Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
"It Girl" or under-the-radar independent spirit?
Zooey Deschanel has enjoyed the best of both worlds.
On the one hand, she's made a name for herself in big-budget films such as "Elf" and "The Happening." On the other hand, she made fans from less-publicized turns in "(500) Days of Summer" and "Almost Famous" (not to mention her work with M. Ward in the indie band She & Him).
Is one description better than the other?
"It's good being both," Deschanel says. "I always think of myself, in my mind, I always think of myself as an underdog type. But, I've been called 'It Girl' so many times - at different points in my career. So, I guess 'It Girl' is sort of a flexible term. I mean, either one; I just like working and having a job. It's nice."
The "It Girl" is now the "New Girl." Deschanel stars in FOX's highly touted new sitcom, which debuts tonight at 9 p.m., following the season premiere of "Glee."
If the series lives up to billing, "New Girl" is bound to propel Deschanel into the A-List Hollywood stratosphere. The actress has recently graced the cover of New York magazine and made appearances on late night talk shows including "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" promoting "New Girl."
"I like that I have a show that the network is really behind and that is really fun to work on. So, I'm just happy," Deschanel says.
In "New Girl," the actress plays Jess, a newly single, loveable-yet-socially awkward woman living with and seeking advice from her guy friends.
"I think that she's starting a whole new life. She's been in one mode for a really long time. She's 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 she's with the same guy for a long time," Deschanel says. "I think, more specifically than generally, these guys are helping her get over this experience, but not just that. It's not just getting over the break-up. It's also finding her way in a new life being a single woman in her late 20s."
Deschanel says the role appeals to her because, "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."
While Deschanel says she wasn't necessarily looking to work on television, she found "New Girl," ironically, had the "It" factor.
"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 hadn't seriously considered any television shows before, but this was just too great to pass up," she says.
"New Girl" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX. Find the show online at http://www.fox.com/new-girl/.