Zooey Deschanel takes the lead in the new M. Night Shyamalan film ‘The Happening’. Here the actress talks about what it was like to work with one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic directors.

Coming from a showbiz dynasty like the Deschanel family, new kid on the block Zooey Deschanel could be forgiven for having great expectations. Zooey is the daughter of famed Hollywood cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and Twin Peaks actress Mary Jo Weir and younger sister to ‘Spider-man 2′ star Emily Deschanel. Instead of pulling strings and using family ties to her advantage this pretty young brunette is working her own way to the top. Zooey, 28, may have appeared in a number of supporting roles in Hollywood but now she is proving that hard work really does pay off. Thanks mostly to a role alongside school pal Kate Hudson in the coming of age drama ‘Almost Famous’, Zooey’s rise to fame has been steadily increasing and she has shown Tinseltown she is definitely one to watch.

Q: What was it like working with M. Night Shyamalan on ‘The Happening’?

A: “He is really smart and he knows exactly what he wants. It’s really fun and very interesting working with a director that has such a clear vision of what he wants. Also it was a challenge trying to filter his vision through myself and trying to represent that as best I could. And Mark Wahlberg’s really great and we had a lot of time to rehearse and had a lot of fun.”


Q: You come from a showbiz family – was it inevitable you would go into showbiz too?

A: “I was always going to do a creative job but I’ve sort of always had the impulse to perform ever since I was pretty small.”


Q: Is it true you were named after the male JD Salinger character Zooey Glass?

A: “Yes, that’s true.”


Q: And is it true you went to school with fellow Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson?

A: “Kate Hudson was a year older than me in school but we all started around the same time. Kate was always very glamorous even in school, and always really nice and charming, a very warm person. Jake was always extremely funny and charismatic.”


Q: You got your big break when you were just 17 years old in the TV show ‘Veronica’s Closet’ – do you prefer movies or TV?

A: “Movies are what I have wanted to do and my focus, but I’m not against television – it’s sort of on a project by project basis. But you have to think more about what you do in television, because if you’re going to do a series it lasts a long time. I like doing movies because you get to play a lot of different characters.”


Q: You play a lot of supporting roles – are you waiting for a good role as a leading lady?

A: “I think I’ve done a lot of supporting roles since then…. I think it’s better to take a good supporting role that a bad leading role, but I prefer to do a leading role if they’re equally good.”


Q: Did you enjoy making ‘Elf’ with Will Ferrell?

A: “It wasn’t that huge of a budget – I think it was smaller than Almost Famous. It just made a lot of money. I had a great time making it, and Will Ferrell is such a lovely guy and so fun to work with. He’s always kind to everybody and so funny. I got the feeling when I read the script that it was a classic story – I laughed when I was reading it and felt that was a good sign. Will wasn’t quite a movie star yet when we made it – he was on his way, but he hadn’t sealed the deal. That made him a movie star, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to be a huge star.”


Q: What have you got lined up now?

A: “I just finished a movie called yes man with Jim Carrey, and I’ve got a film called Gigantic coming up soon that I have been working on with Paul Dano and John Goodman.”

Q: You always say you do not want to be classed as a movie ‘babe’ – is it because you think looks get in the way?

A: “There are roles that you have to look great and roles where you have to look terrible. I feel like when I say I don’t want to be a babe, I’m saying I don’t want looks to be my only merit. I don t’ think people are attractive unless they have more than just their looks.”


‘The Happening’ is in Irish cinemas June 13th.