Zooey Deschanel, button-eyed and unflaggingly earnest, has always occupied a whimsical niche just on the outskirts of mainstream Hollywood. But thanks to her starring role as Jess, the lovably dweeby main character on New Girl, everyone’s favourite indie sweetheart (and our May 2011 cover model) has been christened the fall TV season’s “It Girl.” Deschanel herself can’t quite believe it. “In my mind, I always think of myself as an underdog type,” she explained in a conference call last Thursday.
The series was dreamed up by No Strings Attached scribe Liz Meriwether. “It’s nice to be on a show that was created by a woman, starring a woman,” Deschanel said, claiming that it made possible “a little bit more intimacy… with the character.” Intimacy, indeed: in the pilot’s opening scene, Jess does a clumsy striptease for her boyfriend while belting out an improvised theme song about herself, only to find out—the hard way—that he’s cheating on her.
In promos for the show, Fox has branded Jess with the slightly cringe-worthy tagline “Simply Adorkable.” When asked if the moniker applies, Deschanel doesn’t answer with a resounding yes—who would?—but acknowledges that she does “understand” the character at a personal level. “I feel like she is very much like I was when I was 13,” she says. “I was not the coolest kid in my class. I feel like that inner dork is a wonderful thing to have. And, on behalf of middle-schoolers all around, I like to represent.” -Allison Friedman
New Girl premieres Tuesday, September 20 at 9 PM/ 8MT/CT on Citytv. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC_-vGlcK6U