Fox has a bonafide hit on its hands with this Fall season's comedy New Girl, from creator Elizabeth Meriwether. Zooey Deschanel has found the role of a lifetime playing newly single Jess, an eccentric (to say the least), newly single woman that decides to move into an apartment with three men she doesn't know. We recently caught up with director Jake Kasdan, long time friend of Zooey Deschanel, who also happens to producer her new show and helmed the pilot. We chatted about New Girl, which returns with Episode 1.05: Naked next Tuesday, October 25th.
Here is our conversation.
How happy have you been with the response New Girl is getting?
Jake Kasdan: Delighted. It has been this incredibly cool thing. We are deep in the mist of making it right now. It's been cool, we keep going and we try to make it good.
How worried were you guys about losing Damon Waynes Jr. after that first episode? He's so good in the pilot. I didn't want to like the new guy. It took me until the third episode to warm up to him. That's a pretty powerful thing to do with just a pilot. But I like him now. I think Lamorne Morris is a good fit.
Jake Kasdan: Yeah. We were really sad to lose Damon Wayans Jr., but we were also very relieved that Lamorne Morris was around, and that he was available. He had been someone that we'd seriously talked to about the part when we were doing the pilot. Then he got another job. We ended up finding Damon Wayans Jr.. That ended up working out great. Then, when Damon was no longer available, which was a surprise to us that it worked out that way, we were grateful to have someone so great that could step in. It was a story challenge in how to introduce a new character in just the second episode. Without complicating the premise. We did our best. So far, people seem to be sticking with it. Hopefully they will continue to watch.
Both you and Zooey have fathers that are quite well established in the movie business. Did you two know each other since you were kids?
Jake Kasdan: I've known her since she was a teenager. I am a little older than her. But I have known her for a long time, yeah. I'd always wanted to work with her. I'd tried to find stuff to work on with her before. This was the natural, perfect part for her. Elizabeth Meriwether called me up and asked if I'd direct the pilot. In that same couple of days, we thought the first thing we should do is get Zooey Deschanel to play this part. We were just excited that she wanted to.
Does that make it easier for you, when you already have that long standing relationship with someone, and you set out to take on a new project with them?
Jake Kasdan: Yeah. It is, a little. Its great to have a relationship like that. And to be able to turn it into something. Maybe, the fact that we did know each other, and we'd been trying to work together for along time...I like to think that helped bring her into this. Primarily, she fell in love with the role. I was there telling her that it would be everything she hoped it could be. And that I was going to do everything I could to do that with her.
I think, right now, Zooey might be the funniest girl on TV. She certainly is giving Kaitlin Olson a run for her money...
Jake Kasdan: That is nice to hear. She is amazing. We have some really fantastic episodes coming up that we are really excited about, and proud of. It's a unique thing. Here is an actress that really inspires the writers. She sets the tone for the whole thing, and she gets it all going.
Do you have a lot of story input as you guys build towards that season ending arc?
Jake Kasdan: You know, I am in the conversations with them. I am not writing the show. But I am around, helping them produce the first couple of episodes.
It almost seems as though Jess is going to hook up with the Nick Miller character. But you keep turning that convention on its head. Are you going to keep Zooey from hooking up with anyone in the house for a while?
Jake Kasdan: People are going to have to keep watching to find out what happens with those two. They have great chemistry, and we love writing for them. They are both seeing other people in the upcoming episodes.
Three's Company was on the air for almost ten years. Jack never got with any of the girls.
Jake Kasdan: (Laughs) Exactly. There is a long, great tradition of people not hooking up on television.