Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone are reliving their time on “New Girl” alongside Zooey Deschanel as hosts of the iHeartRadio podcast “Welcome to Our Show”. The stars catch up with ET Canada, touching on everything from on-set gags and take-home props, to the Cece-Winston friendship and the episode Morris wrote amid police violence against Black citizens in the U.S.
There are endless gags to pick and choose from on “New Girl”. One Morris remembers most clearly is one that was never outright acknowledged in the show. Morris reveals how Jake Johnson would hilariously sabotage him regularly during shoots.
“It’s kind of an internal gag, but it happens,” Morris says. “You can see it on camera from time to time. I’m always smiling when my character is getting ridiculous. Like I’m saying something, but there’s like a slight grin on my face.
“The reason being is because I’m trying not to laugh because I know I’m about to go ridiculous in this moment, and I know I got Dick Johnson sitting across from me and he doesn’t let me off the hook. Jake doesn’t let me do the bit without him playing so deep into the bit.”
Morris would often dread going ridiculous.
“I’m thinking I can just do the bit and move on and keep going. Jake is like, ‘No, we’re going to play this out. It’s like, ‘Tell me more about this man,’ and he’ll make me continue at this level of ridiculousness that I can’t help but start to break. I’m starting to crack,” Morris says. “I used to get anxiety about it. I was like, ‘I’m going to break. I don’t want to break it.’ I was like, ‘OK, don’t do it, bro. Don’t mess this scene out because you can’t handle the bit. You’re starting the bit. Stick with it.’
“Every episode, I knew exactly where it was going to come. I would plan for that day on set and I’m like, ‘I would go ridiculous and please, Jake, just don’t f**k with me in this scene. Don’t do it.’ And he’ll do it. I still think about it to this day. I laugh watching the show. Like, I watch the show for the re-watch and I’m dying laughing because and I’m getting anxiety going, ‘Damn it, Jake!'”
One of the most beloved recurring gags from “New Girl” is the “babe” bit between Cece and Winston. It’s one that Simone looks back on fondly.
“Winston and Cece have this thing where they say ‘babe’ back and forth ad nauseam to each other,” Simone says. “That was something that was naturally improvised because nobody wanted to be the last one to say it in the bit. I don’t know who directed the first time we did it that bit, but they were like, ‘OK, that’s enough, ‘babes. OK, get into the dialogue now.’
“That was a really fun one. It’s fun that the the fans really like that bit too, and that it made the show. You do so many weird things that you kind of really dig and make each other laugh, and they never make the show. But that one did.”
There are plenty of iconic romances on “New Girl”, but one fan favourite relationship is the platonic friendship between Cece and Winston. It’s an on-screen friendship that likely evolved from Morris and Simone’s real-life friendship.
“I think a lot of it evolved because the writers did a great job of kind of watching us and seeing how we were in between takes,” Morris says. “Hannah and I would hang out outside of the set. We would all kick it from time to time, but Hannah and I with groups of friends, we would go out, see each other at events and even though we spent 16 hours a day with each other on set.
“She’s got a great family. Everything about her life is awesome. So we just talk about it. We just talk about her travel experiences, this and that. I’m so fascinated by her life experiences that that’s we’re always just shooting the s**t about those types of things the writers catch that.”
Morris gave full credit to the “New Girl” writers for paying attention to detail.
“Some of the greatest writers were on this show,” Morris says. “They do a great job of not just putting pen to paper, but also analyzing and studying and doing homework on who we are as people… When you’re writing, you have so many episodes to write, you want to pair people off and see who works well together.
“We all work well together, but there’s something about those Winston and Cece mess arounds that fans really, really liked.”
Simone also opens up about her friendship with Morris.
“I can only speak for my experience with Lamorne. We came into this show together. It was our first big acting job and they put us in a trailer together and we stayed in that trailer for the entire run of the series. We shared a trailer, so we were kind of roommates in real life,” Simone says. “When you’re on set for that many hours a day. We have a brother-sister dynamic.
“We poke fun at each other. We can give it as good as we get, which I think the writers on the show could definitely pick up on. It’s kind of nice now because that was only shown Cece-Winston thing on ‘New Girl’, but with the podcast, you get to see how that dynamic plays out in real life, which is kind of fun.”
Morris and Simone starred on all seven seasons of “New Girl”. To some actors that is a lifetime; however, Morris only just scratched the surface of who Winston could be.
“It was weird to close the door on Winston because I felt like Winston was just getting rolling,” Morris says. “Closing the door on Winston was something that I felt was time, but I thought I was a little bit early. What you find is that the moment you wrap, you get offered movies and things and you find yourself being Winston day one on set.
“Then you’re like, ‘Hold on, this is a different project. I can’t do these bits anymore in this medium.’ I tell you, I didn’t struggle with it, but it was one of those things where… that was my first one of the series. Prior to that you do a movie or you do a one off here or a commercial or you play a character and you’re done. This is seven years. So you trying to figure out who you are and get back into that process of character development because you’re so used to that. And then you find it and you go on and you do other things.”
