Last week, multiple news outlets confirmed Megan Fox will fill in for Zooey Deschanel on New Girl while Deschanel is on maternity leave. Fox will play Reagan, a straight-shooting pharmaceutical sales rep in town in town on business who rents out Jessica Day’s room in the loft while she’s away for jury duty.
New Girl comes back in January. Fox will first appear in Episode 5.
Show runner Liz Meriwether said Reagan will shake the guys up in the loft. She said she wrote the part with Fox in mind. She’s been a fan of Fox’s comedy since her role opposite Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in This is 40. Fox is best known for her starring role in the Transformers franchise. She’s appeared on television in Two and a Half Men, before her recurring role in Hope & Faith.
So what do I think? I thought HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall made a good observation. Fox was good in This is 40, but she’ll take on much more in New Girl. It’s a totally different challenge, especially if Meriwether is counting on her filling in for Deschanel’s work load. If, instead, New Girl leans on Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson to carry the load, this situation may work out fine enough.
But Fox is filling in for Deschanel who mastered her role last season and brought the show back to life after the horrendous experiment with Jess dating Nick marred the third season. Deschanel’s chemistry with the guys, always stellar, will be difficult for Fox to recreate, but these are the challenges of any fill-in. I haven’t ready anywhere how long Deschanel will be away or how long Fox will sit in, but the role is at least going to be recurring, and Deschanel will at least be gone long enough for Meriwether to feel like she needed to find a substitute female presence.
Fox can’t replace Deschanel. She can’t try to be Jess. She needs to be her own character. On one hand, Fox could parlay a successful replacement role in New Girl into a separate sitcom role where she’s the star, if that’s something she wants. Fox has, for the most part, been out of the limelight since 2012 when she played Desi in This is 40, so this is her return — and it’s a big one.
Gotta say, I was very unsure when I first read that Fox was coming into the show. But I think I was more upset that Deschanel was going to be out for a while. Fox is a very different actress than Deschanel. Zooey is a full-time comedy actress, while Fox has been much more sexualized in her career by roles in Transformers and even the very early guest appearances in Two and a Half Men. Plenty of actresses like Fox have succeeded in limited roles on New Girl (see: Brooklyn Decker), but Fox has to sustain during an extended stay on the show. It could be messy. It could be passable.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the cast of guys — Greenfield, Johnson, Lamorne Morris — is a rather versatile group. They can work with anyone.
What do you guys think?