News Column

Zooey Deschanel Says 'New Girl' Character To Face New Challenges

Sept. 25, 2012

Rita Sherrow

Zooey Deschanel

She may not have won the Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series Sunday night, but Zooey Deschanel sure stole the hearts of TV viewers as the "adorkable" Jess Day in the hit Fox comedy "New Girl" last season. The series returns for its second season with two new episodes.

Last season, Jess, an elementary school teacher, caught her live-in boyfriend cheating and moved out of his house. She found an apartment on Craigslist and ended up rooming with three single men -- heartbroken Nick (Jake Johnson), narcissistic Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and athlete Winston (Lamorne Morris). All strictly platonic, of course. Luckily, she had her best friend, fashion model Cece (Hannah Simone), to help her deal with the situation.

This season, Jess has to cope with losing her job, Deschanel said in a recent teleconference.

"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 is definitely a blow to her. But I like how Jess is sort of open to new things and, although she is upset about it, she throws herself into finding a new job and is pretty positive about things -- which is a quality I like in the character."

It's a quality that viewers also like. Jess is a combination of cuteness, innocence, naivety, optimism, big-heartedness and dorkiness. She's also the kind of twentysomething who naturally picks herself up, dusts herself off and starts all over again, probably singing those lyrics at the same time.

Fans also love the relationship between the roommates. It's a great take on modern male-female nonrelationship relationships. The inevitable question is: Will she and Nick ever get together? (Nick is the roomie who was so heartbroken over his breakup with his girlfriend that he dropped out of law school and became a bartender.)

"There's no danger of that happening," Deschanel said. "I think that they are not ready for each other, and nobody is going to push them together. ... I think it's a nice sort of love-hate-love relationship they have. But they're not going to throw them together anytime soon."

Last season, the character's "adorkable" factor was perhaps higher because of the upheaval in her life. She had to get over the old boyfriend, find a new boyfriend, be sexy to try to keep a boyfriend and try to make friends with a boyfriend's ex-wife. And then there was that whole party bus incident. None of which seemed to work out.

This season, there's a natural evolution, said the star.

"One, at the beginning of last year, I always said this: 'She's not going to always be in the same heightened state that she is in the pilot because in that situation she's just gone through a crisis.' Now, if it were a movie, you might just see a slice of her life. But it's a TV show, so they stretch it out.

"You see somebody in a lot of different situations, and she gets confident, more confident, changes and she bawls and grows up a lot over the season. She is just like how somebody in a crazy heightened sense of reality would be.

"... Here's the other thing. I'm watching every week and seeing what's working. I'm using my own sensibilities to inform how I play the character. So if I'm thinking something seems like too much, the next time we do something like that I am going to pull back a little bit. I think all of us are doing that."

Also expect a whole slew of guest stars coming this season including Niecy Nash, Rachael Harris, Raymond J. Barry, Parker Posey, Carla Gugino and Dale Murphy. And viewers will meet Jess' parents (played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner) in the Thanksgiving episode.

"We talked about a bunch of people (to play her parents), and these were just beyond my wildest dreams," said Deschanel. "They're people that I think would be just so perfect. I can't wait to start shooting with them." Zooey facts Zooey Deschanel, 32, is a jazz singer. She wrote and performed the "New Girl" theme song. She also performs with guitarist and songwriter M. Ward as indie pop group She & Him.

Her sister is Emily Deschanel, star of Fox's "Bones." They are the daughters of noted cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel, known for her role as Doc Hayward's wife in "Twin Peaks."

She favors vintage clothing and has worn her own clothes on the show.

She will be a guest voice on "The Simpsons" on Fox. She also wrote and performed two songs for animated series' upcoming episodes.

Source: (c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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