When New Girl premiered on Fox in 2011, no one could have predicted the influence one ballet flat-wearing girl with perfect bangs would have on our lives. And if you're anything like us, you have dreams of someday living out your own New Girl scenario (anyone looking for roommates?). The show follows quirky schoolteacher Jessica "Jess" Day (Zooey Deschanel) who moves into an apartment with three men. While Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Winston (Lamorne Morris) are reluctant at first, they soon give in to Jess' shenanigans.
New Girl became an instant hit, winning the Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series in 2011 and even attracting several celebrities, with notable cameos by musicians Prince and Taylor Swift. Across seven seasons, we get to watch these roommates find their way in life, from career changes to wedding vows. But just because they start adulting doesn't mean they stop having fun (did someone say True American?).
Thanks to streaming, the sitcom continued to grow its devoted fan base even after ending in 2018. Meanwhile, the actors have taken on many more projects. Read on to find out what the New Girl cast has been up to since moving out of that enviable loft.
Zooey Deschanel (Jessica Day)
Who's that girl? It's Zooey Deschanel, a.k.a. Jessica Day. Before her time as Apartment 4D's "adorkable" roommate, the actress stacked up an impressive filmography. She played the love interest of comedy legends Will Ferrell in Elf (2003), Jim Carrey in Yes Man (2008) and starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in the apocalyptic thriller The Happening (2008). The following year, Deschanel's character in 500 Days of Summer (2009) broke our hearts right along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's.
Deschanel doesn't just act, she sings, too. When she wasn't bursting into song as Jess, she was releasing her own music. In 2008, she teamed up with musician M. Ward to release their debut album, Volume One, under the name She & Him. Since then, the duo has released six more LPs. They also wrote music for the 2011 animated movie Winnie The Pooh, and their song "So Long" was nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the Grammys. And don't forget about the iconic New Girl theme that she wrote and performed for the series.
"It was written into the DNA of the show that Jess was the star of her own show in her head, that she'd say, 'Who's that girl? It's Jess!'" Deschanel told EW in 2022. "And [series creator] Liz Meriwether, that was in her script. When I was cast, I was like, 'Well, I want to write the theme song.' And I also just wanted to get the feel of this character in it."
Deschanel clearly understood her character well, given that she earned three Golden Globe nods and an Emmy nomination for the role. While playing Jess, she also flexed her voice acting skills as Bergen scullery maid Bridget in the animated musical Trolls (2016). If you haven't listened to her stunning rendition of Lionel Richie's "Hello" from the movie, we suggest you get on that.
New Girl may have ended, but Deschanel is still gracing our screens. In 2020, she appeared in Katy Perry's music video for "Not The End of the World," where a ship of aliens confuse the actress for the pop star. She then cohosted The Celebrity Dating Game with singer Michael Bolton, helping famous faces find their match. Most recently, Deschanel joined the season 3 cast of AppleTV+'s drama Physical as TV star Kelly Kilmartin.
And if you can't get enough New Girl content, check out the show's rewatch podcast, Welcome to Our Show, which she launched with costars Hannah Simone and Lamorne Morris in 2022. You can also keep up with the actress' hijinks on her TikTok account.
In August 2023, Deschanel announced her engagement to Property Brothers star Johnathan Scott, whom she met on the set of Carpool Karaoke: The Series in 2019. She also has two children with her ex-husband, film producer Jacob Pechenik.
Jake Johnson (Nick Miller)
After leaving law school and becoming a bartender, Jake Johnson's character Nick felt unsure of his future. But when Jess came knocking on his door, he got a new sense of direction. Yes, our favorite moonwalking friend finally wrote his zombie detective book, and yes, it was actually published. (Is anyone else wishing they could get their hands on The Pepperwood Chronicles?)
Just before the sitcom started, Johnson played Ashton Kutcher's friend in the rom-com No Strings Attached (2011), which was written by New Girl creator Liz Meriwether. He continued to act in films during his tenure as Nick, starring in Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) alongside Aubrey Plaza as investigative journalists and appearing as control room employee Lowery Cruthers in 2015's Jurassic World.
Johnson and Deschanel's chemistry may have been off the charts throughout the show, but he also had a beautiful bromance with Max Greenfield's character, Schmidt.
"For me as Jake, I feel like Zooey Deschanel was my big TV romance, but equally, I also feel like Max Greenfield was my other TV romantic partner, because Nick and Schmidt did not just feel like buddies to me," Johnson told EW following the series finale in 2018. "It felt like, we are in a romance. I did more scenes sitting next to Max talking about how I felt about him than I did with Jess."
Following New Girl, Johnson spun webs in the 2018 animated sensation Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He later reprised his role as an older version of the titular superhero from another dimension in the 2023 sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. He also starred in the comedy Tag (2018), which is based on a true story about a group of men who have been playing the same game of chase since childhood.
Lucky for us, Johnson continued to act in TV and is currently playing porn publisher Doug Renetti in the excellent series Minx, which found a new home on Starz after being canceled by HBO Max. He'll soon make his directorial debut in the 2023 comedy thriller Self Reliance, which sees him star alongside Anna Kendrick and Andy Samberg.
Johnson married artist Erin Payne in 2006. He later revealed on The Kelly Clarkson Show that they met while she was bartending. Their twin daughters, Elizabeth and Olivia, were born in 2014.
Max Greenfield (Schmidt)
When Schmidt wasn't busy filling up the "Douchebag Jar," he was trying to catch Cece's eye. Max Greenfield's character may have been uptight, but let's be real — he was the glue keeping the whole apartment together. (Just be sure to never touch his conditioner.)
