Zooey Claire Deschanel is an American actress, musician and singer-songwriter. In 1999, Deschanel made her film debut in Mumford, followed by her breakout role as young protagonist William Miller's troubled older sister Anita in Cameron Crowe's 2000 semi-autobiographical film Almost Famous. Deschanel soon became known for her deadpan or "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" supporting roles in films such as Elf, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Failure to Launch, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Happening. She then began playing lead roles in films, including Yes Man and 500 Days of Summer. She currently stars in the Fox series New Girl. She has been nominated for Golden Globe and Grammy awards.
For a few years starting in 2001, Deschanel performed in the jazz cabaret act If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies with fellow actress Samantha Shelton. Besides singing, she plays keyboards, percussion, banjo and ukulele. She also often sings in her films. Deschanel teamed up with M. Ward to release their debut album Volume One which was released in March 2008. The follow-up album Volume Two was released in the U.S. in March 2010. She married Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard in September 2009; the two separated in November 2011. She portrays the main character of New Girl, Jessica Day.
Zooey Deschanel was born in 1980 into a showbiz family. Her father, Caleb Deschanel is an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer and her mother, Mary Jo Deschanel is an actress who starred in "Twin Peaks". Driven from an early age to become a successful actress, Zooey got her big break aged 17 playing a model in TV sitcom "Veronica's Closet". She got her first film role the following year in Mumford, which prompted her to quit university to pursue acting full-time. Mostly thanks to a role in Cameron Crowe's popular biopic, Almost Famous, Zooey's rise to fame has been steadily increasing as the 21st century wears on. Her distinctive acting style found her critical acclaim in 2003 when she was voted Best Actress at the Mar Del Plata Film Festival for her role in David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls. She also gained a Best Female Lead nomination at the following year's Independent Spirit Awards, but lost out to Charlize Theron.
Zooey is often compared to golden era Hollywood starlets and is also a talented singer. She has said in interviews that she believes her singing ability was pivotal in gaining the role of Jovie in Elf. She also sang in the Disney-produced musical, Once Upon a Mattress.
- Named for the male character in J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey".
- Daughter of Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel.
- Went to high school with her Almost Famous co-star Kate Hudson.
- Younger sister of actress Emily Deschanel.
- Graduated from Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica.
- She spent several summers at camp upstate New York at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts. She was also featured in the video for The Offspring's song "She's Got Issues" and the accompanying MTV documentary The Offspring Complete Music Video Collection. She also plays ukulele for the band 'If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies'.
- Attended Northwestern University for one year, but dropped out.
- Is a big fan of actress Parker Posey.
- Interests include jazz singing, philosophy, fashion and photography.
- Did her own singing in the movie Elf (2003).
- Plays the piano and the baritone ukulele.
- Has performed with Jackson Nash's comedy group, Manifest Destinyfest.
- Turned down a role in Bully (2001) to star in Big Trouble (2002).
- Loves Ella Fitzgerald.
- Is part of the cabaret group called 'If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies'.
- She pronounces her name "ZOH-ee" (not "Zoo-ee").
- Her last name is pronounced "day-shuh-NELL", with "day" slightly more accented than the middle syllable.
- Is part of indie duo called She & Him with M. Ward. Their debut album is called Volume One.
- Ranked #95 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women of 2008 list.
- Engaged to Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.
- Allergic to gluten, dairy, and eggs.
- Was ranked #73 on Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women of 2010 list.
- Sister-in-law of David Hornsby.
- Ranked #39 in the 2011 FHM Australia list of "100 Sexiest Women in the World".