Zooey Deschanel, Liz Meriwether: Meet the women behind ‘New Girl’

Zooey Deschanel stars as Jess in “New Girl,” airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Due to the MLB playoffs, this week’s new episode will air tomorrow at 9:30 p.m.

Jess, the titular “New Girl” in Fox’s new hit comedy, is one of a kind — she off-handedly references “Lord of the Rings,” constantly sings to herself and does this little “hubba hubba” thing with her glasses when she sees a cute guy. But bringing Jess to life took the work of two quirky kindred spirits, “New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel and series creator Liz Meriwether.

The women could be sisters. At a press event before the show’s premiere, the pair both dress in a sophisticated-cool, “oh, I just found this at the vintage shop” style, exchanging rapid-fire compliments that make the other equally excited and adorably embarrassed.

“Liz and I are, like, connected. So when your souls are connected, you’re meant to do a show together,” Deschanel says.

“I didn’t think I could, you know, find somebody that’s as weird as I am,” Meriwether interjects. “The first time that she came in [to audition], the second she opened her mouth, everybody was, like, ‘This is a perfect match of character and actress.’”

“When I read it,” Deschanel adds, not missing a beat, “I was like, ‘I obviously need to play this part. This is me.’ I mean, not actually me, but it is a part of me, a secret part. … And if there’s any character I want to play forever and ever and ever, it’s this one. High five, Liz.”

“Ah, I’m going to cry,” Meriwether answers.

With a song in her heart:?Why Jess can’t stop singing

Zooey Deschanel’s other gig is as one half of the band She & Him (she sings and plays piano and ukulele). Music plays a big part in “New Girl” — the theme to “Dirty Dancing” is featured in the pilot episode, and Jess often breaks out into little ditties. But don’t expect to see Jess auditioning for an “X Factor”-like show in an upcoming episode.

“Jess is not a singer because she … thinks she’s, like, a great singer,” Deschanel explains. “It’s just part of how she expresses herself.”

“She sings when she doesn’t know what to say,” series creator Liz Meriwether adds. “We kind of play with it, like she likes to sing in different styles depending upon her mood and the moment.”

Examples? “Ethel Merman, a little jazz standard, a little heavy metal,” Deschanel hints.

The plot

Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, a smart, goofy girl who moves in with three guys after a bad breakup. The men welcome their new roomie in a little sister kind of way, trying to help her tone down her dorky tendencies and get back in the dating game.
   
“[Jess is] someone who expresses her emotions all the time … which I think is a really great contrast with the other characters, who are less in touch with their emotions,” Deschanel says. “A lot of the comedy comes out of that juxtaposition.”


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