Zooey Deschanel (born January 17, 1980) is an American actress,
musician and singer-songwriter. Deschanel made her film debut in 1999's
Mumford and soon became known for memorable, deadpan supporting roles in
films such as Almost Famous (2000) and The New Guy (2002). She then began
playing lead roles, including All the Real Girls (2003), Elf (2003), Winter
Passing (2005), Tin Man (2007) and Yes Man (2008).
Since 2001, Zooey Deschanel has performed in the jazz cabaret act If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies with fellow actress Samantha Shelton. She plays the piano, percussion, xylophone, banjo and ukulele. She has sung in several of her films, and her debut album Volume One (recorded with M. Ward under the moniker She & Him) was released on March 18, 2008. It has evoked strong positive reactions from critics.
Zooey was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Academy Award-nominated cinematographer and director Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel (née Weir). She is of Irish and French descent. She was named after Zooey Glass, the male protagonist of J. D. Salinger's 1961 novella Franny and Zooey. Her older sister Emily is also an actress and stars in the TV series Bones.
Deschanel lived in Los Angeles, but spent much of her childhood traveling because her father shot films on location; she later said that she "hated all the traveling...I'm really happy now that I had the experience, but at the time I was just so miserable to have to leave my friends in Los Angeles and go to places where they didn't have any food I liked or things I was used to."She attended Crossroads, a private preparatory school in Santa Monica, California, where she befriended future co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson. She also attended the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts summer camp and sang throughout high school, planning to pursue a career in musical theatre. Zooey Deschanel attended Northwestern University for seven months before dropping out to work as an actress.
Zooey and M. Ward performing as She & Him at the Newport Folk Festival (2 August 2008)Deschanel appeared in a guest role on the television series Veronica's Closet before making her film debut in Lawrence Kasdan’s 1999 comedy Mumford, and later in the year she appeared in the music video for The Offspring's single "She's Got Issues". In her second film, director Cameron Crowe's autobiographical Almost Famous (2000), Deschanel played Anita Miller, the protagonist's rebellious older sister. The film received critical praise, but was not a box office success. Deschanel continued to sing, and in 2001 formed If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies, a jazz cabaret act with fellow actress Samantha Shelton. The pair perform around Los Angeles.
Zooey played supporting roles in a series of films that included Manic (2001), Big Trouble (2002), Abandon (2002), and The Good Girl (2002). In late 2002, The New York Times reported that Deschanel was "one of Hollywood's most sought-after young stars," and the Los Angeles Times wrote in early 2003 that Deschanel had become a recognizable type, due to "her deadpan, sardonic and scene-stealing film performances" as the protagonist's best friend. Deschanel objected to her typecasting, arguing, "A lot of these roles are just a formula idea of somebody's best friend, and it's like, I don't even have that many friends. In high school, I stayed home all the time, so I don't know how I'm everybody's best friend now."
Zooey turned down several supporting roles and played her first lead role in All the Real Girls (2003). Deschanel's performance as Noel, a sexually curious 18-year-old virgin who has a life-changing romance with an aimless 22-year-old, received critical praise, and she received an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Actress. Later in 2003, Deschanel played a deadpan department store worker opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy Elf, which became a box office hit.
In 2002, Zooey appeared in The New Guy as Nora, the guitar player in the lead character's band, Suburban Funk. The New Guy was the first of Deschanel's films in which she sang onscreen; in Elf she duetted with Ferrell in the bathroom shower scene on "Baby, It's Cold Outside", and was also heard singing it on the soundtrack with Leon Redbone. Subsequently, Deschanel has sung in Winter Passing ("My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean"), the 2005 television musical Once Upon a Mattress ("An Opening For a Princess," "In a Little While," "Normandy," and "Yesterday I Loved You"), an old cabaret song in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the 2007 short film Raving ("Hello, Dolly!"). Her piano composition "Bittersuite" was used thematically in the dark, off-beat 2004 dramedy Winter Passing, in which she starred alongside Ferrell and Ed Harris.
In 2004, Zooey starred in Eulogy, and in 2005 as Trillian in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' science fiction novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Deschanel then played Sarah Jessica Parker's neurotic roommate in Failure to Launch (2006), and appeared on four episodes of the Showtime television series Weeds from 2006 to 2007, playing Andy Botwin's quirky ex-girlfriend, Kat. In September 2006, Variety announced that Deschanel would play 1960s singer Janis Joplin in the film The Gospel According to Janis, to be co-written and directed by Penelope Spheeris. Deschanel planned to sing all of Joplin's songs, and took four months of singing lessons "to approximate Joplin's gritty vocals."The film, scheduled to begin shooting on November 13, 2006, was postponed indefinitely.
In 2007, Zooey appeared in two children's films, Bridge to Terabithia and the animated film Surf's Up, in which she voiced a penguin named Lani Aliikai. In December 2007, she played DG, the lead in the new Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man, a re-imagined science fiction version of L. Frank Baum's children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
In March 2007, Zooey Deschanel contributed vocals to two songs "Slowly" and "Ask Her To Dance" on the album Nighttiming by Jason Schwartzman's band Coconut Records. In May 2007, singer/songwriter M. Ward, who had previously performed with Zooey Deschanel onstage, said that he was "just finishing work" on her debut album, which will feature songs written by Deschanel and produced by Ward. Fox reported that Zooey Deschanel and Ward were recording under the moniker She & Him, and that the album, titled Volume One, would be released by Merge Records on March 18, 2008.
On April 27, 2008, she appeared on The Simpsons, playing the role of Mary, Cletus's daughter.
In June 2008, Deschanel starred opposite Mark Wahlberg in M. Night Shyamalan's environmental thriller The Happening.
Deschanel stars and sings in the 2008 comedy Yes Man, opposite Jim Carrey.
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