Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why You Rarely See Zooey Deschanel On TV Or In Movies Now

Being a film or television star can be tricky — no matter how popular you might become, you may find that your star power ebbs and flows over the years. However, throughout the 2010s, it seemed as if Zooey Deschanel — who found success on the big and small screen during the decade — was here to stay.

Best known for her movie roles in Almost Famous, Elf, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and 500 Days of Summer, as well as the hit Fox series New Girl, Deschanel was a huge star during the high points of her career. However, after New Girl came to an end in 2018 after seven seasons, her acting career slowed down considerably.

Deschanel has been largely absent from our screens over the past couple of years — but happily, it's for several solid reasons, including her work as a producer, her singing career, and her new role as a mother. Here's a look at why you rarely see Zooey Deschanel in films or on television anymore.

Her 'adorkability' might have made Zooey Deschanel hard to cast

From 2011 to 2018, Zooey Deschanel starred as Jessica Day — a sweet, quirky teacher who moves in with three strangers in Los Angeles after a terrible breakup — and though the role netted her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, it may have also pigeonholed her as a performer.

There's no question that Jess and Deschanel share a lot of traits, from their musical talents to their love of vintage clothing, and (unfortunately, in retrospect) early seasons of New Girl really leaned on those similarities. As The Atlantic put it during the show's run in 2018, "Deschanel was already a polarizing figure when New Girl launched last fall — your tolerance for both her and her character, Jess, likely hinges on how much you relate to the need to curl up in a ball and watch Dirty Dancing on a loop post break-up," but as the outlet also notes, the show gets much sharper and funnier as it continues — as does Jess. (In fact, the show often outright lampoons her quirky Disney Princess image.) Unfortunately, if you didn't invest in New Girl longterm, you missed all that evolution, which potentially made her harder to cast in roles that differed too drastically from Jess.

The era of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl has ended

Between her leading role on New Girl and her starring turn alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, the fact is that many of Deschanel's most high-profile characters fit the definition of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl." A term coined by critic Nathan Rabin after he saw Cameron Crowe's 2005 film Elizabethtown — specifically, to address Kirsten Dunst's character — the term became a catchall for quirky female characters, and unfortunately, Deschanel was caught in its crossfire.

For example, 500 Days of Summer's leading lady, Summer, could best be described as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl by detractors who would prefer to ignore the depths of the character — as well as the strength of Deschanel's performance — diminishing Summer as a girl who loves vintage clothes, is quirky at heart, and encourages the film's male protagonist to make big choices in his life. Rabin ultimately apologized for even creating the concept of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl years later, but the popularity of the trope — and its backlash — may have affected Deschanel's opportunities in Hollywood.

Zooey Deschanel is also a producer

Plenty of actors have moved into producing while still appearing in front of the camera — even megawatt stars like Brad Pitt, who actually won his first Academy Award for producing 12 Years a Slave several years before he won a competitive Oscar for acting. Zooey Deschanel is no different; in fact, she moved behind the camera on New Girl during its run. In 2011, she became a producer, and from 2014 until the show ended in 2018, also served as an executive producer.

Deschanel also ventured into producing some other projects throughout her run on New Girl, including Must Be Nice, a series with one of the show's writers, J.J. Philbin, though that one didn't ultimately make it to air. Even if she isn't appearing onscreen, in other words, there's always a chance Deschanel could produce again if the right project catches her eye.

Zooey Deschanel is dedicated to promoting vegan and vegetarian lifestyles

Aside from her acting career, one of Zooey Deschanel's longtime passion projects has been promoting vegan and vegetarian lifestyles while helping consumers understand where their food actually comes from. For multiple seasons, Deschanel has hosted the webseries Your Food's Roots alongside ATTN, where she talks to farmers, nutritionists, food historians, and other experts about how the food you choose affects you as well as the people around you, larger communities, and the Earth as a whole.

In fact, working on the show encouraged Deschanel to become a vegetarian to adopt more ethical food practices. "The main thing is it's just so hard to know where meat is coming from. It's so difficult to know if it was sustainably raised [or] humanely raised," Deschanel told People in 2020. "I really felt like I couldn't be sure where it was coming from most of the time. So I stopped eating meat." Deschanel also told the magazine that she "started really trying to buy from local farmers and understanding the importance of buying food in season," continuing, "I mean, if just for the fact that it tastes a lot better, but it's better for the environment because you're not buying something that's been grown in the Southern Hemisphere and shipped across the world."

HelloGiggles was co-founded by Zooey Deschanel

Near the height of her career momentum in 2011, Zooey Deschanel found time to create a place for women of all ages online. Alongside co-founders Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi, Deschanel founded HelloGiggles just as she landed her starring role on New Girl. According to HelloGiggles itself, the site is meant to serve as a "positive online community for female-identifying readers (although others are always welcome!) covering the latest in beauty and style, relationships, career and money, culture, identity, and more." To do this, the site combines personal essays with news, lists, and columns.

In 2015, Deschanel, McAleer, and Rossi sold HelloGiggles to Time Inc., but still continued overseeing the website as it gained an even wider audience. As Deschanel told the Los Angeles Times in a statement, the purchase meant the trio and their staff would "be able to... inspire and support even more young women with a safe and positive media platform." HelloGiggles is still around to do that today.

