Zooey Deschanel was born in 1980 into a showbiz family. Her father, Caleb Deschanel is an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer and her mother, Mary Jo Deschanel (née Weir) is an actress who starred in "Twin Peaks". Driven from an early age to become a successful actress, Zooey got her big break aged 17 playing a model in TV sitcom "Veronica's Closet". She got her first film role the following year in Mumford, which prompted her to quit university to pursue acting full-time. Mostly thanks to a role in Cameron Crowe's popular biopic, Almost Famous, Zooey's rise to fame has been steadily increasing as the 21st century wears on. Her distinctive acting style found her critical acclaim in 2003 when she was voted Best Actress at the Mar Del Plata Film Festival for her role in David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls. She also gained a Best Female Lead nomination at the following year's Independent Spirit Awards, but lost out to Charlize Theron.
Zooey is often compared to golden era Hollywood starlets and is also a talented singer. She has said in interviews that she believes her singing ability was pivotal in gaining the role of Jovie in Elf. She also sang in the Disney-produced musical, Once Upon a Mattress.
Deschanel appeared in a guest role on the television series Veronica's Closet before making her film debut in Lawrence Kasdan's 1999 comedy Mumford, and later in the year she appeared in the music video for The Offspring's single "She's Got Issues". In her second film, director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical Almost Famous, Deschanel played Anita Miller, the protagonist's rebellious older sister. The film received critical praise, but was not a box office success. She also appeared in Jimmy Fallon's "Idiot Boyfriend" music video as his lead girl.
Deschanel played supporting roles in a series of films that include Manic, with Don Cheadle and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Big Trouble, with Tim Allen and Rene Russo, Abandon alongside Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt and Melanie Lynskey, and The Good Girl alongside Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal. In late 2002, The New York Times reported that Deschanel was "one of Hollywood's most sought-after young stars," and the Los Angeles Times wrote in early 2003 that Deschanel had become a recognizable type, due to "her deadpan, sardonic and scene-stealing performances" as the protagonist's best friend. Deschanel objected to her typecasting, arguing, "A lot of these roles are just a formula idea of somebody's best friend, and it's like, I don't even have that many friends. In high school, I stayed home all the time, so I don't know how I'm everybody's best friend now."
Deschanel appeared in Frasier, starring as Roz's out-of-control cousin, Jen, in the season 10 episode 'Kissing Cousin' in 2002. That year, she also appeared in the film The New Guy as Nora, the guitar player in the lead character's band, Suburban Funk.
After turning down several supporting roles, Deschanel played her first lead role in All the Real Girls. Her performance as Noel, a sexually curious 18-year-old virgin who has a life-changing romance with an aimless 22-year-old, received critical praise, and she received an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Actress. Later in 2003, Deschanel played a deadpan department store worker opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy Elf, which became a box office hit. Zooey Deschanel with co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt at a premiere for (500) Days of Summer in March 2009. In 2004, Deschanel starred in Eulogy, and in 2005 as Trillian in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' science fiction novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Also in 2005, she played the main character, Reese Holden in the film Winter Passing with supporting role from Will Ferrell. Deschanel then played Sarah Jessica Parker's neurotic roommate in Failure to Launch, and appeared on four episodes of the Showtime television series Weeds from 2006 to 2007, playing Andy Botwin's quirky ex-girlfriend, Kat. In September 2006, Variety announced that Deschanel would play 1960s singer Janis Joplin in the film The Gospel According to Janis, to be co-written and directed by Penelope Spheeris. Deschanel planned to sing all of Joplin's songs, and took four months of singing lessons "to approximate Joplin's gritty vocals." The film, scheduled to begin shooting on November 13, 2006, was postponed indefinitely. However, the project is now back on track and will be released in 2012.
In 2007, Deschanel appeared in two children's films: Bridge to Terabithia, in which she played Jesse's quirky music teacher, and the animated film Surf's Up, in which she voiced a penguin named Lani Aliikai. She played DG, the lead in the Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man, a re-imagined science fiction version of L. Frank Baum's children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Tin Man aired on Sci Fi in December 2007. Deschanel also narrated the children's book Players in Pigtails. On April 27, 2008, she performed on The Simpsons, playing the role of Mary, Cletus's daughter, and in June she starred opposite Mark Wahlberg in M. Night Shyamalan's poorly received environmental thriller The Happening. Also in 2008, Deschanel starred in Gigantic, and later that year in the comedy film Yes Man, opposite Jim Carrey.
Deschanel guest starred in a Christmas 2009 episode of Bones as Brennan's never-before-seen cousin. In the first-ever on-screen pairing of the Deschanel sisters, Zooey portrayed Margaret Whitesell, a distant relative of Emily's Dr. Temperance Brennan. Brennan's father, Max Keenan, invites Margaret to spend Christmas with him and his daughter. In 2010, Deschanel secured the role of Belladonna in the fantasy comedy film Your Highness alongside Natalie Portman and James Franco. Deschanel will star in the pilot for the HBO series I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, in which she plays the role of Pamela Des Barres, who wrote a memoir based on her own experience as a former groupie. She is also now appearing as the lead in the new Fox series New Girl, created by Elizabeth Meriwether.
The New Guy was the first of Deschanel's films in which she sang onscreen. In Elf, she sings with Will Ferrell in the bathroom shower scene on "Baby, It's Cold Outside", and was also heard singing it on the soundtrack with Leon Redbone. Her piano composition "Bittersuite" was used thematically in the dark, off-beat 2004 dramedy Winter Passing, in which she starred alongside Will Ferrell and Ed Harris. Subsequently, Deschanel also sings in Winter Passing.
