It’s been quite the year for the always luminous Zooey Deschanel, first starring in the hit comedy Yes Man opposite Jim Carrey, now in the Sundance favourite “500 Days of Summer”, a romantic comedy of sorts that dissects a relationship. Add to that an equally successful recording career, a new fiance and the actress/singer has reason to be on top of the world. Paul Fischer caught up with her at Sundance for this exclusive interview.
Question: Tell me about what it was that attracted you to this. I mean, sshe starts out as being a very kind of cynical girl who’s not really interested in romance and love, and all those kinds of things. And these are women that I think you seem to be drawn to. Why is that?
Deschanel: I don’t know. I don’t know, I feel like you can find patterns in things, but they don’t necessarily mean anything. You know what I mean? You can find patterns in things, but it doesn’t mean they hold weight. I don’t think that’s what I was attracted to. I liked the character, because I felt like she was somebody that I could represent well. This was one of these scripts that was so charming, and the dialogue was so great and there were all these interesting ideas in it that I thought could go one of two ways. Either make an incredible impression, and work perfectly on the screen, or they could go wrong if done the wrong way. Like, in the wrong hands, it could turn out not very well. So I just felt like this was somebody I could play, and represent her well.
Question: You’re very picky about the kinds of scripts that you do.
Deschanel: Yeah. Well, I mean, I make mistakes, definitely, but we all have our limitations. There are things I can’t play, like, it is an asset to an actor to know what you’re – not that I don’t want to challenge myself, but I know there are certain things that just don’t – that maybe I would like to think of – I would like to play certain roles. But I know those aren’t the roles I play best and there are certain roles that I think I have a better understanding of. Not that I can’t do some research and stretch myself, but I think there’s a certain essence of certain types of characters, that allow me to understand them and I think it’s whatever excites you, because if you’re not excited about a movie, then you might as well be just at home, because it’s a lot of work, if you’re not excited.
Question: Were you surprised that you said yes to Yes Man? I mean, it seems that something like that, that kind of star-driven big movie, is something that you would normally kind of think about, before just jumping in.
Deschanel: No I was excited about that movie. I like Jim Carrey a lot. Peyton Reed is a great director. I don’t choose films based on whether they’re indie or studio. That’s not something that I think about. I thought it was a really funny script, and so it was, like, pretty much a no-brainer.
Question: Does romantic comedy come easy to you? Is that a genre that you’ve always had an affinity for?
Deschanel: You know, I have to say, over the years – like, I think I’ve learned that that is a genre I like, and I think suits me more than some other genres, definitely. I like making movies about love, and personal relationships.
Deschanel: I don’t know. I think that’s what interests me, and that’s what I understand. Like an action movie, for instance, is not something I relate to as well. That’s not to say, like, ” Oh, I could never do an action movie.” But I just like doing comedies, and I like doing character-driven dramas, and movies about people.
Question: Where did this love of music come from? This love of songwriting, and music?
Deschanel: I’ve been writing music since I was a little kid. I don’t know. It’s, like, a very visceral thing. I always felt, like, sparked alive by music. Always, since I was really small, I always associated filmmaking and music together. I grew up watching musicals, old movie musicals, so I guess I never separated the two until I was a little bit older, and noticed that. I think if you want to be picky about the type of music you do, and the type of movies you do, it’s kind of better to do them separately, until you find something where they’re married, in a way.
Question: Would you do a musical?
Deschanel: I would, if it was good music, and the script was great. But I wouldn’t do it just because I was doing a musical. You know, I’m very picky about the kind of music.
Question: This first album you did was really terrific, so is there gonna be a follow-up? And do you think that the next album would reflect your life in a different way than this debut album did?
Deschanel: You know, I wouldn’t necessarily say it reflects my life. It reflects, like, certain sentiments that I wanted to highlight, but they’re not all personal stories, you know what I mean? I like to tell stories, so I think of it as a story album and you take on different points of view. Most of them are not personal, but my songwriting has definitely changed, matured and evolved a little bit. But we’re working on the second record. I don’t know when it’s going to come out, but we’ve been recording stuff, and working.
Question: You do all your own material?
Deschanel: Yeah. I mean, there are going to be probably a few covers, but mostly my own.
Question: It’s an exciting direction in your life.
Deschanel: It is really exciting. I have so much fun.
Question: Is it hard for you – because you’re also about to tie the knot. So, you’re going to be balancing marriage, you’re going to be balancing a music career, and you’ll be balancing a movie career?
Deschanel: Well, you’re always balancing your personal life.
Question: Was it difficult for you to do that?
Deschanel: No. No.
Question: You always seem to be busy.
Deschanel: I’m very practical. I think – you know, I make time for the things that are important and I recognize what’s important. I think there are a lot of things that people try to convince you are important, but aren’t. I just like to work. I like to make music, and do movies and live my life. I think all those together are totally manageable and especially if you’re choosy about the projects. I mean, I’ve gone through periods of time where I’ve worked a ton, and been extremely busy, but I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m getting pickier. And that feels good. it’s nice to say ” no.” [LAUGHTER] Sometimes.
Question: What are you doing next?
Deschanel: I don’t know. I’m just working on music right now.
Question: So you haven’t shot anything since either of these?
Deschanel: No, this was the last thing I’ve shot. Which was, like, a couple months ago.