Zooey Deschanel Defends the Way She Speaks: “I Am an Intelligent Person”

Zooey Deschanel covers the September 2013 issue of Marie Claire.
Zooey Deschanel covers the September 2013 issue of Marie Claire. 

Thanks to her starring role on New Girl, Zooey Deschanel is adored by audiences and critics alike. And yet, in spite of her recent success (which includes Golden Globe and Emmy nominations), the 33-year-old actress reveals she also has also contended with a sea of online naysayers who criticize everything from her wardrobe to her diction.

Covering the September 2013 issue of Marie Claire in a Saint Laurent dress, Deschanel says, "I became aware that people were criticizing the way I speak, which seems weird to me. I speak the way I speak, and I am an intelligent person. Sometimes I lean into California-speak more for entertainment value. It's not that I can't live in a world without the word 'like.'"

(Former Saturday Night Live cast member Abby Elliott memorably parodied Deschanel in a recurring sketch, "Bein' Quirky with Zooey Deschanel.")

Deschanel embraces her girly side, and in May 2011, she co-created a website, Hello Giggles, as a forum for other young women to express themselves. "I just felt it's important to teach young girls to be strong people, to not think, 'I can't do this because I'm worried about what people will say,'" she explains. "There are worse consequences, but online negativity stops people from being creative, part of which is having bad ideas as well as good ideas. When somebody says, 'That idea's stupid,' you stop your flow of ideas. We can't have the next generation be so afraid because they have been attacked."

Zooey Deschanel Marie Claire Cover
Marie Claire's September cover with Zooey Deschanel Zooey Deschanel covers the September 2013 issue of Marie Claire.

The TV star — who also fronts the indie band She & Him — says she hopes people will become kinder and less critical. Given her past experiences, however, Deschanel concedes it will take some time before people take her seriously.

"My theory is that people in this day and age want to dismiss things. So they want to be able to dismiss you. They say, 'You don't belong, you don't deserve this because here's why, and let me find an intellectual argument for why you wearing pink or cuff sleeves or a bow makes you not worthy of your accomplishments. Everything you've done doesn't matter because you wore the wrong thing or you speak in a way that's feminine or you identify yourself as feminine.' And I just think that's bullsh-t," she says. "And smart people are doing it, and that's surprising to me. I'll give them being smart, but they're being very shortsighted."

The once-wed actress, now dating screenwriter Jamie Linden, continues, "It's just attacking who I am. A lot of times it doesn't have to do with what I get paid to do. It has to do with, 'Oh, you stupid person.' Even I get slammed and overwhelmed by how negative the internet can get, and I'm an adult. I don't pay any mind to it, but it's pretty shocking how when you give people anonymity — it's like the worst of human nature."

Even offline, Deschanel says she gets "overwhelmed" by large groups of people. Her idea of heaven on earth, she tells Marie Claire, is "being on a farm, with horses, farm animals, and dogs. Select people, some food, and maybe some music. That sounds really great."

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