Zooey Deschanel Talks to Screen Spy About New Girl, The Emmys, The Simpsons, and More
FOX’s hit comedy New Girl returns for a second season on Tuesday, September 25, and its multi-talented star Zooey Deschanel took a break from her busy production schedule to sit down with Screen Spy and other members of the entertainment press this week to talk about the new season, her personal sense of style, and what it’s like to be nominated for an Emmy award.
In addition to her numerous television roles and many popular films (Elf, 500 Days of Summer), Zooey is also one half of the popular singing group She and Him with musical partner M. Ward. She spoke about balancing the many sides of her busy life when asked which she enjoys most.
“I like them all for different reasons. I think it’s important to do a lot of different things. These are all really exciting, fun jobs. You don’t want to stop appreciating them because of the grind. So, I think it’s really important to have, at least for me, different things that I enjoy doing. They all play different roles in making me feel creatively satisfied. I really like the collaboration of doing movies and television. But, I like the sort of solitary work of doing music. I love live performance, too. So, it’s all really great.”
Zooey is famously funny in her role as the eccentric Jess on New Girl, but says she doesn’t consider herself a comedienne.
“I’ve always loved making people laugh,” she admitted, and said that in school she would often play the comic relief character. “But, I did drama, too,” she continued. “I sort of consider myself a comedic actress, not a comedienne. I think it’s different. You know I’m not a stand-up or anything. But, playing into comedic situations is sort of where, I think, my strength lies.”
Acting runs in the Deschanel family; Zooey’s sister Emily is the star of the FOX drama Bones, and her mother Mary Jo appeared in Twin Peaks. But although Jess’ mom will be a character in Season 2, Zooey told us that they never considered hiring her actress mother to play the role. “I would love to work with my mom, but I think you want to keep things a little bit more imaginative. If I were to work with my mom, I probably would not want her to play my mom. That would get too real.”
Zooey said she was very excited to have Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner playing Jess’ parents in Season 2. “We had talked about maybe having Jess’ parents come in last year, but it didn’t happen. Then, this year, before even the season started, we talked about the fact that they were going to introduce Jess’ parents in the Thanksgiving episode. So, we talked about a bunch of people and these were just beyond my wildest dreams. They’re people that I think would be just so perfect. I can’t wait to start shooting with them.”
In the first episode of Season 2, ‘Relaunch,’ Jess loses her teaching job, and Zooey discussed how that affected her character. “It definitely affects her life pretty deeply because this is something she’s wanted to do her entire life, and considered teaching to be her calling. So, it definitely is a blow to her. But, I like how Jess is sort of open to new things and although she’s upset about it, she throws herself into to trying to find a new job and is pretty positive about things, which is a quality I like in the character.”
About being nominated for an Emmy award, Zooey admitted that she had not prepared a speech prior to the ceremony. “I don’t have a speech … We work crazy hours so I keep putting off writing something,” she explained. “There are so many amazing people in the category. I feel like I have a one in seven chance. Long story short, I haven’t written anything and therefore I have not rehearsed anything.” She also talked about her fashion style and sensibilty for the Emmy ceremony. “I try to keep things as low key as possible because it makes me less nervous. I try to just have a good time, basically, while getting ready,” she told us, “because the whole thing is supposed to be fun. It’s a treat that we’re all getting appreciated. It should be something that we enjoy … So, I never freaked out too much about the fashion or the hair or the make-up.”
Zooey shares a quirky, vintage style with New Girl’s Jess, and said that although she’s not allowed to take any of the show’s wardrobe home, she does sometimes buy clothes for herself that she has tried on with the costume designer or worn on the show. “[Sometimes] I’ll go on-line and buy it. But, I have actually worn my own stuff on the show a couple of times. Last year, there was something I wore when I went out to dinner with Liz, the show creator, and she liked the shorts I wore, so I wore them on the show. Actually last week I wore a dress that was mine. So, a few times I’ll wear my own stuff.”
One plot point that everyone wanted to know about was the possibility of a relationship developing between Jess and Nick (Jake Johnson), one of her three male roommates on the show. But Zooey said there was no danger of that happening. “I think that they’re not ready for each other and nobody is going to push them together,” she told us. “I think Nick and Jess have a great chemistry and I work really well with Jake Johnson. I think it’s nice the sort of love-hate-but love relationship they have. They’re not going to throw them together or anything soon. They might tease it out.”
She was even more certain when asked if Jess might end up with either of the her other two roommates, Schmidt (Max Greenfield) or Winston (Lamorne Morris). “I don’t think so,” she replied firmly. “I’m going to say no.” When asked if that was a solid no, she repeated, “I’m going to say no.”
Another recent project that Zooey discussed was her appearance on the season premiere of The Simpsons, in which she reprises her role as Bart’s love interest Mary Spuckler. “I’ve been a huge fan of the show since I was like ten years old,” she said. “I did an episode four or five years ago, and it was really fun then. But, I had to record it. I was working in Philadelphia and I had to record it out there. So, I didn’t get to see all the people read or record with any of the actors. So, this time, I got to record with Nancy [Cartwright, who plays Bart] and that was really exciting. I got to sing some songs and I actually got to write two songs for them. So, one for this episode and one for the next I’m on. That was super exciting,” she enthused. “It was kind of dream come true. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m a huge fan of everyone over there. It’s been nothing but fun.”
Don’t miss Zooey Deschanel in New Girl’s second season premiere, with two episodes on Tuesday, September 25 at 8 ET/7 Central and 9 PM ET/8 Central on FOX; and in The Simpsons’ 24th season premiere on Sunday, September 30 at 8 ET/7 Central.