One of the fall's most anticipated comedies, Fox's New Girl (which premieres tomorrow night at 9 PM) casts "adorkable" (their word, not ours) Zooey Deschanel as newly single gal, Jess, who recovers from a bad break-up by moving in with a trio of eccentric male roommates. Deschanel, whose previous TV experience includes appearances on Frasier, American Dad! and Weeds, took a moment last week to speak with the press about her first foray into small-screen stardom. Here, she talks about being one of those infernal "manic pixie dream girl," her character's musical ambitions and what she loves the most about her new alter ego.
On being part of the "manic pixie dream girl" phenomenon.
"Well, I think that it's interesting. I don't know who coined that term and how it's weirdly broad and specific at the same time, if you know what I mean. But, I think that's sort of an example of if you think of a dream girl, you think of someone that you're looking at from afar, like someone who's like a weird modern dream girl. But, I feel like in a way that's a very distant point of view. That's not really what I want to portray necessarily. I don't mind; I'm fine if that's for some of the parts I portray. But, I would prefer to be a person that people relate to than somebody that people feel distant from. But, sometimes, I think a lot of that has to do with maybe being in films that are from a more masculine point of view. It's nice to be on a show that was created by a woman, starring a woman even though there's guy humor in it, too. But, it's just nice to have a little bit more intimacy, I guess, with the character."
On whether the role was written with her specifically.
"I think it was kind of actor/writer kismet situation, because I know that it wasn't written for me initially, but it was sort of a perfect fit. You know how you go to a store and there's a dress that just looks like it was made for you, but it wasn't? That's sort of like what it was like."
On whether she has her own theme song and Jess' musical future.
"Yes, I actually made up a theme song for myself when I was seven. My parents still sing it to me [and] it's still embarrassing. [But] I think that [Jess] is not really a singer, although that is something I do as a profession. I felt like Jess should be -- her singing comes out of pure self-expression. I just didn't want her to be like Maria Callas or Beyoncé. I just didn't want her to be a really great singer. I thought that whatever manner she tries to sing in should match her mood at the time, and that she's not really singing out of showing off her vocal togs as much as trying to express something she can't express, like a certain awkwardness. Yes, she sings a lot. That's one of her character quirks. So, you will definitely hear a lot more weird random singing."
On adjusting to the pace of a television series after her feature film career.
"I really have, I think, adjusted well because I just love being busy. I love having a lot of content. I prefer to have constant stimulation. I like going to set every day and working with the same awesome people. I really like that, even though it's really long hours and there's a lot to memorize. It's really exciting and it's really fun. It's fast moving, but I really love not waiting around. I like getting everything done quickly. There's something really exhilarating about it. I also enjoy getting to develop a working relationship with a group of people; there's always a little bit of summer camp sadness to doing a movie. If you're having a really good time, it [always] ends. There's a certain amount of melancholy to that. I like that, doing a TV show, you have potential for this to go on. That potential is a really nice thing. [But] I wasn't looking for a TV show, specifically. I was sort of developing a show last year for HBO that was a little bit in development limbo. I was also thinking about maybe doing an arc on a TV show or something, just looking into it, because I'd been tour with my band all last year and had really taken a lot of time off working as an actress. Then I just happened to read this script. I was so blown away by how perfect it was for me and how funny it was, and sweet, and smart. I just fell in love with this project -- it was just too great to pass up."
On Jess' romantic future
"She's definitely distraught in the pilot and the pilot's a lot about her break-up. There is some stuff about the break-up [going forward], but it's more, I think, the focus is more on her finding her way in future [episodes]. It's more 'I'm used to being a single woman and finding my way in that world.' That is more the sort of territory that we cover in the episodes that follow the pilot."
On what she likes the most about her character.
"I really love that she's totally herself, even though she's awkward at times and kind of nerdy at times. She's not afraid of being herself, whether it comes out as being a little bit naive or something else, or just a really strong sense of self. She's totally herself. I think that's really nice to see in female characters, because a lot of times female characters are just reacting to the men. Especially in comedies, I think a lot of time the female characters are there to provide a balance for guys. And, I really don't feel that's true with this character. I really feel like she's equal to all the guys. I really, really love that. She's a real true modern woman."
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