Greenfield started his acting career with small parts on TV before starring as Sheriff's Deputy Leo D'Amato in the mystery series Veronica Mars (2004–2007). He later reprised his role in the 2014 Veronica Mars movie and a revival season that premiered on Hulu in 2019. The actor also appeared as Nick Pepper on Ugly Betty, which aired on ABC from 2006–2010.
During his time on New Girl, we watched Schmidt's womanizer facade fade as he gets to know Hannah Simone's Cece. "I think he was supposed to be a real playboy and ladies' man, and then he fell in love and it ruined everything," Greenfield told EW in 2017. "It takes away a very fun aspect of playing the character."
Between racking up Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for playing Schmidt, Greenfield took on various film roles, including a shady mortgage broker in The Big Short (2015) and David in the memoir turned film The Glass Castle (2017). You might also recognize his voice in Ice Age: Collision Course (2016), where he plays dino-bird Roger.
Right as New Girl ended, Greenfield stepped up to lead the CBS series The Neighborhood as Dave Johnson, a white Midwesterner who moves to California and adjusts to living in a mostly Black community. He soon took on a much darker role in the crime thriller Promising Young Woman (2020).
Beyond the screen, Greenfield has made strides as a children's author. He released I Don't Want to Read This Book in 2021, followed by This Book Is Not a Present (2022) and I Don't Want to Read This Book Aloud (2023).
Greenfield married casting director Tess Sanchez in 2008. Their children include daughter Lilly, who likes to roast dad on Instagram, and son Ozzie. Like the rest of us, the family has also been jamming out to Taylor Swift (have you seen his friendship bracelets?).
Lamorne Morris (Winston Bishop)
In New Girl, Winston Bishop returns to Los Angeles after playing basketball in Latvia. Not only does he have to adjust to his new roommate Jess, but he also has some career soul searching to do. Along the way, he meets the love of his life — a cat named Ferguson (may he rest in peace) — and decides to become a cop. As the show goes on, Lamorne Morris' character gets goofier and goofier, though he never truly perfects his formula for practical jokes.
"One of my favorite pranks was something that was so small, and it just made me laugh because it was so stupid," Morris told EW in 2018. "There was so much momentum at Cece's wedding with, 'What is Winston going to do?' And then he puts a feather in Cece's mom's shoe. And when I read that [in the script], I just died laughing, because we really blew this whole thing up just for that?"
Though he previously enjoyed a few small roles in TV and film, New Girl was the actor's big break. While playing Winston, Morris starred in comedy movies like Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016) and Game Night (2018). He later appeared in the National Geographic docudrama miniseries Valley of the Boom (2019) about the rise of tech during the 1990s.
Morris soon took on a new role as Black cartoonist Keef Knight in the 2020 Hulu comedy series Woke, which was canceled after its second season in 2022. He also starred alongside Vin Diesel in the sci-fi action film Bloodshot (2020).
Fans can look forward to seeing Morris in the upcoming fifth season of the FX anthology series Fargo, where he'll play North Dakota Deputy Witt Farr. Taking place in 2019, the new story follows a housewife (Ted Lasso's Juno Temple) whose mysterious past unravels when she stirs up trouble with local authorities. You can also catch Morris cohosting the New Girl rewatch podcast with Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone.
Hannah Simone (Cece Parekh)
Jess' best friend Cece Parekh stole Schmidt's heart the moment he laid eyes on her. Not only was Hannah Simone's character a model, she also went on to start her own modeling agency, Cece's Boys.
Most of Simone's pre-New Girl career was spent as a Canadian TV host, notably interviewing bands and artists for MuchMusic. During her time as Cece, the actress appeared in films like the 2013 Oldboy remake, Folk Hero and Funny Guy (2016), and Killing Gunther (2017). You can even catch her in a music video alongside Danny Trejo for Train's 2014 hit song "Angel in Blue Jeans."
Currently, Simone plays newspaper style editor Sam in the ABC sitcom Not Dead Yet. And, of course, you can also hear her share behind-the-scenes stories from the set of New Girl on the rewatch podcast.
"New Girl fans have a lot of questions about everything from the actual rules of True American to ping pong etiquette with Prince," Simone told EW in the exclusive 2022 podcast announcement. "Zooey, Lamorne, and I have missed each other so much, and I'm so excited that we've created a show where we can finally answer those questions and share so many untold crazy New Girl stories that happened while we made the show!"
Simone married Canadian musician and designer Jesse Giddings in 2016, and they had a son the following year.
Damon Wayans Jr. (Coach)
Damon Wayans Jr. made quite the impression as the loft's competitive roommate in the show's pilot. However, he left the cast due to his commitment to another sitcom, ABC's Happy Endings (2011–2013). Luckily, the roommates were reunited when Wayans Jr. returned for New Girl's third and fourth seasons, plus a few more episodes later on.
"I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to come back to New Girl in season 3 to reprise the role of Coach," Wayans said in a statement in 2015. "Working with this incredibly talented and funny cast and crew has been one of the best experiences of my career."
Before he left Apartment 4D, the actor worked with other members of the famous Wayans family on several projects, including the movies Blankman (1994) and Dance Flick (2009). He also appeared in the action comedy The Other Guys (2010), starred alongside New Girl costar Jake Johnson in Let's Be Cops (2014), and voiced Wasabi in the animated Disney movie Big Hero 6 (2014).
After making his second exit from New Girl, Wayans Jr. starred in the sitcom Happy Together (2018–2019) and voiced Arnold Evans in several episodes of Bob's Burgers. Fans can look forward to seeing him team up with his father, Damon Wayans of In Living Color and SNL fame, for an upcoming comedy series project at CBS.
Wayans Jr. married Samara Saraiva in 2016. He has children with his wife and his ex-girlfriend, Aja Metoyer.
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