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April 2005
A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: An Interview with Zooey Deschanel

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: An Interview with Zooey Deschanel

By Wilson Morales

Zooey Deschanel has taken quirky roles over the last few years and that has worked for her. Her role in "Elf" as the love interest to Will Ferrell's character was funny and in her current film, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", she plays another quirky role, Tricia "Trillian" McMillan. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Deschanel talks about her character and the book.

There, there seems to be a kind of offbeat, more offbeat than you normally are

Zooey: Hmmm? In the movie?

Yes, in the movie.

Zooey: Oh, interesting. You know what's interesting is I don't even a lot of the things that I do on purpose when I shoot something, like I won't see later and they'll affect other things, like I'll whatever I'm doing at the time of the movie, you know, to get ready for it, will affect things that I don't even realise. Like, you know, I'll be watching a lot of different movies and reading different things to like do research for the part and stuff. And then, and then you get on set and you do it and then later you go, 'Oh, I did this, I didn't even realise'.

How did you approach Trillian then? How did you see her?

Zooey: I saw her as somebody very intelligent; that was one of the main things that I wanted to keep intact with her - intelligence. And she's you know, it's kind of like going on a road trip with three indecisive friends, and she's the type of person who has to really talk some sense into these people. You know. Um, no one else knows how to fly this spaceship. Um, I mean, the only person that's even nearly as smart like, well, the only person that's smarter than her is Marvin and he's a robot. But, um, yeah I mean, I watched a lot of different movies just to kind of more like, I was saying this in the other room, I watched the Apartment a lot, more because what what we wanted to bring to it was like that it's this, it's this sort of fantastical situation and they're in space and they're on a spaceship and they're in the middle, you know, of this sort of insane race to get the ultimate question. And, um, and yet now I forgot what I was saying. Okay, let me go back.

The Apartment.

Zooey: Oh! The Apartment. And, yeah, we wanted to keep a sense of reality in that these are people in real situations, um, but sort of in extraordinary circumstances, which is where a lot of the comedy comes from I think, and that they're normal real people like you and me who are kind of stuck out there, you know.

Question:How did this come to you? I mean, did you have to fight hard to get it? Did you know anything about the original story?

Zooey: Yeah, I had read the book

Did you ever read the book prior to getting this role?

Zooey: Yeah, yeah - no, I'd read the book when I was in the 5th grade and really liked it. And then I was excited to hear that they were doing a movie of it. I met with Garth and Nick and we got along really well, and we had a lot of the same ideas about it. Then they flew me out to London to do a test with Martin. They were like testing both of us to see if we had good chemistry and all that.

How was that?

Zooey: It was really fun. I mean, we shot it in we shot it at Elstree, where we ended up shooting the movie, in one of the stages and they set up sort of some makeshift sets and gave us makeshift props and we had like sort of cot- costumes, kind of like they had, I had like my Darwin costume kind of, like a little bit a version of, you know. And, um, we did a couple of scenes. And then at the ending they had some extra film and it just happened to be that both Martin and I love to dance so we did a dance and it was really funny because at one point without even realising it we'd both broke out simultaneously in the same move. It was really fun. It was just a great experience.

So Martin is your kind of guy? I mean, you like sort of you know, that sort of ordinary looking guy or person.

Zooey: Well that's very nice is it?

I mean every man qualities .

Zooey: Every man, yeah. I was always a big Jimmy Stewart fan. I think Martin is fantastic and it was awesome to work with him. I love The Office so that was really cool to get to work with Tim from The Office.

Did you see the original BBC series now that's out on DVD

Zooey: I have seen it. I've seen some of it. You mean the TV series?

The TV series, yeah.

Zooey: You know I rented it in London .Yeah, I mean, it's funny. It's really funny. It's very low budget, and Trillian is certainly I was like, 'whoa, that's pretty different from what I'm doing, but' She's really she's funny.

That's what I meant.

Zooey: Yeah, yeah. No, very different. She's like kinda like a weird like a cocktail waitress or something, and very funny. It's really interesting to see how different another actor's take can be on it.

Obviously she was told to do those sort of things

Zooey: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She's like blonde, kinda like wearing a leotard and I'm much more covered up and she plays it kind of ditzy a little bit. She's like one of those floozy types, but I thought it was really funny actually. My boyfriend was visiting me and we rented it and we watched it and we were like this is really funny. I thought it was really funny but I mean, it's very different from the movie. And obviously we had many more resources, um it was more, it seems kinda more like sketch comedy than

The TV show?

Zooey: The series, yeah.

Right. You seem to be very attracted to kind of the idiosyncratic, off the wall characters in movies. You've never seemed to have fallen into a kind of a mainstream

Zooey: Right. I would say this is pretty mainstream.

But in a very non-mainstream way though. It's not really conventional.

Zooey: Right. Well, it's, it's different.

It's original.

Zooey: Yes. It's certainly original. Yeah, I just don't like playing boring people.

So what's a boring character? What are some examples of those that are boring?

Zooey: Oh, there's so many. When you see movies and you see characters like people's girlfriends and wives, I just always go, 'Ugh'. There really aren't that many good parts for women. It's all to do with the writing, because there are girlfriend parts and wives parts that are really great. But a lot of times you see that it's sort of like a plot device and so they just slap the character together and then they expect the actor to make it all up basically. This was very different from that. All the movies I've done I've just tried to do movies where it interests me and the character interests me and it's something that I feel I can contribute to.

Did you have input into her development as a character?

Zooey: I mean it's certainly different from the book, and when Douglas Adams went to adapt the book to a movie, which started many, many years ago, I know one of the main things that they were changing was, making the Trillian character more three-dimensional, she's kinda in the background a lot in the book and, that was sort of underway. And then they kept working on it all throughout, like from the time that I first read the script til when we shot it they were constantly working on it to make sure that it was a, you know, a realistic character, a character that worked, a character that was true to the book but also, really was a meaty character.

What kind of things are coming up for you?

Zooey: Yeah. I've done a lot of movies actually since then. I did a movie called Flakes with it's a little movie. Aaron Stanford and Christopher Lloyd and that Karey Kirkpatrick wrote. Karey who wrote the revision

Do you have anything that you're about to shoot?

Zooey: Yes, I'm about to shoot a movie called Failure to Launch with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey.

Is it a studio film?

Zooey: Yeah. It's Paramount.

Have you considered coming to New York and doing theatre?

Zooey: Yeah, I mean I would love to do something here. It's just like finding the time for the right thing.

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