Awkwardly adorable and oh-so-relatable, Zooey Deschanel is a breath of fresh air as Jess on Fox's New Girl. At 34, she's a movie vet (Elf, (500) Days Of Summer) and second-generation showbiz royalty — she's the daughter of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel (Twin Peaks), and sister Emily stars in Bones.
Mum about her off-screen love life — she finalized her divorce from Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard in 2012 — Deschanel was eager to talk about Jess, her on-screen romance and a certain A-list guest star.
YourTango: You had Prince on the show recently, a major coup. How did that happen?
Zooey Deschanel: He started emailing us last year, saying he wanted to be on the show, and it seemed too good to be true. I talked to him about some stuff before he came and he was like, "New Girl is my favorite show. I watch it every week. I watch that and the news." We just got really lucky. He was great. He was really professional, really nice, really polite, got everything in one or two takes, knew his lines really well. He was very sweet to everybody. He has a mystique about him that is 'Prince' but also he's just a really nice guy. I loved him!
YourTango: Are there things you can do as Jess that you wouldn't in real life?
Zooey Deschanel: I love playing all the classic situation comedy, that sort of farcical stuff, the heightened reality. I like doing big comedic-like pratfalls and physical comedy. That is really fun for me.
YourTango: What do you think of the Jess and Nick relationship? Where is it headed?
Zooey Deschanel: I thought it was really exciting when we got together. I liked that they put us together. In some ways I wasn't sure how they were going to accomplish them being in a relationship, but I think our writers have done a really amazing job of keeping it fun and exciting. They didn't want to put them together and tear them apart immediately. They want them to have at least some sort of a relationship.
YourTango: What are you watching on TV?
Zooey Deschanel: I love Girls, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
YourTango: Are you an Olympics fan?
Zooey Deschanel: I always get excited about the Olympics. So cool. I'm a little more of a summer Olympics person but I like ice skating. I took ice skating lessons when I was a little girl.
YourTango: New Girl aside, what are your favorite projects you've done?
Zooey Deschanel: There are a lot of them. (500) Days Of Summer was a really great experience. This movie All the Real Girls; I did [it] a long time ago, [it's] one of my favorite movies I've ever done.
YourTango: What about your music career? What's the latest on She & Him?
Zooey Deschanel: I toured for a full year in 2010. It was never a sideline project. We're always making new music and we put out a record in May called Volume 3. I go back and forth between that and acting. It's like one can't exist without the other.
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Photo: Alexei Hay/FOX