Jake Johnson: New Girl’s New Guy

After a string of gay-inclusive projects, New Girl star Jake Johnson talks about kissing costar Max Greenfield, bonding with his gay college roommate, and being too fat for Fox.



Johnson and Max Greenfield in New Girl


You recently told Essential Homme that you considered Nick “a guy’s guy” and never wanted him costumed in “anything that could be considered metrosexual.” Do you have any metrosexual traits, or are you just as butch as your character?
I have my metrosexual moments. I recently tried to pull off a low-cut V-neck to show off my Tommy Selleck chest hair. Zooey was like, “That’s awful.” Then Max said, “Yeah, V-necks are dead.” I was like, “What? When did V-necks die?” Since New Girl started I also work out a lot more, and I’m a way healthier eater. I definitely don’t drink as much beer as I used to. Now I’ll drink vodka on ice.

I don’t consider you overweight, but your character is the butt of a lot of chubby jokes on the show.
Yeah, after the episode where I had to dance naked to Jamaican music, every fourth line was about Nick having bad metabolism or eating too many cookies. What’s funny is that the network actually asked me to lose 15 pounds, and I did. I basically got told I was too fat for Fox. I was so excited when I booked the pilot, so my wife and I went out to get Mexican food and celebrate. In the car, I was already thinking about what I was going to order. I was going to get chips and guacamole, a blended margarita, a quesadilla for the table, and a chicken burrito for me. I knew she was going to get tacos, so I figured we’d do a little mix and match on that. Then I got a call from my manager, who told me I needed to lose 15 pounds before we started shooting. So when I got to the restaurant I had chicken salad with no dressing.

New Girl is really the first time you’ve been seen as a love interest or romantic lead. Does that put pressure on you to stay in shape?
Yeah, absolutely. No Strings Attached was actually the first movie where I had a girlfriend, but I was way fatter then. I thought I looked great, but people still write me on Twitter and say, “Hey, you were looking rough in No Strings Attached, bro.” So if I gain weight now, it would be really noticeable and really embarrassing.

There must be perks to being slimmer.
I didn’t get fired for being fat, which is a pretty damn big perk. [Laughs] I guess it’s nice to not have your gut hang over your pants when you reach for something in a high cabinet. A guy who’s a little fatter than he should be is constantly pulling his shirt down, which isn’t a good look. But I’m still never going to be confused as an actor-model. Even if I wanted it, no one will ever say, “Let’s get Jake Johnson for this photo spread!” I’ll never be shirtless and riding bareback on a horse to sell cologne.

Describe your celebrity fragrance anyway.
It would smell like day-old beer, stale cigarettes, and weird late-night food, but it wouldn’t be cologne; it would be a perfume for women who want to smell like they just had a terrible one-night stand. It would be called… Do You Remember?