Being a parent is incredibly important to Zooey Deschanel

In 2015, Zooey Deschanel took on one of the most important roles of her life — becoming a mother — with the birth of her first child, daughter Elsie Wolf. In 2017, with then-husband Jacob Pechenik, she had a son, Charlie Wolf, and before the couple parted ways in 2019, she opened up about motherhood and her role as a parent shortly after New Girl ended in 2018. (New Girl ultimately wrote Deschanel out for her maternity leave by putting Jess on jury duty in 2016, adding Megan Fox to briefly take center stage.)

In 2018, Deschanel told InStyle that she was in no rush to return to acting, preferring to focus on her children. "I'm just looking for something that would be exciting and fulfilling for me," she explained. "I have two kids, and they're very important to me. I'm really focused on them, so I want to make sure that whatever I do next is really good. It has to be really good for me to leave them [and go to work]." By Deschanel's own admission, she's a very hands-on parent — "I mean, I'm driving my kids to every class, every day. I'm there with them all the time. It's actually rare that I'm not with them. I try to be there as much as humanly possible" — so it stands to reason that she might not have a lot of extra time for acting ventures.

Zooey Deschanel sued her former manager

According to a lawsuit Zooey Deschanel filed that was settled in 2018, it's possible that her representative team was partly responsible for her lack of non-New Girl roles. However, when the ruling came down, the judge ruled against Deschanel.

Deschanel alleged that Sarah Jackson of Seven Summits Pictures & Management, her former manager, prevented her from scoring any big film roles during a 2013 break from New Girl, claiming that switching agencies essentially got her blacklisted during that time. However, the judge in the case ended up ruling that Deschanel's evidence didn't add up, partly because she scheduled other commitments during the hiatus, "limiting" her "availability," and partly because her "criteria" was too "narrow" for any roles to actually come to fruition. It's clear that Deschanel felt wronged by Jackson. Unfortunately for her, she can't legally claim that her former manager's actions prevented her from booking any big film roles during her sitcom hiatus, but it may have soured her on the Hollywood experience anyway.

Zooey Deschanel is sticking to voice appearances

Ever since New Girl ended in 2018, audiences haven't seen Zooey Deschanel onscreen in an acting role, but if you listen closely to some recent — and huge — children's movies, you'll be able to hear her distinctive voice.

In 2016, Deschanel began appearing in the enormously successful Trolls franchise, voicing Bridget, a member of the antagonistic Bergen race. However, Bridget is a particularly sweet Bergen, harboring a secret crush on the Prince of the Bergens, Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and working as a scullery maid in the palace. After the first film, Deschanel returned not only for the in-demand 2020 sequel Trolls World Tour, which marked her first acting gig since 2017, but she also appeared in NBC's Trolls Holiday special, reprising her role as Bridget in both. Whether it's to cater to her children or just because voice work is a fun, easy gig for big actors, Deschanel is clearly doing well with her work in the Trolls movies.

Zooey Deschanel still performs with her band, She & Him

Even throughout the highest highs of her film and television career, Zooey Deschanel always kept her true passion project, the band She & Him, alive; alongside partner M. Ward, the duo has released several albums. With Deschanel on piano, vocals, and ukulele and Ward on guitar, the two strike a decidedly folksy pose, and they've been quite successful, releasing 2008's Volume One, 2010's Volume Two, 2013's Volume Three and A Very She & Him Christmas, 2014's Classics, and 2016's Christmas Party.

Between albums, Ward and Deschanel also play live; as recently as 2019, the two were still doing holiday tours, visiting several cities during the season to spread musical cheer. In fact, during their 2019 Christmas Party tour, Deschanel was spotted bringing her famous boyfriend, Property Brother Jonathan Scott, on stage during a show at the Met in Philadelphia.

Jonathan Scott and Zooey Deschanel have teamed up on HGTV

After meeting during a taping of Carpool Karaoke in 2019, Zooey Deschanel and HGTV star/Property Brother Jonathan Scott started dating, and over time, the two slowly made their relationship public. Throughout several cute Instagram posts and other milestones, Deschanel and Scott have opened up about their relationship, and in December of 2020, Deschanel put in an appearance alongside Scott on his home network.

Deschanel appeared in an episode of the HGTV series Celebrity IOU, which sees celebrities do special construction and renovations favors for friends and loved ones (the show is produced and hosted by Scott and his brother, Drew). In this sweet installment, Deschanel helps out a longtime friend — Sarah, who has been a part of the her life since kindergarten — by expanding her home into an open-space concept. Beyond Deschanel's amazing gesture, it's even cuter knowing that she's appearing alongside Scott, her real-life partner, and supporting his television ventures.

Zooey Deschanel doesn't mind spoofing her own image

Zooey Deschanel's blunt bangs, "adorkable" personality, and ukulele-fueled indie band have made her an easily spoofable celebrity over the years. Now that she's out of the spotlight, Deschanel is poking fun at herself, and even appeared in a music video alongside Katy Perry to reference a long-running joke.

There's no denying that Deschanel and Perry look eerily similar, to the point where Perry even admitted that she occasionally pretended to be Deschanel to gain access to exclusive events and clubs. Finally, in December of 2020, the duo made light of their similarity when Deschanel starred in the music video for Perry's song "Not the End of the World," one of the singles from her Smile album. In the video, Deschanel plays an unsuspecting human who finds herself held captive by aliens who really, really like Katy Perry, and even try to get Deschanel's character to perform as the pop star — capitalizing on this persistent joke perfectly.