In fact, Morris is all in on a reunion season or a Winston spin-off.
“Doing the podcast has definitely made me want to do a reunion season because I just miss the character so much. It’s such a fun, silly, weird character to play. Liz Meriwether won’t return any of my phone calls, but I’m trying to get her to create a Winston spinoff,” Morris teases. “I mean, she’s busy. I get it. But hopefully we’ll get a Winston spinoff thing again.”
Simone says Cece and herself are deeply intertwined.
“It just kind of becomes a part of you,” Simone says. “Like, I’m sure it’s very different of you’re playing a character on ‘Game of Thrones’. Maybe you would like some separation. That’s a little more intense. But I started that show when I was in my 20s, and your friends are your chosen family and you’re trying to figure life out. So it wasn’t a huge departure.
“Those friends that we had in the show with Nick and Jess and Cece and Winston and Schmidt, those are my friends in real life too. Zoe and Jake and Lamorne and Max. So it’s not so much of like shedding it and then having a fresh start and moving forward. It’s just helped you become who you are professionally and personally. And you take those lessons and you kind of go forward with them.”
Morris’ character works as a police officer. Morris co-wrote an episode of “New Girl” in response to the reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement sparked by multiple cases of egregious police violence against Black Americans. Morris opens up on what inspired the creative end of his writing process for the episode.
“It’s happened to me before and you forget just because I left the hood, it don’t mean the people in the hood ain’t still going through the same old B.S. that we’ve been going through,” Morris says. “It gets put in perspective for you that folks are still going through this stuff like this is. This is crazy, and I’m not exempt from it. I’m not exempt from it at all.”
Morris wanted to explore the seriousness of the issue from a lens “New Girl” fans would be familiar with.
“I could’ve went further with the episode for sure,” Morris says. “I think the messaging was there that if you if you want to be a police officer, you got to walk proudly in what it is you do and and never forget those principles of upholding the law. Obviously, a lot of folks go against that and the citizens are pissed off about that.
“A lot of folks get abused and a lot of folks take the brunt of that negative side. I don’t only like the term bad apples. It’s like a system of crazy s**t that goes on. But that ain’t everybody. And I wanted to address that part as well on the show. So I think the point got across. At the end of the day, it’s still ‘New Girl’. I was like, ‘How far can we go? Alright, let’s keep it lighthearted still, so we can let the fans know we’re thinking about this. You know what I mean? And know we don’t take it lightly.”
The “New Girl” duo also dish on what props they kept from the series.
“I have the couch,” Simone reveals. “As the series wrapped, I bought a house. I’d always lived in an apartment and I didn’t realize how hard it is to furnish a house. So they said, you can take what you need from set. So it was great because the show is over. So there was a bunch of stuff that I got to buy from set, and that was one of the things because I needed a couch. So I have the couch.”
Morris snagged a few memorable pieces as well.
“She has the couch, which is incredible. Fun fact, I dislocated my thumb on that couch,” Morris says. “I have the basketball hoop from the loft and I have Ferguson’s tombstone. That’s morbid, it’s so dark. It’s my garage. I was going to put it in my backyard, so people came over they thought that I really had a cat buried back there. I should still do it just to freak out the gardener.
“I definitely have stolen clothing. I think I’m still wearing socks from ‘New Girl’.”
Morris shares details on “Welcome to Our Show” and how he hopes to improve upon the format as the hosts find their legs.
“The most pleasantly surprising part of it was rewatching the episodes and genuinely laughing,” Morris says. “You know, the show still checks out. It ages very well. We watch we watch the episode to take notes and think about memories from that week’s filming. There are moments where I’ll watch the episode and realize I didn’t take a single note because I’m watching it as a fan.
“The goal is to dissect episodes and talk about certain things. But there are even times when we’re recording the podcast that we forget to do that. We genuinely miss each other and we’re just kind of hanging out and talking. So for fans out there, we will get into the dissection of episodes.”
Winston has a reputation for being a devious prankster, belovedly dubbed “Prank Sinatra.”. Morris is quite the prankster himself.
“I have security cameras all over the house,” Morris says. “The common areas in my house, outside of my house. There are moments where if I’m out of town and I know my brother is at home or my writing partner, Kyle, is here or whoever is in the house. If I’m just bored on set, sitting in my trailer or something,I’ll go and check the security camera for like the kitchen or something.
“If my brother is in there cooking, I’ll just harass him over the speakers. I’ll turn the lights off remotely. You know what I used to do? You can mirror your phone to whatever TV that has Apple TV in the house. So what I like to do sometimes when there’s a lot of people watching the football game or something, I like to accidentally screenshot like myself in compromising positions… Maybe dropping a deuce and maybe an act like, I don’t know… Everyone’s watching Super Bowl and there you have it. There’s me in all my glory.”