New Girl creator Liz Meriwether has recalled her experiences with Prince on the show, writing an article that opens up on the process of recruiting her late guest star, and her work with him.
In the article for Vulture.com, Meriwether talks of Prince’s initial agreement to take part in the episode, after which he changed his mind over a script edit and then agreed to come back later the same day following further changes.
Prince starred in episode 14 of series 3 of the New Girl, and his appearance saw American audience numbers jump from an average of between 3 and 4 million to a one-off figure of over 26 million.
Meriwether said “The truth is, I had no idea why Prince had agreed to guest-star on New Girl. I was told he loved the show, that it was one of the few shows he watched. How could that be true? We weren’t cool enough for Prince — we did an entire episode about someone leaving a wet towel in the bathroom. A very real part of me felt that this was a prank some mean girls from middle school had spent 15 years concocting.”
When Prince later backed out of the episode, Meriwether persuaded him to give her until the end of the day to revise the script, an idea to which the Minnesota native agreed, hesitantly, she explained, adding “I still don’t know why he gave me another chance.”
Meriwether goes on to explain Prince’s artistic vision for the show, and the influence he ended up having:
“We shot nights for a week in this enormous house an hour outside of Los Angeles, which meant working from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., when everything starts to feel like a dream. I was incredibly shy around him, convinced that I would say the wrong thing and make him leave. But once I got over the initial terror of speaking to him, I realized we were just two people who were both obsessed with making the episode good.”
“He wanted to choose the name of the non-speaking chef character, the chef’s wardrobe, the paintings on the walls, the linens in the bedroom set, his wardrobe, Zooey’s wardrobe, the music, the pancakes, the hairstyles … he had a piece of art, a poem written out in the shape of an egg, flown from Minnesota to hang on the wall of the set. His vision of the episode was all-encompassing, but I never felt overpowered. He always asked what I thought. It was like he was asking me to rise up to meet him.”
Meriwether also spoke of the episode in an interview earlier this week, in which she gave further details.
“We were shooting,” Meriwether told EW, “and somebody nudged me and I looked up and he was standing on a balcony pointing at me and beckoning me with his finger.”
After following him, he took her into a bathroom and switched off the lights without a word. “I was like, ‘Uh?’” Meriwether recalled. “I didn’t know what was going on. And then he flicked on a lighter under his chin — one of those long, skinny lighters — and then he just looks at me and goes, ‘Isn’t this funnier?’”
Prince died last week at his home in Minneapolis, of causes yet to be determined by his autopsy. His work is expected to dominate the UK charts when latest figures are revealed on Friday, with the top five positions on the album charts looking a realistic possibility.