Beautiful geek: New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel ...
ZOOEY Deschanel, 31, is a seasoned actress who has logged mainstream credits ( Elf, Yes Man) as well as the art-house fare ( Almost Famous, (500) Days of Summer,
Our Idiot Brother) with which she is more closely identified.
Deschanel comes from showbiz stock that includes her Oscar-nominated cinematographer father, Caleb, her actress mother, Mary Jo, and sister Emily, who stars on the long-running crime series Bones.
She is mega-pretty with her raven fringe, creamy skin and blue eyes that seem in a state of perpetual surprise.
A refreshingly normal person sparked by an endearingly iconoclastic style, she reigns with indie cred: film dom’s ‘‘altheroine’’, as New York magazine put it in a recent Deschanel cover story. She is, however, confronting the prospect of big-time stardom on a big-time network TV hit, New Girl.
On the show, she plays Jess Day, a schoolteacher who is goofy, good- natured and unguarded in her dealings with the world, particularly tone-deaf with respect to men. When she catches her boyfriend in their apartment with another woman, she bolts for new quarters that she finds online, on Craigslist. It is a spacious loft she will share with three guys (played by Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and, replacing Damon Wayans Jr, after the pilot, Lamorne Morris) who, despite their reservations, welcome her as surrogate big brothers.
Jess is the sort of gal who sings to herself her own theme song (‘‘Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!’’); mourns her breakup by watching Dirty Dancing while she blubbers a half-dozen times a day; sets her hair on fire with her curling iron; and greets a strange man in a bar with, ‘‘Hey, sailor!’’
‘‘Well, I guess I can’t hide my crazy,’’ Jess laments to one of her roomies after her latest foible.
For New Girl to succeed, the viewer must believe that a beautiful girl can also be such a dork that her social life and well-being are routinely upended.
‘‘Here’s the thing: You can be a nerd and be awkward, and be attractive at the same time,’’ Deschanel says.
‘‘Jess is a person who spent six years with the same guy. She’s not a dater. And now she’s being put out there in a way she’s never been before. She’s a little bit guileless and tries to see the best in people,’’ Deschanel laughs, ‘‘and you know that always goes wrong!
‘‘She’s different from me in some ways, but there’s a part of myself that really is her: 13-year-old me was very much Jess – optimistic, excited all the time.
‘‘I made a career being cast as smartaleck-type characters, but I’m not sarcastic at all. I’m not ironic. I’m very sincere, generally. So this role played into a part of myself that I hadn’t been using on the screen.’’
stars Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel and Lamorne Morris.