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#224. Zooey Deschanel

While a lot of actors and actresses have been typecast in a particular role, very few of them have had the opportunity to change their typecasting. Long before Aubrey Plaza perfected the deadpan supporting character, Zooey Deschanel was given this typecast position in a variety of films. That being said, Deschanel was not pleased with playing these characters, as she was only performing to the role as it was written: a cliché representation of friends and family members used to offset the main character of the film. As such, the Zooey Deschanel we know today is actually, more often than not, associated with the “quirky girl” typecast. While this typecasting has been poked fun at, Deschanel seems content to continue portraying this typecast. This week’s two films cover the two typecasts of Zooey Deschanel.

(500) Days of Summer(500) Days of Summer
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours

Early on in her acting career, Deschanel had quite a few bit parts, often cast alongside or opposite actors of a similar age. In fact, some of these actors were born in the same place as Zooey: Los Angeles. From The Good Girl (2002) with Jake Gyllenhaal to Manic (2001) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Deschanel and her actor counterparts began building their careers. Due to the closeness in age to each other, it was no wonder that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel would again be cast in the romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer. While this was not her first leading role, her portrayal of Summer Finn really set her apart from her previous typecasting. Partly due to this movie’s success, Zooey Deschanel has become a household name, propelling her into the lead of the television show, New Girl.

Upon starting a new job in (of all places) Los Angeles as the assistant to a manager at a greeting card company, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) catches the eye of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one of the writers who works under her boss. Even though she has no plans to obtain a boyfriend, and she has told Tom that she does not believe in true love, they inevitably grow closer. Many months into the relationship, they have their first fight, leading to an inevitable breakup. Despite having left her job in this aftermath, Summer and Tom attend a co-worker’s wedding, wherein she catches the bouquet. This superstitious event is quite telling, as she invites Tom to her engagement party shortly after arriving home. Many years later, the two meet again and discuss the gap in their communication, and how her thoughts on love have since changed. With their relationship finalized, Tom soon moves on to his first love: architecture.

Year: 2003
Rating: PG
Length: 97 minutes / 1.62 hours

The first movie where Zooey Deschanel’s role stuck with me was most definitely The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), wherein she portrayed Tricia Marie McMillan (or “Trillian” for short). While this role was definitely on the path toward her “quirky girl” typecast, mostly due to the quirkiness of the entire film, the real turning point away from the deadpan supporting character was her role in the modern Christmas classic, Elf. If anything, this was once again due to the overwhelming oddity of the main character of the film, portrayed ably by Will Ferrell. That being said, one of Deschanel’s other talents is that of music. As half of the musical duo known as “She & Him”, many know Zooey by her ukulele songs. This is a fortunate talent, considering it comes into play in the character development of Jovie, Deschanel’s character in Elf, even if it was not in the original script.

Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) is a woman down on her luck. Working as an elf in a New York department store, she’s barely getting by, resorting to showering at the store before her shift. Like many, she enjoys singing in the shower, which gives her a shock when she finds Buddy (Will Ferrell) listening to her one day. While he immediately falls in love with her, she is curious how a grown man in his own elf outfit can be so dedicated to the seasonal role. Something in his genuine innocence sets him apart and she eventually agrees to go on a date with him. Of course, the only way he managed to gain the courage to ask her out was after he accidentally got drunk on some whisky that belonged to his co-worker. In a sudden surprise, Jovie and Buddy find that Santa’s sleigh has crashed, and the only thing to restore it is Christmas spirit. Jovie sings on live TV and soon Santa is back on track to complete his Christmas deliveries.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 zany Zooey Deschanel performances

Bacon #: 2 (The New Guy / Illeana Douglas -> Stir of Echoes / Kevin Bacon)


One response to “#224. Zooey Deschanel

  1. Pingback: End of Act Five | Cinema Connections

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