Zooey Deschanel may be Fox's New Girl, but with more than a dozen movies, several high-profile TV appearances, her indie-rock band She & Him and a sister who's a staple on the network that houses her new comedy, the 31-year-old actress is anything but new.
But just in case you're still unclear of who this adorable star is, TVGuide.com sat down with Deschanel to get the scoop on her and New Girl, where she plays an unlucky-in-love elementary school teacher who moves out of her philandering boyfriend's apartment and in with three unruly guys.
1. Zooey doesn't mind being branded "adorable." From the billboards to the TV spots, if viewers know anything about New Girl's leading lady, it's that she's adorable. That was even the topic discussed at length at this summer's Fox fall TV previews. But Deschanel doesn't mind the label. "I just be me," she says. "I'm flattered by it. At least they're not [describing me] like 'ugly' or 'stupid.'"
2. Zooey doesn't live in her sister's shadow. Although Emily Deschanel has been a fixture for six seasons on Bones, Deschanel doesn't worry about being overshadowed on the same network by her sister; she actually thinks it's pretty cool. "I was never worried about that," Deschanel explains. "Emily's older than me, but she started [acting] after me. We have totally different identities, and she's on a drama and I'm on a comedy."
3. Zooey embraces jumping from the big screen to the small. When it comes down to it, Deschanel wanted nothing more than to play this character. "I love Jess," she says. "I mean, I watch TV, so it makes sense that I would do TV. I really make decisions just based on the material and that's what this was. It's really hard to find parts this good for girls in general. In movies, you might find a part this good, but would anyone see it? I felt so encouraged to read a role that was so funny and so perfectly suited to me and was the star of the show. It just felt like a very obvious decision."
4. Zooey likes playing the quirky girl. She's honed this type of role in movies like Yes Man and (500) Days of Summer, so taking on Jess, an amalgamation of New Girl creator Liz Meriweather and Deschanel, was a cinch. "I loved how much she's herself," Deschanel says. "She is a modern woman, she's kind of a girly-girl, and she's very much an open book with her feelings. She doesn't feel like she needs to be a man or be masculine to express herself. She's unique, she's quirky. Yeah, she does things that are awkward, but she's completely expressive."
5. Zooey coulda been a child-star contender! Deschanel caught the acting bug early on. "I remember growing up, I really thought all the sassy kids on the sitcoms I watched were really cool," she says. "When I found out that Rudy from The Cosby Show was a real kid, not an adult playing a kid, I was really upset that I wasn't on TV. My mom had to have a really long talk with me explaining they didn't want their kids to work, and I was like, 'But Rudy's a real kid!'"
New Girl premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on Fox.