To some she’s the epitome of twee – and yes, she has been known to strum a ukulele. But to plenty more, Zooey Deschanel is one of the most engaging entertainers in the US, hopping back and forth from acting to music with a lightness and sense of genuine fun that few actor-musicians manage. As her duo She & Him release their new album of Beach Boys covers, she’ll be taking on your questions.
Deschanel is well established enough that she has a different defining performance depending on who you ask. Her gift for wry amusement at romance – she has a great line in deadpan stares – had a natural home opposite Will Ferrell in Elf and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, while she deepened The Happening, The Good Girl and All the Real Girls with her capacity for intimacy and seriousness. And while she has been given some slightly underwritten pal/girlfriend roles of the years, she got a glorious long-form lead in the sitcom New Girl, stretching out into seven seasons of exasperated screwball comedy.
Deschanel has frequently sung on screen and was nominated for a Grammy for a song she wrote for the 2011 film adaptation of Winnie the Pooh; she’s been linked to a stage adaptation of Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter and a film of Janis Joplin’s life, though neither came to fruition. But her singing gets its best showcase in She & Him, formed with American singer-songwriter M Ward in 2008, and alongside her acting career the pair have released six albums (including two Christmas LPs) – the versatile Deschanel can do girlish indie and 60s pop with the necessary sparkle, but also has a melancholic deeper register for country laments and lounge ballads.
Their seventh album, Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson, is out 22 July and features their take on Beach Boys numbers including Wouldn’t It Be Nice and Don’t Worry Baby, while Wilson, who has called the She & Him covers “mind-blowing”, appears on their new version of Do It Again.
As she and Ward prepare the release, Deschanel will join us to answer your questions – post them in the comments below, and her answers will be published online and in our Film & Music section on Friday 22 July.