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'New Girl': Josh Gad on His Unsuccessful Romancing of Jess in the Season 2 Premiere

The man behind the "Bearclaw" and star of midseason's "1600 Penn" tells THR about his guest gig, his "Book of Mormon" career boost, the "Modern Family" role that might have been and avoiding the fall launch "bloodbath."

New Girl Josh Gad Guest Star - H 2012
Jennifer Clasen/FOX

The second part of New Girl's sophomore season premiere, airing a half hour after the first, follows a series of romantic miscommunications for Jess (Zooey Deschanel) -- and no one suffers more from the confusion than guest star Josh Gad.

An overzealous, slightly askew beer delivery guy, Bearclaw (Gad) ends up going on a date with Jess, despite her efforts to get to know his significantly more normal coworker.

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Gad didn't have to go far to join the show. He's currently shooting NBC's midseason White House comedy, 1600 Penn, a few studios over from New Girl on the 20th Century Fox lot.

"I got an email from Zooey Deschanel, as one tends to, asking if I wanted to film an episode" Gad recently told The Hollywood Reporter, noting that he'd long been interested in making an appearance on his friend's show.

"They're insane," he says, "and they really let you play, which is always really nice when you're on someone else's show."

Insane is also a good way to describe Bearclaw, who, in between a string of hilarious non sequiturs, reveals the disturbing origins of his nickname to a perturbed Jess.

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Brief as the cameo might be, it's just another opportunity Gad credits to playing Arnold Cunningham in the original Broadway production of The Book of Mormon.

"My take on it was always that it would be a successful show with a very narrow demographic," he says, "I never imagined that that 80-year-olds would leave the theater singing 'f---' and 'ass' -- let alone open so many doors for me."

He is, of course, joined by Mormon co-star Andrew Rannells, who stars in another new comedy this season, NBC's The New Normal.

"The two of us count our blessings every day and pinch ourselves for being part of something so iconic," says Gad, who recently attended the Los Angeles premiere of Mormon.

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"I turned down so many things over the course of four years to be involved in the show," he adds, noting one in particular. "I was being flirted with for Modern Family, which my wife still hasn't let me live down, but it's one of those things where that show is so brilliant because the casting couldn't be any more perfect. It wouldn't have been right for me, and I wouldn't have been right for it." (Gad, who has since guested on the show, politely declined to say which part he was in talks for.)

1600 Penn, the First Family sitcom starring Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman and Gad, will be the 31-year-old's first gig as a network series regular since 2008 one-off Back to You. And while the politically-charged climate of the current presidential race might seem like an opportune time launch the show, Gad seems content to wait for 2013.

"I'm kind of relieved we don't have to be part of that bloodbath," Gad tells THR. "We're using the extra time to do the best version of the show we want to do. We're on episode three right now, a we're freaking out about how good the writing is and how everyone is."