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Interview with Zooey Deschanel of "New Girl" on
FBC PUBLICITY: New Girl Conference Call with Zooey
September 15, 2011/12:00 p.m. PDT
Todd Adair Ė FBC Publicity
Zooey Deschanel Ė New Girl, Jess Day
Moderator Welcome to the New Girl Conference with Zooey Deschanel. At
this time, phone lines are in a listen only mode, but we will have a
question and answer session. To ask a question today, you may press star
followed by one. Also, todayís conference call is being recorded.
Iíll now turn the conference over to Todd Adair.
T. Adair Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. New Girl is our new
comedy series. Weíre very excited about premiering on Tuesday, September
20 at 9/8 Central following the third season premiere of Glee. Zooey,
thanks for being on the call today. Zooeyís calling in from New York and
weíll get the conference started.
Moderator Our first question is from Joshua Maloney with Niagara
J. Maloney So, in your estimation, do you think itís better to be the
ďitĒ girl, or to sort of fly under the radar? How do you like being the
center of everyoneís entertainment world these days?
Z. Deschanel Itís good being both. I always think of myself, in my mind,
I always think of myself as an underdog type. But, Iíve been called ďitĒ
girl so many times, at different points in my career. So, I guess ďitĒ
girl is sort of a flexible term. I mean either one, I just like working
and having a job. Itís nice. But, I like that I have a show that the
network is really behind and that is really fun to work on. So, Iím just
Moderator Our next question is from Alice Chapman-Nugent with the Times
A. Chapman-Nugent When did you decide to do comedy? Youíre so good at
it. Was it like a natural thing for you, or did you kind of fall into
it, or howíd that come about?
Z. Deschanel I always liked doing comedy when I would do plays in school
always. I would play the comedic roles. I guess thatís kind of how it
started. But, I always think of myself as comedic actress. I guess later
I found that I could do drama as well, but I really started out thinking
that I was more of a comedic actress. Thatís what I really love to do.
So, Iím super happy and excited that I get to do funny stuff every week
on the show.
Moderator Our next question is from Anne Brody with Elle.
A. Brody Iím just thinking that Jessicaís a very strong and very unique
character. Iím wondering if the writers based it in part on your
personality and character.
Z. Deschanel I think it was kind of actor/writer kismet situation,
because I know that Liz Meriwether, who created the show. I know it
wasnít written for me initially, but it was sort of a perfect fit, you
know. You go to a store and thereís a dress that just looks like it was
made for you, but it wasnít. Thatís sort of like what it was like. Then,
now that Iím on the show, it is written for me. Itís wonderful to have
all these great writers writing stuff for me.
Moderator Next, weíll go to the line of Ethan Altier with Television
E. Altier In addition to ďitĒ girl, youíre often also associated with
the pop culture term manic pixie dream girl. Do you have any feelings
about that classification and the debate that goes along with it? It
feels like that type is both loved and hated in equal measure.
Z. Deschanel Well, I think that itís interesting. Itís this weird
phenomenon. I donít know who coined that term and how itís weirdly broad
and specific at the same time, if you know what I mean. But, I think
thatís sort of an example of if you think of a dream girl, you think of
someone that youíre looking at from afar, like someone whoís like a
weird modern dream girl.
But, I feel like in a way thatís a very distant point of view. Thatís
not really what I want to portray necessarily. I donít mind; Iím fine if
thatís 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.
Itís nice to be on a show that was created by a woman, starring a woman
even though thereís guy humor in it, too. But, itís just nice to have a
little bit more intimacy, I guess, with the character. So, I hope that
answers your question.
Moderator Next, weíll go to Hunter Walker with The Daily.
H. Walker I know that the plot line of the new show involves you
recovering from being cheated on. Iím wondering if youíve ever dealt
with that experience in real life.
Z. Deschanel Oh, thatís a personal question. I think thatís too personal
a question to ask. But, you want to ask another question, because Iím
not going to answer that.
H. Walker Do you think that the male perspective on relationships would
help someone who was getting over being cheated on?
Z. Deschanel I definitely think that in terms of this character. I think
that sheís starting a whole new life. Sheís been in one mode for a
really long time. Sheís sort of living out the stuff that should have
happened in her late teens and early 20s in her late 20s. So, I think in
a weird way, she bypassed all this stuff because sheís with the same guy
for a long time.
I think more specifically than generally, these guys are helping her get
over this experience, but not just that. Itís not just getting over the
break-up. Itís also finding her way in a new life being a single woman
in her late 20s.
Moderator Next, weíll go to David Martindale with Hearst Newspapers.
D. Martindale Iíve never made up a theme song for myself, but all of my
dogs and my bird, they have theme songs. I was wondering if youíre the
type of girl who would in real life be likely to make up a theme song
for yourself or if you actually have.
Z. Deschanel Yes, I actually did when I was seven. I made up a theme
song for myself. My parents still sing it to me. Itís still
Moderator Next, weíll go to Rose Kerrio with Ö Sugar.
R. Kerrio So, I was wondering what the adjustment to working on a TV
show has been like for you. Are you enjoying it? Have you faced any
difficulties in adjusting to working on a set?
