In Elf, Deschanel stars as Jovie, a department store clerk whose Christmas spirit has all but evaporated. Late on her bills and toiling away at a thankless job, its not until Buddy and his unbridled enthusiasm for all things Christmas enters her life does she discover something that puts her in a more jovial spirit.
Sitting down to talk about her work in this family comedy, Zooey Deschanel revealed her love for the holiday season, and what it was like on the set with Will Ferrell and director Jon Favreau.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL ('Jovie'):
When you got the script and it required singing, did that scare you at all?
No, Ive been singing forever. I started out doing musicals. I think that was part of the reason why they gave me the part, because I sang.
When did you learn to sing?
I learned to sing when I was very small but Ive been taking voice lessons since I was 11. Thats 12 years, more than half my life. I cant even remember the first time I started singing.
When you recorded Baby, Its Cold Outside with Leon Redbone, did you record it with him in the studio?
I did. He is a cool guy. I had one of his records when I was a kid that I used to listen to all the time. I loved him and Ive always been a fan of his. It was really neat to be able to meet him. He recorded his part later. I recorded my part first. I havent actually heard the finished version. He was there and his producer was there. It was really fun. It only took a couple of hours. We just went in and laid down the tracks. It was great. He did the voice of the snowman. I remember when Jon Favreau, at the beginning of filming, was talking about getting Leon to do the music I was like, Do it! Then when I found out I got to record a duet with him, that was really exciting.
What was Christmas like growing up?
It was horrible (laughing). No, Im kidding. It was the best, actually. I was just watching a video of myself from when I was six, opening presents, my God, veraciously. I love Christmas and I really got in to the spirit of it - early on in the year usually. Maybe June, July, perhaps May or April, I would begin to talk about what we would do on Christmas.
Do you have any favorite Christmas movies?
I like Its a Wonderful Life, its my favorite one. I love Miracle on 34th Street, the old one. And I like A Christmas Story. How could you not? When I was a kid, that was on 24 hours a day all Christmas. Youd wake up in the morning and it was a loop of A Christmas Story. Literally, there was a station that just showed A Christmas Story.
What was it like working with Will Ferrell? Did he make you laugh every time you filmed?
No, because then we wouldnt have ever gotten anything and they probably would have fired me. It was definitely a challenge to not laugh. It was great working with him. Hes the nicest guy in the world.
What was your favorite scene to film?
It was fun when we were in the department store because there were all these weird toys everywhere little kid guitars, little stuffed animals, and just weird stuff. We had fun there.
Can you talk about your character Jovie? Shes supposed to be a New Yorker who doesnt have much Christmas spirit.
It seems like New Yorks a really Christmasy place. People walk down the street and they act like they dont care but I think deep down inside, New Yorkers really care about Christmas. New York is way more Christmasy than LA. LA is like its not cold, theres no gigantic Christmas tree, and no one is ice-skating. You have to drive to an indoor rink to go ice-skating.
I do play a jaded New Yorker. Its difficult to be in the Christmas spirit when your waters been shut off and youre being harassed by a gigantic elf. You have to take kind of a humiliating job to make ends meet.