Listen to Zooey Deschanel talk about everything she’s doing and you wonder when she ever sleeps.
The veteran actress, 31, who has starred in such hits as “Elf” and “(500) Days of Summer,” is headlining a new TV show (Fox’s “The New Girl,” debuting Sept. 20).
A gifted musician, Deschanel can be heard on the “Winnie the Pooh” soundtrack with her band, She & Him, and she also has a Christmas album coming. And there’s more: Deschanel plays Natalie in the new comedy “Our Idiot Brother,” which stars Paul Rudd as the kindhearted sibling of three tightly wound, neurotic sisters (Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer). The film opens Friday.
When you step onto a set with so much talent, is there any pressure to raise your game? I feel like I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of really talented people in my career, so it didn’t feel weird or something. It’s not like I’ve been working with a bunch of hacks most of the time [laughs].
How do you approach a comedy like this, which is funny and simultaneously truthful and sad? I’ve always approached comedy this way, and I think that there are varying degrees, but finding the truth in [comic] moments and trying to have a basic logic to how your character works — that’s an important tool.
What led you to take a starring television role? I just never get roles that good. When I read the script for “New Girl,” it’s just rare that you see a female role carrying a lot of the weight of the show, [someone] who is weird and out there and gets to be the “funny man” in a lot of it.
What keeps you passionate about your music? That’s a really important thing to me, because I’ve been playing music all my life. I love the control that I get to have, and it just being Matt [M. Ward], my bandmate and producer, and I, really ... most of the time in the studio.
What movies do you hear about most from fans? Definitely “Elf.” It’s funny — when I read that script, I knew it was going to be a classic. … “(500) Days of Summer” has been a movie that, for sure, made an impact. … Those are probably the two — and “Almost Famous.”