Truth be told, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris don't exactly come across as guys who'd frequent a fancy barbershop — the sort of post-ironic place where straight-razor shaves are administered by hipsters at $40 a pop. But when they gather at L.A.'s Baxter Finley early on a Saturday morning, the New Girl costars manage to quickly break the ice with a rapid-fire stream of inside jokes — and some sloppily applied shaving cream — demonstrating a camaraderie and conversational shorthand that makes it tough to believe they've been working together for only a single season on Fox's freshman hit. Here's what the trio have to say about getting groomed for sitcom stardom.
TV Guide Magazine: New Girl was the first real big break for all of you. Had you ever considered throwing in the towel?
Morris: Yeah. A couple of years ago I wanted to go back to Chicago. The problem was, I didn't have enough money to fly home. I was too small to fail. Eviction notice on the door, car got repo'd... It was bad.
Johnson: My first acting gig was a commercial that I got paid, like, $10,000 to do. They put me in this wig and a big mustache and a red sweater. It was so easy and the money was so good that no matter how much I failed after that, I wasn't going to quit. Also, I don't have another skill set. I'm lazy.
Greenfield: My wife and I had a baby a couple of years ago. I'd had a really rough pilot season, and I can remember calling a buddy of mine, who was show-running Hot in Cleveland, trying to be a writer's assistant, just get the closest thing to a real job. A month later I booked this.
TV Guide Magazine: When the show took off, how glad were you that you hung in there?
Greenfield: One of the reasons the show works is because there's a real sense of gratitude. It's not some faux humbleness. Everyone involved has been kicked in the face enough that we're still terrified this could go away.
TV Guide Magazine: Max, why do fans love Schmidt so much?
Greenfield: He takes his shirt off in every episode — it helps. A group of Asian men and women who'd seen the pilot before we'd even started airing came up to me, like, "Shirt-off guy, shirt-off guy."
TV Guide Magazine: Jake, where do you think Nick's world-weariness comes from?
Johnson: He had a dark childhood. I imagine he was one of the only white kids in a black neighborhood, [and] he's been getting teased his whole life. Schmidt was Nick's first white friend, and because of him, Nick thought all white guys were d-----bags.
TV Guide Magazine: Lamorne, since Winston is a former pro baller, did he peak too early in life?
Morris: He'll find a new niche — something more important. But when you're playing basketball, you're like, "I'm a role model," especially coming from the neighborhood he came from. I'm kind of in a similar situation. When you grow up on the south side of Chicago, you can't help but want to be rich and famous.
TV Guide Magazine: As the only unmarried one of the group, Lamorne, do the others try to live vicariously through you?
Morris: Yeah, everyone's all boo'd up. The guys will be like, "So, yeah, man, are you totally gettin' after it? Who ya sleepin' with?" That's what Jake says.
Johnson: Shut up! I don't say that! I say, "Hey, man, you fall in love with anybody? Taking it slow and actually getting to know these people?"
TV Guide Magazine: How does Zooey Deschanel (Jess) fit into the mix with you three?
Johnson: She's not one of the guys — and I don't say that as an insult. There are certain girls who are literally like, "Dude, I love sports and chili dogs!" That's not Zooey's vibe. She's very female. She loves goofing around on set.
Greenfield: To Zooey's credit, when she came into this, she was like, "If I'm going to do a TV show, I'm going to do it right." She has exposed herself to such a degree [by doing so much to promote the show] that had it not worked, it would have been a real situation for her.
TV Guide Magazine: When you go from being relatively unknown to starring on a hit show, how quickly does the world become a friendlier place?
Morris: Fast. Really fast. I went from not being able to get in a room to save my life to agents handing me their cards. Girls think you're adorable. You're like, "Really?"
TV Guide Magazine: You guys have such a rapport. Do you hang out together off set?
Johnson: I see these guys more than anyone. The truth of the matter is, we all really like each other, and you'll see that in the chemistry. But in terms of hanging out? No way!
New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.