Speaking of gay dads, in Fox’s short-lived animated series Allen Gregory you voiced Joel Zadak, a cool jock who bullies the titular nerd with two fathers. Were you ever on either end of bullying?
No, neither. But I would like to tell kids who are being bullied today that I know they’ll be stronger because of it, so don’t give up, even though I know it’s hard. And to the bullies, I just want to say, Fuck you. I get it, you suck, but stop making other people hate life as much as you hate yourself. I’m older, so I realize that the only reason you’re making fun of others is that you’re insecure. Guess what? You are right to be insecure. You're terrible. So stop it and leave other kids alone.
You played the principal in 21 Jump Street and had great lines like “I’m one more black gay kid getting punched in the face away from a nervous breakdown.” That movie might be the most homoerotic straight buddy comedy ever, right?
Oh, yeah. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are fun dudes, so I just know that they were doing absolutely anything in the moment for a laugh on that movie.
Are you aware of its recent gay porn parody, 21 Hump Street?
That’s incredible. I was not aware of it, but I’m sure you’re very aware of it.
Should I send you my copy?
You also played Jesus in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and shared a memorable scene with Neil Patrick Harris. What was NPH like?
Well, we were both surrounded by a bunch of bare breasts, so meeting NPH in that situation was a little strange. But even in that weirdo environment, he couldn’t have been nicer, cooler, or more professional. I saw very quickly what makes him so special. I respect him a lot.
Did you base your portrayal of Jesus on anyone in particular?
Uh, yeah. I based him on Jesus.
You have a few movies coming out next year. Is there one in particular that the gay audience should look out for?
In Drinking Buddies, which stars Anna Kendrick and Olivia Wilde, I have the biggest beard on my face that I’ve ever had. So you will get to see a cub with a bear’s beard.
Are there any gay storylines coming up on New Girl?
June Diane Raphael will be back as Dr. Sadie, Jess’s lesbian gynecologist friend, and there’s a big storyline with her that involves a lesbian couple, fertility, and getting older. Kay Cannon, who wrote Pitch Perfect, wrote the episode. But Liz Meriwether is so open and doesn’t see a divide between the straight and gay communities, so she’s all about gay characters just naturally being a part of the landscape of our show. And if we continue to move forward with the show, I can guarantee there will be a lot more gay characters.
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?