4:00pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'New Girl' Star Zooey Deschanel Talks Season 4, She & Him and Pregnancy Discretion
A lot of big news has come out of New Girl lately. On camera, viewers can expect to bid adieu to actor Damon Wayans Jr. (again) at the season's end. And behind the scenes, star Zooey Deschanel announced she's expecting the arrival of her first child.
The latter obviously will not work its way into the series' narrative — despite how serious things appear to be getting between Jess and recurring love interest Ryan (Julian Morris) — though, when Deschanel recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, she expressed that the extent of how much she'll have to conceal her pregnancy remains up in the air until filming is completed in a few weeks.
So as the series enters the final stretch of its fourth season, the actress chatted about what's changed most for her since taking it on as her full-time job, the fleeting nature of sitcom romance and the different approach she took to recording her latest album with longtime collaborator M. Ward.
What's changed most for you since getting to the fourth season?
We all really know our characters so well now, and it makes it easier. Sometimes I'll be looking at a script and realize they accidentally gave me a Schmidt line. You can tell when you get somebody else's joke — just the personality reads differently. The other day, I thought, "This is a Cece line; give it to Hannah [Simone]." There's a shorthand to it that's pretty nice. And I think there are certain types of scenes that we're all very used to doing now. They're not the fun ones, they're the ones with exposition, and those, we just sort of get through now. The really fun part of the show is shooting all of the character stuff in the middle of the episodes.
Last season started taking a more serious turn at this point.
There have been some really funny ones we've shot toward the end of the season. I think after four years, we've gone through so many storylines that we can just sort of experiment and have fun with it.
Was it at all strange getting used to working less with Jake [Johnson] after last season?
The Nick character really takes one of two directions, and he almost has a dual personality. Where he's at right now, it doesn't even matter that we're not together. All of the stuff in the third season was really great, and I think we spent a lot of time on it. But we're all happy to be going in a less heavy direction right now. It's fun for me. I like playing nonromantic storylines best, to be honest.
Do you feel like it's possible for Jess to be in a serious, stable relationship on the show?
I think what we have kind of established, just from living and breathing this for four years, is that what works in this show is that these characters can't quite get it right. And that's what we enjoy watching. That's what I like watching happen to Jess in any situation. She has the best intentions, and then she really misses the mark and things just spiral. I think any relationship she gets in is to show she's broken. I don't think any of the characters are going to find any sort of permanent love situation until the show is ending. The show is about people who haven't figured it out.
What can you say about the upcoming wedding episode when Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis will return?
Jamie and Rob are just such fun, genuinely lovely people to be around. Also, Kaitlin Olson is now playing my new stepmom. It's a fun episode for me because it's classic Jess trying to be a good person, get it right and really mess everything up in the process.
Congratulations on your big news! Do you think you're going to have to hide behind lamps by the finale?
Thank you! It's hard to know until we finish the season. Right now, I'm only showing a little bit, so it's pretty easy to still hide in clothes. Maybe, eventually, I'll have to stand behind a couch or walk around carrying a purse.
Your latest She & Him album, Classics, is covers — did you have to leave off any standards that you wanted on there?
That was the thing! I had a laundry list of 100 songs. I love standards. People laugh because I'm kind of an old man in that respect. We like finding stuff in the studio. We did that on our Christmas album, too, which we recorded in six days. It was sort of like, "Do you know this song?" and then we'd just figure them out on the fly. We really liked the spontaneity of that. So half of the songs [on Classics] we did with a live orchestra. For those, we had to plan out and make arrangements. I think we only had two to three takes with any song, and we used live vocals on everything. I didn't overdub on anything, which I like, because we left the door to my vocal booth open so that the strings bled into my mic. It had that old-school, warm feeling. Now, we live in an age where people chop up a song, word for word, and you don't have any thorough line. We wanted to do it the old way, where you couldn't fix anything. I had to be really on point.