Zooey Deschanel

The lovely, Chipmunk-imitating actor has some odd dietary issues.

Illustration: Rob Kelly

Zooey Deschanel was bound to become famous. She was born in L.A. to film-industry parents (cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel) and has a well-known older sister (Bones star Emily). She went to the same high school as Kate Hudson and Jack Black, and she has dated big-name men (Jason Schwartzman). Also, just look at her. Women that pretty do not become telemarketers.

And so, fame has become her. Deschanel, 27, already has been in more than two dozen films, including Almost Famous, All the Real Girls and Elf. Now she's turning up on the small screen in Sci Fi Channel's Tin Man, a sort of whacked-out version of The Wizard of Oz, in which Deschanel plays D.G., the sci-fi counterpart of Dorothy (Alan Cumming plays the scarecrow, a.k.a. Glitch). Deschanel called us from L.A., where she lives with her sister, to talk about gluten, Chipmunks and ukuleles.

Everyone in your family works in show business. Would your parents have been disappointed had you become an accountant or firefighter or something?
No, no. They just wanted us to be happy and didn't care what we did. It was really nice, because they were very nurturing and wanted us to take lessons in whatever we were interested in. When I was little, I remember I was really into cooking, so they got me into this young chefs' club and got me recipes.

Are you still into cooking?
Yes, I love to cook. But I have some food allergies, so I have to contend with those.

What are you allergic to?
Dairy and eggs and, um, gluten. Wheat gluten. It's not really that good for you anyway. That's what I like to tell myself when I see something I can't eat.

What the hell can you eat, bark?
There's a lot of stuff you can cook without them. My sister's vegan, so we cook desserts together. We try not to use refined sugars or anything. There's this place in New York called BabyCakes, and it's all vegan cakes and cookies. I get there a lot. I love New York.

So tell me about Tin Man.
It's a six-hour miniseries based on The Wizard of Oz, but it's really, really far removed from it. It's more of a science-fiction adventure. It's a little bit more modern and quite different, but it's the same sort of story structure.

Are you prepared for the barrage of sci-fi fans you're going to get? They're pretty die-hard, you know.
I don't know how well prepared I could be. Maybe stock up on saltine crackers and Arrowhead bottled water. I'll get some nonperishables in my house and hole up for the winter.

You've sung in quite a few movies. Are you sick of acting already?
I'm not sick of acting, I just like to sing, too. I write music. There will be a record probably next year. I'm always doing something musically—when I'm working or when I'm off. I used to spend a lot of time doing singing impressions.

I've heard that you do a Chipmunk.
Yeah, I do!

Which one: Alvin, Simon or Theodore?
Hmm, it's probably Theodore. No, no, I'm more Simon. I sound like a brainy Chipmunk.

Cute. Also cute—you play the ukulele. How does that instrument become part of one's musical repertoire?
It's really easy to learn how to play. I like the way it sounds and it's just so cute! I like to play the ukulele, but I'm not, like, awesome at it. I mostly play the piano and the guitar.

Are people always hounding you to perform at their luaus?
I wish I got invited to more luaus. I really do! If they did, I would definitely take them up on the offer. I have yet to be invited to a luau in my life.

Good news. I'm having a luau this weekend and haven't found a ukuleleist yet. How much do you charge?
To play the ukulele at your luau? I would do it for free.

Tin Man airs Sun 2--Tue 4 on Sci Fi Channel.