NEW YORK (AP) -- Season one of Fox's "New Girl" introduced TV fans to the "adorkable" Zooey Deschanel and the hilarity of Max Greenfield. Both earned Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for their work.
As season two wraps up Tuesday, their co-star Jake Johnson is emerging as another one to watch -- both on the series and in Hollywood.
On "New Girl," Johnson plays Nick Miller, one of Deschanel's three male roommates. He's a curmudgeonly, 30-something, broke bartender who gave up on his potential somewhere along the way. Secretly, though, he has a big heart and a desire to do more -- which is largely inspired by his crush on Deschanel's Jess.
No one could be happier about Nick's development than the 34-year-old Johnson.
"It felt like season one I was asked more to just support other people's stories a lot. I was very happy (in) season two that Nick kind of came out of his shell and was given great stories and the writers really found him," Johnson said in a recent interview.
The Nick-Jess dynamic has come to a head this season with some viewers asking if it was too soon to pair up the characters. Johnson said that as an actor, it felt like the right time.
"Getting them together where if (Nick's) trying and screwing up or if they break up and he's heartbroken, I understand that more," he said. "Trying this thing is more honest."
Johnson said he received some perspective on his character from one of the show's directors.
"He said, 'Season one Nick was all about being grumpy and grounded. ... Season two, you should feel everything because those who are the most cynical and the most grumpy, it's because they're the most sensitive.'"
Meanwhile, Johnson is expanding his horizons off-screen as well.
He has a film called "Drinking Buddies" with Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston coming out this summer. A movie called "The Pretty One" with Zoe Kazan premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
This summer, Johnson will head to Atlanta to shoot a buddy-cop movie alongside Damon Wayans Jr. and Nina Dobrev. (Wayans was in the pilot of "New Girl" but couldn't stay on the show because of his commitment to ABC's "Happy Endings," which was canceled Friday.)
Johnson would also like to work on something that helps aspiring TV writers get their shows on the air.
"I love writing. It's such a great thing to come up with an idea and develop it," he said. "I'm very interested in other writers and somebody who has a great idea but no 'in' into television. I'd like to see people get their dream shows on TV. It's something I'm really passionate about."
Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow her online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar
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