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Max Greenfield On Being An Axe Auteur

The New Girl star writes, directs, and stars in the web series Finding Susan Glenn.

Max Greenfield is best known for playing Schmidt, the womanizing—and often shirtless—roommate on Zooey Deschanel’s FOX sitcom New Girl, and Axe, the men’s personal-care brand, has a reputation for making sexy ads full of hot girls that would likely appeal to a dude like Schmidt. But both Greenfield and Axe show off their sweeter, more romantic sides in Finding Susan Glenn, a six-part web series written and directed by and starring Greenfield.

Building on the premise established in the BBH-created television commercial "Susan Glenn," which finds Kiefer Sutherland wishing he had pursued the girl of his dreams, Finding Susan Glenn centers on a guy, played by Greenfield, working up the nerve to approach his "Susan Glenn."

While the Sutherland ad has a wistful tone, "Finding Susan Glenn" takes a different approach. "Axe called us, and they had shown us all this material on Susan Glenn and what their concept was for their campaign, and they asked, ‘Is there anything that you think you want to lend comedically to this?’" says Greenfield, whose work on New Girl earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy this year. "And I thought, ‘Yeah, sure!’ So I wrote up a few webisodes and pitched them to Axe, and they were really enthusiastic about them."

As we see in Finding Susan Glenn, Greenfield’s goofy but endearing alter ego (whose name is never revealed) has just gotten out of a relationship with a girl who cheated on him, and while he wants to move on and make a play for his "Susan Glenn," he lacks confidence. So he seeks advice from a buddy who is reputed to be a ladykiller (but sure doesn’t sound like one). The wannabe Romeo also updates his wardrobe, choosing a rather dorky tan suit to wear on his big date. Ultimately, he meets his Susan Glenn on a park bench, she isn’t put off by the suit, and they actually click.

With production support from Haven Entertainment, Greenfield shot Finding Susan Glenn, which was recently released via Axe’s YouTube and Facebook pages, in Los Angeles in just one day. The webisodes were "loosely scripted," according to Greenfield, who says he hired actors who were fantastic at improv to "open it up a little bit."

Each webisode opens with a title card revealing that it is an Axe production, but otherwise you’d be hard-pressed to find a way to link Finding Susan Glenn with Axe. While one can easily imagine Greenfield’s New Girl character Schmidt dousing his chiseled torso with Axe bodyspray to attract the ladies, the hapless romantic featured in Finding Susan Glenn doesn’t use or even mention Axe products, and there is no product placement in any of the six webisodes. "That’s one of the greatest things about this campaign—it’s not necessarily about a product. It was about this message, and that is really admirable," Greenfield says.

Finding Susan Glenn marks the first time Greenfield has worked with a brand as a filmmaker, but the actor, who recently began shooting the second season of New Girl, has made other shorts, including a spoof of MTV’s The Hills. He also stars in a Twilight parody airing on the August 30 episode of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series NTSF:SD:SUV.

"I usually let ideas marinate for awhile, and if I’m still thinking about it after a few weeks then I usually become obsessed with it," Greenfield says, "and I think to myself, ‘I now have to make this.’ Then I go to any lengths to see it through."

Twentieth Century Fox

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