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'I jump at any film my kids can watch'

Max Greenfield talks to Laura Harding about home-schooling and what happened when he and his daughter decided to watch New Girl

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New adventure: from left, Roger (voiced by Max Greenfield), Old Ed and Gwen in a scene from Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!

New adventure: from left, Roger (voiced by Max Greenfield), Old Ed and Gwen in a scene from Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!

Press Association Images

New adventure: from left, Roger (voiced by Max Greenfield), Old Ed and Gwen in a scene from Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!

Max Greenfield is supposed to be home-schooling his five-year-old son, but at the moment the little boy has a pumpkin on his head.

It's not a real pumpkin, the New Girl actor stresses, merely a pumpkin-shaped plastic bucket used for trick or treating.

"You wouldn't believe what is happening right now," he laughs over Zoom from the family home in Los Angeles. "I should go and help him, but it's too funny."

He turns away from the screen for a moment. "Hey Ozzie, don't put that on your head. You can't see anything when you have that on there."

He turns back. "He'll be fine... oh no, he just walked into a wall."

Greenfield's juggling of work and home-schooling will be relatable to millions of parents as he navigates the complexities of professional responsibilities and educating two children, daughter Lily (10) and the errant Ozzie.

"I'm on my phone right now because I'm sort of multi-tasking," he explains. "My son is home-schooling and I've got to keep an eye on him,

"He's currently sitting on a chair in a way that looks completely unsafe, so if he falls down at some point and starts crying, we will continue, but I might have to hold him."

Mercifully, Ozzie removes the pumpkin bucket, but then Greenfield flips the camera around to show me that the little boy has tipped his chair backwards onto the floor and is perching on the thin edge of the seat.

"I would just say this whole thing has been a test," he says good-humouredly.

The actor, best known for playing the fastidious Schmidt in New Girl, as well as turns in Veronica Mars and The Assassination of Gianni Versace, is hoping to offer other parents some respite with his new film Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!

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Actor Max Greenfield

Actor Max Greenfield

Actor Max Greenfield

 

He voices a dog who is part of a species surveillance project designed and monitored by cats and dogs to keep the peace when conflicts arise.

"I was very familiar with the first two films, so when they called and asked if I wanted to do Cats & Dogs 3, I was thrilled," he tells me.

"There are so few projects that I have been part of that my kids can watch. In fact, there are many projects that I forbid them to watch.

"Lily and I tried to watch New Girl. She was like, 'Can I watch New Girl?' I thought, 'Maybe', and we sat down to watch it from the beginning. I don't remember season one at all, so we sat down and watched it.

"For a minute I go, 'Man, I forgot how funny and great this was'. Then, four minutes in, there is some sex joke and I go, 'Oh no, no, no, no, no. We will fast-forward that'.

"I realised, especially with the Schmidt stuff, that I was fast-forwarding every one of my scenes. So I go, 'You know what? Let's just wait a couple of years'. So, any opportunity that comes along where I can do a project that my kids can watch and enjoy and we can experience it together, I jump at it."

Greenfield voices rule-following dog Roger in Cats & Dogs 3, who is adamant he is a monitor, not a field agent, and who bears more than a passing resemblance to the actor.

The 40-year-old and his wife, Tess Sanchez, got their own dog during lockdown. It provided countless hours of solace to the family when they were stuck inside their house.

"We rescued a beautiful pitbull. He's the greatest.

"He really has been the glue of our family during this time. He's sort of the buffer - if one of us has been like, 'I've had enough', you just go to Joey the dog and you just lie with him and he just loves to cuddle.

"Ozzie will just go outside with Joey and play for 15 minutes. That is 15 minutes that he's away from me. That, I think, really helps him.

"That usually means I'm with the other kid, though. Dad doesn't get a break."

With every cast under the sun seemingly reuniting over Zoom these days, will he be getting back together with the New Girl gang any time soon?

"I don't know. I think if it was the right circumstances and it made sense, for sure - if somebody was setting it up in the right way," Greenfield says.

"Don't ask Jake (Johnson, one of his co-stars) or I. We don't know how to use a computer. I barely got on to this interview."

Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite! is in cinemas now

Belfast Telegraph