'New Girl's Max Greenfield On Kissing Sally Field & Why We Need Diversity In Storytelling
He's your favorite douchebag on FOX's New Girl, but Schmidt's narcissistic tendencies and OCD behavior don't translate to the actor himself. Max Greenfield takes on the opposite of his ego-stroking New Girl character in Hello, My Name Is Doris , opposite Sally Field. The Michael Showalter directed-story unfolds as Doris (Field) attempts to regain her independence after her mother dies. Dragged to a self-help conference and inspired by its overly optimistic guru (played to hilarious perfection by Peter Gallagher), Doris decides to pursue what she really wants: her much younger boss (Greenfield). Connecting with his unfamiliar hipster ways, she attempts to seduce the unsuspecting employee... with mixed results.
"The thing that I really related to is that Doris was in a position where she just really wanted to connect with somebody, and so is John's character," Greenfield says of the narrative. "He finds a connection with Doris. That is what anyone looks for, just being able to connect with another human being and find a level of friendship."
But when working alongside Sally Field, Greenfield had hesitations about their onscreen chemistry. "In the beginning, we both just didn't want the process to be a pain in the ass," Greenfield says. "When we sat down right before the movie and did a couple readings, we realized everything fit and felt very easy. The second thing we shot was the scene in the break room and I'm like shirtless and we're making out, it was a good icebreaker," he says.
So is Sally Field a good kisser? "Great kisser," Greenfield says without hesitation. "We had a fun little crush on eachother for the next month. We just had fun with it."
It's a sweet, unsuspecting film. Premiering at SXSW film and music festival, it's a humble, refreshing movie for a festival circuit usually overwrought with dramas. But looking at the film's gender dynamics — a 60something woman pursuing a 20 or 30something man — how would the film play out if these gender roles were reversed?
"That's a great question. Wow. That is an excellent question," Greenfield says, toying with the idea. "Here's what I'll say. I think that because of the people who were cast in the movie and because of the tone that Michael set, it was always supposed to be people who were at heart."
And Michael Showalter, who Greenfield worked with on They Came Together, was the sole reason he signed on for the project. "There are a couple people that you work with and if they call you with anything, you just say yes," he says. "You don't read anything, you just say yes. They offered me this before I had read anything. I was in, let's do it."
Getting to work opposite onscreen legend Sally Field was just a bonus. When I asked Greenfield what his favorite Sally Field film is, he says: "Besides everything?" But like most of us, he's a huge fan of the 1993 Robin Williams comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. "Just love, love, love it," he says. "You so fall in love with Robin in that movie, it would be easy for you to dislike Sally. But you so feel for her, and she has the harder job to do. You understand why they're breaking up, why they need to be divorced, why it's better ultimately for everybody. And you understand that through her as opposed to him. The best."
But it's been over 20 years since Field starred as the mother of three in Doubtfire, and it's a rare day in Hollywood when a 60something woman gets to star as the protagonist in a film that doesn't poke fun at her age. "I think we should always be striving for diversity in storytelling, no matter what. I think we're all just looking for good stories, new stories, different stories," Greenfield says. "I wish there was more diversity, and I wish there was more of a willingness for the people who greenlight these things. I'm sure there are people who want to tell all sorts of stories, whether it be with a 60-something protagonist or whatever it is, but they can't get it made. So it's really up to the people who are financing these projects to look for different films, with all sorts of people as the leads."