new season of New Girl:
TVLINE | I hope you’re not superstitious, because I’d like to wish you luck with that Emmy nod I suspect you’re about to get.
Oh, thanks. But I haven’t won anything since fifth-grade student council, so I try not to think about that stuff. I mean, obviously, I would be to-the-moon excited if I were to be recognized. But I would never want to even assume [that I might get a nomination].
TVLINE | Understood. But you must have some sense that Jess is already, in a way, iconic — like a Mary Richards or a Carrie Bradshaw.
I just love this character. I remember reading the pilot script and thinking [that she] sort of represented a generation that I hadn’t seen before. And right away, I got so many ideas. I thought, ‘I could just endlessly work on this.’
TVLINE | A lot of people seem to have the perception that Jess is you. What percentage of her actually is?
There are parts of me that I put in her, but I throw myself into every character. I find the truth by filtering it through my own emotions. A lot of times, I’ve told people that Jess is like a teenage version of myself, but that’s maybe misleading in that it makes it sound like she is me. She’s not. She’s this wonderful collaboration that I’ve had with [series creator] Liz Meriwether. Plus, the character evolved. I watch her every week and see what’s working, and I adjust. It’s nice to be able to do that.
TVLINE | That kind of development really went on with all the characters over the course of the season.
That’s one thing that I liked about the show from the start, that I could see any one of these characters being the comic relief in a scene or the straight man. You could really shake it up, which makes for a pretty versatile cast of characters.
TVLINE | It also lends itself to a shifting dynamic, which might have surprised the critics who pigeonholed the show — and Jess — right away.
A lot of people didn’t even see the pilot, they only saw the promo for it and were like, “Oh, I don’t know about that!” But we’re talking about someone in a very heightened state who had just gone through a crazy break-up. You go through very broad strokes of emotion [at times like that]. As the season went on, it was wonderful to be able to play with a more subtle palette. Jess can [still] be awkward, but she’s not just constantly on one level.
TVLINE | The audience seemed to very quickly latch onto Jess and roommate Nick as not just a potential couple but the couple to root for. Will they get together next season?
I don’t actually know, because the writing staff hasn’t started breaking stories yet. But I hope Jake Johnson and I at least get more scenes together. [Early on, the powers that be] saw that there was good chemistry and were like, “Oh, crap!” They didn’t want to throw us together and ruin something.
TVLINE | By making it a show about this couple instead of a show about this bunch of friends?
Right. So I feel like [Jess and Nick’s feelings] could be unrequited, it could go on forever; it could happen and then fall apart… I don’t know!
TVLINE | Anybody you’d like to see come in and play an interim boyfriend before we finally get to Jess and Nick?
No. I just want the best actors that we can find. They don’t have to be famous. I’m not invested in stunt-casting. But I also don’t even want to say “finally get to Jess and Nick” since I don’t know that that’s where the show will go.
TVLINE | OK, we won’t say that, then. Whatever happens at the Emmys, how did it feel to be kind of the face of this TV season? I mean, you were everywhere — magazine covers, billboards, commercials…
To me, that just meant that our network was behind the show, which was really amazing. I came to this from doing tons of movies, [so I know that it’s gotten] harder to get people to go out and see movies, especially ones that may be of the same ilk as New Girl, which is a more character-driven comedy. That’s what I like to do. The fact that we were able to do this and have people watch… I love that.