Others include: the television musical Once Upon a Mattress; an old cabaret song in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; and the 2007 short film Raving. Deschanel and the cast of school children sing the Steve Earle song "Someday" and War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?" in the 2007 film Bridge to Terabithia. In the film Yes Man, Deschanel sings several songs featured in the film and on the film soundtrack, and is shown singing "Uh-Huh" and "Sweet Ballad" alongside San Franciscan all-girl electro soul-punk group Von Iva in a fictional band called "Munchausen by Proxy".
In (500) Days of Summer Deschanel sings a cover of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths—it also appears on the soundtrack of the film, as performed by She and Him. She also sings a cover of "Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra. (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb also directed Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt in a music video, Bank Dance, with the She & Him song "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?".
Deschanel sings "The Greatest Most Beautiful Love Song in All the Land" with James Franco in the film Your Highness. She also appears in a number of songs on the soundtrack album for the 2011 release of Disney's Winnie the Pooh. Deschanel wrote and sings the theme song to her current television series New Girl.
Deschanel and M. Ward performing as She & Him on a Wurlitzer Electric Piano at the Newport Folk Festival In 2001, Deschanel formed If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies, a jazz cabaret act with fellow actress Samantha Shelton. The pair performed around Los Angeles.
In March 2007, Deschanel contributed vocals to two songs "Slowly" and "Ask Her to Dance" on the album Nighttiming by Jason Schwartzman's band Coconut Records. In May 2007, singer/songwriter M. Ward, who had previously performed with Deschanel onstage, said that he was "just finishing work" on her debut album, which will feature songs written by Deschanel and produced by Ward. Fox reported that Deschanel and Ward were recording under the moniker She & Him. Their first album, titled Volume One, was released by Merge Records on March 18, 2008.  On March 23, 2010, the second She & Him album, Volume Two, was released. In spring of 2010, She & Him went on tour in the USA and Europe to promote the album.
Deschanel and M. Ward both featured on The Place We Ran From, the 2010 album by Snow Patrol member Gary Lightbody's side project, Tired Pony. Deschanel contributed vocals to the tracks "Get On the Road" and "Point Me at Lost Islands", while M. Ward contributed vocals and guitar to the track "Held in the Arms of Your Words" and guitar to the track "That Silver Necklace". Deschanel also recorded "The Fabric of My Life" for a 2009 advertising campaign for Cotton Incorporated.
Deschanel also performed "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch during game three of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants on October 19, 2010 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.
On October 23, 2011, Deschanel performed the National Anthem before game four of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, TX.
Deschanel contributed a cover of Buddy Holly's "It's So Easy" for the tribute album Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, released on September 6, 2011. She had previously appeared on Rave On Buddy Holly with She & Him performing "Oh Boy", released in June 2011.
A Very She & Him Christmas was announced on Pitchfork.com in September 2011. The 12-track Christmas album was released October 25, 2011 under Merge Records.
Deschanel was a judge for the ninth Independent Music Awards.
She has signed on to represent Rimmel.
In May 2011, she launched HelloGiggles, an entertainment website geared towards women, with producer Sophia Rossi and writer Molly McAleer.
In 2011, Deschanel collaborated with Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle on "Drunk History", on the website Funny or Die.
In September 2009, Deschanel married musician Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist for The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. On November 1, 2011, they announced their separation after two years of marriage. Deschanel—who is allergic to eggs, dairy, and wheat gluten—formerly adhered to a vegan diet. She was featured on episode eight of season one of Bravo's Top Chef Masters, in which the chefs participating in the competition were challenged to cater a vegan lunch party for her family and friends using no eggs, dairy, soy, or gluten. However, according to a recent interview with Health magazine, she had to come off the diet because her food sensitivities made it too difficult for her to stay healthy as a vegan. Deschanel has also stated that she has Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Named for the male character in J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey".
- Daughter of Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel.
- Went to high school with her Almost Famous co-star Kate Hudson.
- Younger sister of actress Emily Deschanel.
- Graduated from Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica.
- She spent several summers at camp upstate New York at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts. She was also featured in the video for The Offspring's song "She's Got Issues" and the accompanying MTV documentary The Offspring Complete Music Video Collection. She also plays ukulele for the band 'If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies'.
- Attended Northwestern University for one year, but dropped out.
- Is a big fan of actress Parker Posey.
- Interests include jazz singing, philosophy, fashion and photography.
- Did her own singing in the movie Elf (2003).
- Plays the piano and the baritone ukulele.
- Has performed with Jackson Nash's comedy group, Manifest Destinyfest.
- Turned down a role in Bully (2001) to star in Big Trouble (2002).
- Loves Ella Fitzgerald.
- Is part of the cabaret group called 'If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies'.
- She pronounces her name "ZOH-ee" (not "Zoo-ee").
- Her last name is pronounced "day-shuh-NELL", with "day" slightly more accented than the middle syllable.
- Is part of indie duo called She & Him with M. Ward. Their debut album is called Volume One.
- Ranked #95 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women of 2008 list.
- Engaged to Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.
- Allergic to gluten, dairy, and eggs.
- Was ranked #73 on Maxim magazine Hot 100 Women of 2010 list.
- Sister-in-law of David Hornsby.
- Ranked #39 in the 2011 FHM Australia list of "100 Sexiest Women in the World".