Z. Deschanel I really have, I think, adjusted well because just love
being busy. I love having a lot of content. I prefer to have constant
stimulation. So, I like going to set every day and working with the same
awesome people. I really like that, even though itís really long hours
and itís a lot to memorize. Itís really exciting and itís really fun.
Itís fast moving, but I really love not waiting around. I like getting
everything done quickly. Thereís something really exhilarating about it.
So, I really enjoy that.
I also enjoy getting to develop a working relationship with a group of
people; that thereís always a little bit of summer camp sadness to doing
a movie. If youíre having a really good time, it ends. Then, thereís a
certain amount of I think melancholy to that. I like that doing a TV
show, you have potential for this to go on. So, that potential is a
really nice thing.
Moderator Our next question is from Michael Bayliss with The Huffington
M. Bayliss I saw the episode also, and enjoyed it very much, especially
the characterís few attempts at singing. And, was just wondering if
thatís a hidden talent of that character? Will we be hearing more from
her in that regard?
Z. Deschanel Well, I think that sheís not really, sheís not a singer,
although that is something I do as a profession. I felt like Jess should
beóher singing comes out of pure self-expression. I just didnít want her
to be like Maria Callas or whatever, Beyoncť. I just didnít want her to
be a really great singer.
I thought she should be whatever manner she tries to sing in should
match her mood at the time, and that sheís not really singing out of
showing off her vocal togs as much as trying to express something she
canít express, and to express a certain awkwardness. Yes, she sings a
lot. Thatís one of her character quirks. So, you will definitely hear a
lot more weird random singing.
Moderator We now go to the line of Danielle Tratiano with the LA
D. Tratiano I just wanted to chat a little bit about the future for
Jess, because so far in the pilot episode she is pretty distraught by
this break-up and it seems like she is going to be relying on these guys
to help her a lot. But, they maybe are not the best equipped for that.
So, how fast do things turn around for her?
Z. Deschanel Sheís definitely distraught in the pilot, and the pilotís a
lot about the break-up. There is some stuff about the break-up. But,
itís more, I think, finding her way in the future is more of the focus
and less the getting over the break-up. Itís more the totally Iím used
to being a single woman and finding her way in that world. That is more
the sort of territory that we cover in the episodes to follow the pilot.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Colin McAvoney with the Express
C. McAvoney I was wondering you spoke a little bit about the differences
between filming a movie as opposed to filming a TV show. But, I was
wondering, correct me if Iím wrong, but most of your work has been in
film it seems. Youíve done some spots on TV shows like Weeds, and things
But, I was wondering how is it that you ended up getting tapped in this
show. Is that something like starring in a TV show was something you
were looking for? Or, did they approach you with this role specifically?
Or, how did that come about?
Z. Deschanel No, I wasnít looking for a TV show. 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 Iíd been tour with my band all
last year and had really taken a lot of time off working as an actress.
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. I guess I hadnít seriously considered any
television shows before, but this was just too great to pass up.
But, yes, they offered me the part. So, they sent it to me and I said I
liked it. They offered it to me and took a chance that I would be able
to do it. They took a chance on me.
Moderator Now, weíll go to Alex Sternberg with TheTVChick.com.
A. Sternberg Zoe, I wanted to know what your favorite aspect of Jess is.
Z. Deschanel I really love that sheís totally herself, even though sheís
awkward at times and kind of nerdy at times. Sheís 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. Sheís totally herself. I
think thatís 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 donít feel thatís true with this character. I really feel
like sheís equal to all the guys. I really, really love that. Sheís a
real true modern woman.
Moderator Now, weíll go to the line of Troy Rogers with TheDeadbolt.com.
T. Rogers I wanted to know how did you relate to Jess in terms of being
the only woman in a house full of men.
Z. Deschanel Well, I feel like itís easy to take the show and be like,
oh, itís a girl and three guys. Obviously with any sort of plot, you can
boil it down and turn it into something that sounds like generic. And, I
do think that that is too generic.
I think that as far as this goes, itís really about the person whoís
having a big change in her life, and these people that help her. Itís
less about male/female dynamics and more, I think, about these
particular individuals relating to one another. I have a lot of guy
friends and they all have helped me a lot in different ways. So, I feel
like itís less about her moving in with guys and more of about the
person whoís really in transition in her life and her friends helping
Moderator We now go to the line of Lori Rackos with Chicago Sun Times.
L. Rackos I was wondering, I was watching the show and all the three men
clearly have issues of their own. I know that Coach is going to be
leaving, unfortunately, after just one episode, and being replaced by
Winston. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about
what his hang-ups are; what kind of dynamic he brings to the table.
Z. Deschanel Winston? Is that what youíre asking, Winston?
L. Rackos Yes, Coachís replacement.
Z. Deschanel Yes, I know who youíre talking about, coming through
Winston. It was confusing.
L. Rackos Yes, sorry. Talk a little bit about Winston.
Z. Deschanel Yes. Well, Winston is Nickís friend from childhood who has
been playing basketball overseas in Latvia for two years. He had been
living in the apartment and then moved out with subletting to Coach. So,
thatís the plot.
