Zooey Deschanel on 'romantic' 'New Girl' finale, saving '(500) Days' site

Zooey Deschanel on 'romantic' 'New Girl' finale, saving '(500) Days' site
Zooey Deschanel plays Jess in Fox's "New Girl," having its season finale Tuesday. (Ray Mickshaw / Fox)

On the season finale of Fox's "New Girl," love is all around.

That's according to the girl herself — Zooey Deschanel, who headlines the comedy as socially awkward Jess.


The season ender, which airs Tuesday, seems headed to address whether Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece (Hannah Simone) will finally get it together — but the reconciliations might not end there.

At least viewers can rest easy that whatever happens, it will be explored further since Fox has already renewed the comedy for a fifth season. Production on the new season began a few weeks after the current Season 4 wrapped to accommodate Deschanel's pregnancy and bank some episodes before her maternity leave kicks in. Deschanel's pregnancy will not be incorporated into the show, but it will mean her character Jess will be absent in a few episodes next season.

The Times caught up with Deschanel by phone to get some info on the season finale, her thoughts on a musical one-night stand, and how the show moved on from the Nick and Jess romance — or has it?

Look, I know the finale is Tuesday and all, but I need to first talk to you about the Josh Gad episode with the musical one-night stand because what, why, how?

It was so weird. That was really fun and weird. It was really cool to have Josh there, and to have Justin Long back. I was laughing when I read those lyrics, which I feel is the appropriate response, right? Woodland creatures are a great aphrodisiac.

I need someone to make it an actual musical on Broadway.

Let's put that on Josh's shoulders — he has the connections.

So, the finale is coming up. What can you tell me about what we'll be seeing?

Well, it's interesting because a lot of times the finales will be like these big productions. This year the finale was more just revisiting some of our major themes over the course of the last four years, but in a way that I think is pretty exciting and cool.

What does that entail for Jess?

In the finale … um … basically … Jess is always trying to help everyone. Can you tell how I don't know how much I can tell you.

Give me three words, Zooey. Three words to describe it.

Jess, matchmaker. Hmm, I would also say it's a romantic episode — romantic on many levels. For everyone. Yeah, it's romantic for everyone. Or … a lot of people.

And amid all the romance, "New Girl" loses Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) yet again.


I know, it's so sad. We already shot a few episodes for Season 5. And that's when it was clear that Damon was gone. It felt like the middle of a season, like we were switching seasons, and it was strange not to have Coach's comedic moments mixed in.

Was that a weird experience just jumping right into Season 5 without taking a breather?

Yeah, I mean, it was funny because you're trying to get your head readjusted and you're like "how can we make this season different?" when you're still on the high of the fourth one. I think one of the solutions was doing something different with my hair so it just felt like some time had passed for us. Or maybe it's the same. I don't know. It certainly felt different.

I'm trying to imagine what it's going to be like having some episodes be Jess-free next season.

[Silence for about a minute]

Sorry, sorry, sorry. If that happens again it's just my Bluetooth cutting out. I use a Bluetooth.

As far as not being in some episodes, I think it's better. I mean, I would have been fine delaying things, I just didn't want to go back to work with a weeks-old infant. That's not really fair to the infant. They wanted a full season, so it was important to figure out a way to make it work. And this was a way we were able to work it all out. Obviously, of course, it's a little bit weird. But I have complete faith in my awesome cast and the writers. It will be fun to watch. It'll be cool to see the storylines that emerge from that.

Do you have some idea of what's taking shape on that front?

Yeah, yeah, yes. They have a pretty good way of dealing with it. Jess goes away for a few weeks — I won't say why — and it makes perfect sense and actually sets up a cool storyline.

Does it feel like it's been five seasons? I feel like just yesterday we were being inundated with the "adorkable" ads.

It is crazy. It's been like high school kind of. It's been four years and it does sort of feel like we're seniors now. And it's funny to be — you know, you see how each year things change, and the dynamics change and some things remain the same. And in that time we try to improve our process and make doing the show as fun as possible, and try to make the best shows as possible. If something doesn't work, we adjust.

Right. The show got some grief with Season 3 and the whole Nick and Jess relationship. And Season 4 seemed to try to revert back to what people liked about the show.

I thought it was handled really well. I know our set dynamics got better too. Everything got better. Season 3 was just a little bit — we did run into some roadblocks because, you know, a lot of different choices and different things. This season we got back — we kind of came up with a system that works better because part of the thing is they're scrambling because it all happens really fast. Everyone is scrambling to come up with stuff. And we have a really talented group of writers. But we make 23 episodes, not all of them are going to be great. That's the one thing with TV. If 15 of them are great, then that's amazing. Then you have a few that are good or whatever. But you can't expect all of them to be perfect. But this year, I think we really got back to the spirit of the show. Sometimes in Season 3 there'd be a mix-up where all of a sudden one character that we established was one way would start acting like a different character. And you don't always know how to play that as an actor.

And it's harder to brush off when you know a character so well ...

Exactly. And of course I would say something. I'd be like, "this isn't Jess." Sometimes I would get lines and I'd be like, "did you mean that for Schmidt?" And it just happens. We have amazing writers. They're basically trying to create these great stories and so it's our job, if we see something that doesn't quite ring true, we have to say something. But I think it's a pretty harmonious collaboration. And I really love everybody, so.

Was there a side to Jess you enjoyed exploring this season?

We got to return to what I really liked about Jess. I think Jess is a person that means well all the time, but a lot of times that's what gets her into trouble because she has a strong moral compass, but will then make the wrong decision, you know? I think they really did an amazing job this year of having the stories come out of the character flaws. I think the golf episode is an example of that, the walk of shame episode. I really liked the one where they go to the funeral. There were a ton of episodes I'm really proud of.


Lamorne Morris (Winston) wrote an episode. Is that something you have any interest in attempting?

Uh, no. I don't really want to do that. I don't really want to write an episode of "New Girl." I'm happy acting in it, and I'm happy getting our scripts every week.

But if you did, which character do you think you'd have most fun trying to write for? Would it be Jess?

Yeah, I think so. I think it'd be interesting. Being the actor that portrays her, I can be like, well, I miss that part of her character. Sometimes they'll let a part of the character go away -- so if I were writing, I think that's what I would be focused on. And I think it'd be fun to write an episode that focused on the the things we're all good at.

On a side note, I assume you've heard about Angels Knoll and how L.A. is gearing up to sell it.

Oh my god. I knowww.

I need you to buy it.

I don't think I can afford it. Actually, I know I can't afford it. I was actually reading about it. It's insanely expensive. It's really sad. L.A. is a wonderful city with history and a lot of that history is relatively recent, and there's opportunity to preserve some of these things. So it seems a shame with a modern mind-set to not try. We did a dedication to that space, and I got a key to the city because of "(500) Days of Summer." It's not really a key to the city because they don't do that, it was more of a certificate. I don't know, it's kind of a shame. Somebody has to buy it.

We should launch a Kickstarter.

It'd be a really expensive Kickstarter. Isn't it like $40 million? But somebody has to get it. Somebody who is not going to try to build a gray apartment building. At least try to preserve that bench. It's such a beautiful view, you can see everything. I'm with you. If I could afford it, I would buy it.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy