Zooey Deschanel: “I feel a winner”

This article is published in issue 38 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until September 20, 2022.

In the suite on the second floor of the very central but secluded St. Regis Hotel there is a pretty mess: the dress and pumps she wore at the press conference that just ended, the dress for the premiere of the film in the evening, bags and sunglasses of various shapes and shades. Zooey Deschanelhis first time at the Cinema Exhibition (but not in Venice, he will keep us pointed out), he welcomes me twirling barefoot in a blue and white dressing gown with majolica print, sipping a cappuccino. Sitting at the table, boyfriend, Jonathan Scottbuilding contractor and star of the long-lived reality Brothers in business, in which, with her twin Drew, she helps couples and families get their dream home. Time to introduce herself and she takes leave in the other room. Zooey sits comfortably on the cobalt-colored velvet sofa, which appears to match her bedroom attire.

Maybe, she’s not exactly the kind of Hollywood star everyone knows, but she’s hugely popular with Millennials and early Gen Z for (500) days togethera brilliant little comedy that became an accident, and above all for New Girlcult series halfway between Friends And Flea Bag, of which she was the eccentric protagonist for seven seasons. For sure, she will be appreciated by anyone after seeing her in Dreamin ‘Wildthe film by Bill Pohlad (that of Love and Mercy) presented and applauded in Venice out of competition, now in the cinema. A true storythe subject of a memorable report by New York Times. In 1979, the teenagers Donnie and Joe Emersonthe sons of a farmer in Fruitland Valley, Washington, had self-produced the album Dreamin ‘Wild passed over in silence; thirty years later, a collector he found it in an antique shop, from there the word of mouth until the re-release of the album and the beginning of the second life of the two brothers. A work that touches on issues such as failure, second chances, the feelings of guilt that weigh on
family relationships. Zooey Deschanel plays Donnie’s wife (Casey Affleck), Nancy, “a
loyal partner, a great mom and a talented musician, ”she says.

He had heard of the Emersons before attending Dreamin ‘Wild?
“No. I only knew one of their songs: Baby. There is an independent record label, Light In The Attic, which reissues the records that didn’t get much attention when they came out ».

Have you met the real Nancy?
“Yes, during the shoot. She is an enthusiastic woman, her husband’s greatest cheerleader. ‘

In addition to being an actress, she is a musician: she is part of the duo She & Him, which among other things has recently released a cover album by the Beach Boys. Did this affect your choice to accept the part?
“It was like that. I knew I could help. I’ve made seven records, I’ve done many tours, I’ve gained a lot of experience … and I thought: “I’m not a drummer (like Nancy, ed), but I’ve played percussion in the past” ».

One of the themes of Dreamin ‘Wild it is failure.
“A subjective concept, which depends on the perspective from which you look at your life”.

What is your perspective?
«Having reached 42 at this point, I feel like a winner. Do I make a movie that satisfies me with a cast and crew that amuse me? It’s a hit no matter how many people see it. Do I record an album that is a good test of creativity? It is a success, regardless of how many people listen to it ».

A success you are proud of?
“At the age of eight I was diagnosed with ADHD, the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, even though it was then only called Add and there was no talk of hyperactivity. I was lucky, because in those days it was easier for them to identify it in males, and in fact many girls did not receive the prognosis. I was able to count on the support of my parents. But it took some time for educational therapy to work, for me to learn to focus my attention and listen to people the right way. I worked hard and, even if the learning difficulties that accompanied me in my growth have had their weight, my result is a great success. I am happy to talk about it. Above all, I would like a message to reach schools: everyone has different ways of learning, which must be valued ».

Even today, the diagnoses are few.
«Yet many people suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity. I suspect several colleagues, whether they have been diagnosed with them or not. ‘

Returning to Dreamin ‘Wild: there is another theme that is being developed, namely that of family relationships. She has a dad who can be bulky: celebrated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel.
«We are very united. Growing up with him has meant traveling all over the world a lot: we also came here to Venice when I was eight, I have the photos! I clearly spent time on his sets: I particularly remember the donuts, the cafeteria food, and the endlessly repeating scenes. It wasn’t all that exciting to watch the same thing happen over and over again. ‘

Is it by attending those sets that he found his way?
“I found her very early, at the age of two, after having taken part in a little comedy.”

Do your two children, Elsie and Charlie, seven and five years old respectively, already have artistic ambitions?
«They are both creative, they love to invent stories and songs. The other day, however, the eldest daughter asked me: “I have a friend who starred in a commercial. Can I do it too? ”».

What did he answer you?
“What my parents told me when I asked them the same question:” You can do it when you’re old enough to drive to work. ” They knew too many child actors and they didn’t want it to be my destiny. ‘

What relationship do Elsie and Charlie have with her success?
«It happens that someone approaches me to have a photo or comment on a film and they say to me:“ Mom, that person really likes you. Because?”. They know that I act and sing, but they don’t “really know”, they don’t understand it completely: it’s innocent and sweet the way they perceive my job. If they saw me surrounded by people shouting my name, they would be confused. So I try to protect them, to keep them out. For example, I don’t want to publish their photos until I can get their consent. It’s just my opinion, I’m not criticizing anyone who chooses otherwise. However, as far as my children are concerned, I want them to decide if and when to be there for all to see ».

Among the most beautiful jokes of Dreamin ‘Wild there is one from Donnie’s father: “If you don’t believe in family, what do you believe in?” What do you believe in?
“Me too in the family, and in the creativity that is magical.”

On the net we read that she had converted to Judaism, for the love of her ex-husband, Jacob Pechenik, who is also the father of Elsie and Charlie.
“Ah, no no! I am Catholic, raised Catholic, but not practicing ».

Is it true that she is an excellent cook?
“Of course! Jonathan can you come and confirm? ‘

Call the boyfriend in the other room. Unfortunately he doesn’t hear. Let’s go in confidence.

“Before I was born, my parents lived in Rome and I learned how to prepare Italian dishes: pasta, risotto … while my mother is very good at making bread”.

Do you have a “wild, wild” dream, like the title of the film?
“Having a home in Europe seems wild to me.”

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Zooey Deschanel: “I feel a winner”