But, basically, heís a guy who is figuring himself out, too, because
heís been away chasing his dream. It didnít really work out. Heís back.
Heís trying to find a job. He is a guy whoís really great at everything,
but his dream didnít come true. He wants to win all the time. So, thatís
his little thing, is that he wants to win all the time. Heís really good
at everything, but he doesnít always win. He canít quite understand it.
May I say Lamorne Morris, who plays Winston, is a really wonderful
actor, is really, really funny. Weíre very lucky to have him.
Moderator Weíll go to the line of Rianna Harry with CNN.com.
R. Harry Iím curious what the rapport was like with your costars. I
think in the pilot you guys all seemed to play off each other pretty
naturally. So, kind of walk me through it how read each otherís comedy
styles and how you started to work together to create it.
Z. Deschanel Yes. I actually pretty much read with every single person
that came in for a callback or almost everybody that made it past the
first three, I read with. So, I felt like being a part of that casting
process was really eye opening for me as an actress. Also, it allowed me
to experiment with my character. It also allowed me to really see who I
was going to work best with, because when I was cast, no one else was
I read with all those guys from the beginning. Really, we just cast the
people who were the best actors. Obviously, you want the best comedic
actors. But, I find that the best actors also tend to be really funny
because the comedyís coming out of the situation rather than just the
ability to deliver jokes.
So, we really, first and foremost, were telling a story. We just wanted
the people that could really help tell these stories and were also
hilarious and great actors as well. We really have a great rapport. I
really love these guys so much.
Moderator We now go to the line of Geri Miller with Ö.
G. Miller This is a lot about Jessís dating life. What are the biggest
mistakes that men make? And, conversely, what are the qualities and
behaviors that always win women over on dates?
Z. Deschanel The biggest mistakes that men make? I think being
disingenuous. I donít know. From my perspective probably women are won
over by people who are sweet and respectful and courteous and kind and
funny. I think those are the things that win women over. I think that
the mistakes that anyone can make going on dates is probably not being
themselves because you can only trick people for so long.
Moderator We now go to the line of Christina Aveena with Rock-on
C. Aveena I just want to tell you first of all, before my question, that
I really loved your rendition of Itís So Easy on the Buddy Holly
compilation that just came out.
Z. Deschanel Oh, thank you, thank you.
C. Aveena Ö Iím sorry. The new sitcoms that come out seem to have the
hardest time when it comes to gaining a loyal viewership. What do you
think it is about the New Girl that will most draw people in and keep
them coming back to watch?
Z. Deschanel To be honest, this is a new world for me. So, Iím like that
little kid, I donít know. I have to say thereís something about this
showóand Iím not saying it has anything to do with me, because I
obviously wouldnít want to say that, but this show I feel so lucky I
jumped aboard this train, because the writing is so great and it just
feels really special to me to be working on it. I canít explain it.
I have had this feeling about a small number of things Iíve worked on,
very small numbers. I just have a really special feeling about this. I
think itís really the writing. Itís a good group of people. I think itís
It plays more like a romantic comedy than a sitcom, per se, even though
it has some of the physical comedy that some of the classic sitcoms
have. Weíre telling stories that are not purely comedic. I really
believe that you end up caring about these characters. I think that for
me thatís what has brought me into loving shows. But, obviously I just
think that if I like it, then probably, hopefully somebody else will.
Moderator Now, we go to the line of Alicia Tamile with
A. Tamile You have so much going on. So, Iím just curious how do you
juggle everything? How do you manage to unwind or de-stress at the end
of the day?
Z. Deschanel I donít. I go to sleep. At the end of the day, I basically
eat and learn my lines at the same time. Itís really just trying to
multi-task as best I can. Sometimes, you have to scramble to get stuff
done, or a lot of times you have to scramble to get stuff done.
But, I really love it because I love being busy. Iím a person who has a
lot of energy. So, yes, I donít really stop to rest or de-stress. I just
keep going. I figure that if you donít stop, then youíll never notice
how tired you are.
Moderator We have time for one final question. Thatíll come from Lisa
Steinberg with Starry Constellation.
L. Steinberg Jess has been described by the network as adorkable. Is
Z. Deschanel I donít know. Thatís sort of like an outside in
description. I donít really talk to people when they say stuff about
themselves. I can be like well, Iím the type of person who blah, blah,
blah, blah, blah. I wouldnít trust myself. I donít know. Letís say this:
Thereís a lot of Jess that is very much like me.
I feel like I understand her very well. I feel like she is very much
like I was when I was 13. I was not the coolest kid in my class. I feel
like that inner dork is a wonderful thing to have. And, on behalf of
middle-schoolers all around, I like to represent.
So, yes, I donít know. I definitely have a part of myself is a lot like
Jess. So, Iíll leave it at that. But, I donít know if Iíd describe
myself as particularly adorkable. I donít know.
T. Adair All right. Thank you everyone for participating in the call
today. Zooey, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do
Z. Deschanel Thank you.
T. Adair As a reminder, New Girl premieres on Tuesday, September 20th at
9/8 Central following the third season premiere of Glee.
Z. Deschanel Thank you. Okay, bye. Thanks, guys.
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