Zooey Deschanel on New Girl | Interview

In Fox’s New Girl, Deschanel is single, can’t sing and breaks down a lot. Not much like the cheery star herself.

0

Comments

Add +

Photograph: Autumn Dewilde/Fox; Photo illustration: Jamie DiVecchio Ramsay


‘If you’re gonna have a job that’s 14- to 15-hour days,” Zooey Deschanel says breezily of her new Fox comedy, New Girl, “might as well be a fun comedy.” A job that’s fun—this is how the unassuming, lighthearted indie actor ((500) Days of Summer) and singer (She & Him) tends to speak of her career. While the 31-year-old now shares a network with her older sister, Emily Deschanel (Fox’s Bones), the two don’t compare notes. “I don’t just sit around talking about it, you know. It’s, like, what I do.” New Girl premieres September 20, the day after the second anniversary of Zooey’s wedding with Death Cab for Cutie’s frontman, Ben Gibbard.

New Girl’s pilot reminded me a bit of a Three’s Company setup without the pesky landlords: Three men and a woman live but don’t sleep together; they negotiate gender differences.
The thing that makes it different is it has the tone of, like, a John Hughes movie. It feels more like a romantic comedy to me than a sitcom, tonally. We’re not, like, hiding any kittens from our landlord. That, Three’s Company has up on us.

You sing a little in the show.
I don’t really sing. It’s singing out of self-expression. I don’t think she’s supposed to be a good singer. Whenever she feels awkward, she sings.

But you sing well here, too. You wrote and recorded the theme song.
Yeah, well, I have a music career.

Yeah, I have heard of She & Him.
[Laughs] I was like, wait, you know, I am a singer. I do also do this. [Laughs]

Given the show’s focus on single life, what was that like for you before marriage?
Um, hmm, it’s a lot of years to cover in one question. I was never, you know, a scenester. I always had boyfriends. I never was, like, [In a scenester voice] on the single scene, ready to mingle. I wasn’t a playa. I’ll say it. I was not a playa.

When commenting on his band’s new, cheerier sound, your husband recently told us, “I fell in love and got married to an amazing person.”
I don’t know who he’s talking about. [Laughs] Who is this person he’s talking about?!

What’s been the difference in your outlook since marrying Ben?
It’s nice ’cause you can relax. You’re, like, oh, I feel supported and happy. I’ve had more focus. I can just do my work. I’m not thinking about that other crap.

So it’s not like you made him lighter, he made you moodier.
No, my influence is very powerful. [Laughs] No, no, no, he moved to L.A. and we have such fun together in a sunshine-y place.

He also was very open about giving up drinking. Are you both teetotalers?
I never drank very much, and he doesn’t drink, so I don’t end up drinking. I’ll have a glass of wine if I feel like it. My constitution is too delicate, sir.

Did having a cinematographer dad and an actor mom inform your take on this industry?
Yeah, I think of it as work, and you have to enjoy your work. I just feel so lucky that I have a job I like. You know, my parents traveled all over the world and I saw the sort of difficult side of making movies, and that was good ’cause I don’t think of it just as, like, glitz and glamour.

You wrote a letter to Vogue when you were 17: “Why would you want to limit the spectrum of beauty to an ideal when you as a popular women’s magazine have the opportunity to expand it?” Do you still feel strongly about how the media defines women’s beauty?
That letter—they edited it down. I was in high school and seeing how the scientific method worked. And [the article] had taken people but hadn’t properly surveyed them; they hadn’t even used the scientific method to come to their conclusion. That part got cut out. [Laughs] I’m, like, all for fashion magazines. It really was just a suggestion that, hey, maybe you could do something to make people think of beauty in a broader spectrum.

How does that pertain to you personally? You’re sometimes described with phrases like “beautiful, but not traditionally so.”
I think vanity is the enemy of being a good actor. The actors that I grew up admiring, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, they’re beautiful but they also look like real women—and Debra Winger—these are the people I aspire to be like. If somebody wanted to be just perfect looking, maybe you wouldn’t get as many opportunities. People may not sympathize with you. [Laughs]

You have such an affable personality—when are you at your least affable?
I’m pretty easygoing, but if I get tired and I lose my voice, I’ll sound dry, even if I’m not being dry.

Come on—even that is endearing, though.
But a couple times I’ve done press junkets and I really think the person interviewing me got the wrong idea ’cause I was so tired and I had lost my voice, and I’m, like, [Drily] “Good job.” And they’re like, “What a jerk. She’s being so sarcastic.” It’s a very strange thing that I for a very long time made a career out of playing dry people, dry ironic-sense-of-humor characters, because I am the least sarcastic person! My sense of humor is just a little zanier.

New Girl premieres September 20 at 8pm on Fox.


Users say

0 comments

Follow us

Time Out Chicago on Facebook   Time Out Chicago on Twitter   Time Out Chicago on Instagram   Time Out Chicago on Pinterest   Time Out Chicago on Google Plus   Time Out Chicago on Foursquare   Time Out Chicago on Spotify