EXCLUSIVE: Jake Johnson Reveals How Zooey Deschanel's Pregnancy Led to His 'New Girl' Directorial Debut!
By Leanne Aguilera
Jake Johnson is stepping behind the camera on tonight's all-new episode of New Girl!
Ahead of his directorial debut, we called up everyone's favorite flannel-loving bartender to get the exclusive scoop on the challenges and rewards that come with wearing multiple hats on the hit Fox comedy.
"I thought it would be a really fun opportunity," he said to ET. "I'm just really lucky."
The actor revealed that his eagerness to take on a new role was due, in large part, to Zooey Deschanel's brief hiatus from the series while she was on maternity leave.
"In Zooey's absence we were losing something so I tried to add something," Johnson explained. "When you lose a member of the cast, the set feels a little differently, so I thought if I was directing maybe it could bring a little bit of normalcy."
Tonight's episode, which features comedian Bill Burr and Playing House star Lennon Parham, once again delves into the "central romance" of New Girl: Nick and Schmidt's relationship. "Despite the wedding this season, it's about Schmidt's true love for Nick and Nick trying to fight it, but he's not as strong as Schmidt," Johnson said with a laugh.
But the true scene-stealer is most definitely Winston as he attempts to help Cece find the perfect wedding dress -- and only ET has the exclusive sneak peek of the laugh-out-loud moment!
"Lamorne Morris knows how to be funny in his way. He doesn't need me telling him how to do with, Johnson said of directing his fellow co-star in the first-look scene above. "Lamorne is so funny and he has been just killing it over the last couple of years, so it was really fun to have an episode where he is just able to run wild."
When it comes to Johnson's directing style, the Let's Be Cops star admitted that he wasn't trying to re-invent the wheel.
"I didn’t come in and say, 'I really hope this episode gets into Sundance!'" he said. "This is an episode of New Girl that I wanted to look really simple, yet be really funny and I wanted the actors to grow."
"I really didn't spend much time telling the actors about their characters because they know way more than me," Johnson continued. "My role as a director was just to set up the camera in a way that allowed these funny people to be funny for as much as possible and to really just stay out of their way."
Now that Johnson has officially directed an episode of New Girl, would he be open to writing one? "Maybe, but probably not," he confessed. "We've got some really great writers and they work their asses off, so I don’t think I want to take a script away from one of them, but you never know I might get greedy and will want to try it later."