Exclusive Interview: Zooey Deschanel on ‘New Girl’ Season 3

We have a very special, personal, intimate one-on-one with the star of “New Girl” about the show’s first two hit seasons and the upcoming third season.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Zooey Deschanel and I have had a special professional relationship for several years now. Ever since I thanked her for helping me through my (500) Days of Diane, she’s remembered me every time she’s come to the Television Critics Association to promote “New Girl.”

This summer, I somehow found her sitting by herself and got a short exclusive interview all to myself. When it was over, other journalists told me they had never seen her as animated as she was while talking to me, which I believe because of the way we connected. I’ll toot my own horn a bit, but also share credit with her because she made it an extra special point to be personal and sincere. So I include our entire banter so you can see what Zooey Deschanel is really like in person, and read our talk about “New Girl” which comes back next week on Fox. 


Zooey Deschanel: How are you?

CraveOnline: I’m good. I’m having a great year.

Oh good. I like your suit. 

Thank you very much.

What’s going on this year?

I feel like I’ve been having the best interviews I’ve ever done. 

Just tonight?

This whole year. I can tell the way I’m connecting with people, we’re getting good stuff.

I have done interviews with you for I can’t even think how many years.

Do you think one of our previous interviews was the best interview I’ve ever done?

Well, I’m just insulted.

Let’s make THIS the best interview I’ve ever done. 

Tell me, what’s your favorite though?

My interview with Winona Ryder this year was pretty phenomenal. 

Very interesting. Did something interesting happen during the interview?

Yes, it started with her liking the notebook I was using. Then when I started asking about her classic movies, she really responded to the angle I was taking. It really opened her up.

It’s true that if you take certain angles, you will actually get someone talking, whereas if you go another route, it really can shut people up. It’s interesting.

I’ve been thinking about those movies all my life.

So you have a lot to say about them. That’s fantastic. 

I’ve been watching your show for two years and can you believe in two years, you’ve already done two big wedding episodes?

It’s funny, we shot them in the same hotel. It’s really close to where we shoot, but two really fun episodes.

The first wedding was only your third episode and it was such a fan favorite. Did you feel like you had to top it with the wedding of one of the main characters? 

That’s an interesting question. There was no topping the wedding episode. There was just adding to it really. I think of the show as a little sculpture. We’re just adding clay to every episode. Some pieces of clay are better than other pieces of clay. 

Were you happy with the way the Nick and Jess dating story went?

Yeah, when Nick and Jess got together is where I really felt this season last year just gel. It’s like the season came together when they got together. For a while, it felt we were in a little bit of a holding pattern where they were keeping us apart purposefully. Then when they put us together, it was like all the possibilities sort of were laid out before us and we could do so many different things. Once you put them together, you can pull them apart, you can twist them around, throw ‘em up in the air, do so many different things.

Do you feel you’ve exhausted all those possibilities now?

Oh no. No, no, no. I think we’ve just begun.

Where do they go in season three?

Well, we’re starting shooting on Monday. Basically Nick and Jess go to Mexico and get in a little bit of trouble. 

In the first date episode, did you have to think of three different ways to jaywalk?

[Laughs] That’s interesting. No. It happened at different spots. Once in front of the car, once in back of the car…. It was interesting because the gentleman who played the cop, he’s a great guy. He’s actually a writer on “Conan.” It was written like a very angry cop and he came, he was so nice, he had the greatest energy and they were like, “Why don’t we play one where he’s really nice?” He did it so funny, sometimes an episode is really built around the things that happen in the moment. There was an example of a performance totally sort of changing the tack. 

I love the running gag of that. Once it happened the second time, I was waiting for the third one.

You knew there had to be a third one. 

By season three, do you have more of a handle on who Jess is?

I think she changes, or she evolves really. She started out very vulnerable and a little bit of an oddball. I think she got a lot stronger and a lot more tough I think in the second season. I really like that quality they brought out of her. I think different qualities are brought out in the different characters based on the situations they’re in. It’s fun to evolve with the character.

Have you figured out which combinations of pairings work best for the comedy? Nick and Jess, Jess and Schmidt, etc.

I think it all brings out different things. I really like it when we have the core cast together, like I think the parking spot episode was a really good example of the cast really being used very well. 

She & Him just had a new album last year. When do you start doing music again?

Well, I did music all hiatus so I just stopped. I was on tour my hiatus.

On tour with the new album. When would you start composing new music?

Whenever I sort of feel the urge. It’s something I do on weekends and middle of the night. Maybe tomorrow. Usually when I stop a tour is when I start writing again.

What has it meant for you to be in the Fox family?

It’s been really great. First of all, I really like the cast of all the shows. I’ve been really fortunate to meet all of them. Our team, like marketing and all the executives and the people heading all the department are truly so intelligent and so supportive of our show that I feel really lucky to be here because I don’t know if we would have the show that we have without all of our creative fodder. 

Do you think you might go on “HitRECord” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

Yes, I would love to. It’s hard to know when I’ll have time, but yeah, I would love to.

Was this the best interview we’ve ever done?

Absolutely! I think you’re killing it. Go do more amazing interviews! 

 

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