October 02, 2012 2:52pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'New Girl': Jake Johnson Baits Nick and Jess Fans, Talks Fluffers and 'Old Man Issues'
A fluffer, for those not already in the know, is an individual employed by the adult entertainment industry who's tasked with keeping the actors -- for lack of a better term -- camera-ready.
It's also the title of Tuesday's New Girl, which finds Nick (Jake Johnson) coming to terms with the fact that he's putting in all of the work with Jess (Zooey Deschanel) to very little payout.
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"This is a big Nick and Jess episode," Johnson tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's the first time that Nick realizes that maybe he's doing things for Jess that he wouldn't do for his other friends. Winston [Lamorne Morris] points out that Nick has turned into her emotional fluffer."
The latest man reaping the benefits of Nick's doting on Jess is Sam (returning guest David Walton), and while this new courtship continues from last week's premiere, Johnson says there is also ample development with the series' latent "will they/won't they?" dynamic.
"The writers have a very firm understanding of that relationship," he says. "If the characters are being true to themselves, they're not ready to be together. They obviously have an attraction, though, and that's what the episode is about, slowing starting to admit that they're denying it."
Johnson, who is shooting episode six of the new season, also has news on his character's upcoming arc with Olivia Munn (as Angie), talking This Is Spinal Tap with guest Rob Reiner and how the premiere's introduction of a time-traveling Nick from the future (read: delusional hobo) is not the craziest old-man storyline he's gotten this season.
The Hollywood Reporter: What have you been told about Nick's new girlfriend, Angie?
Jake Johnson: I know very little, but I heard rumblings of things. There's apparently some very embarrassing things that happen for Nick ... sexually. I think Liz Meriwether will kill me if I say anything more.
THR: Have you worked with Olivia before?
Johnson: No, but when we were hosting the Do Something Awards, I had to introduce her. We met for the first time backstage. Afterward, Max Greenfield and I were saying how cool would it be to have someone like her come on and do the show. Then, randomly, a week later they told us she'd been cast. We must be weird fortune tellers or mind-control gypsies.
THR: What are you guys filming right now?
Johnson: Thanksgiving. Yesterday we were shooting with Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis. There was one point in between a set up where Greenfield, Zooey and I were sitting on a couch, Rob Reiner was sitting across from us, and we were asking questions about Spinal Tap. It was like something you'd hope for at Q&A at a big theater or something, but we got it with just three people. It was one of those amazing life moments.
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THR: Do you think you've seen the last of "Old Nick" (Raymond Barry)?
Johnson: I loved the Nick and Old Nick story, and I really hope that crazy old man gets to keep coming back and hang out in the bar. I love the part of Nick's brain that's just crazy town. I really think he'll be a great man, but I love the fact that he's not quite there yet.
THR: Any other crazy old man stuff?
Johnson: We just shot something where Nick goes crazy in a park and meets an old Thai man. I was having a hard time keeping it together -- not because the jokes were that funny but because the situation was just bananas. Even the writers said, "This is us at our weirdest." Nick has some father issues, some old-man issues, and this man starts to help him get over those.