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August 5, 2013

Zooey's Moment

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Photo Credit: Tesh

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Deschanel attracts no notice at the museum, a fact that she loves. (Later, we would discover the exhibition she was looking for was online only.) Stepping into a tiny theater, Deschanel is in and out in less than 25 seconds. "I get very overwhelmed by crowds, especially of strangers," she says, adding that Union Square and Times Square freak her out. Even driving in L.A. past the hordes on Hollywood Boulevard is stressful. Her idea of heaven on earth is "being on a farm, with horses, farm animals, and dogs. Select people, some food, and maybe some music. That sounds really great."

Select people? On an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman the previous night, she showed a picture of her rescue dogs and mentioned that "my boyfriend" took it. She leans over to look at my list of "her boyfriend" questions, which she wants to skip. "I will say we got the dogs together, and he loves them very much." When the couple visited the Black Dahlia house in Los Angeles, where some believe Elizabeth Short was murdered in 1947, all of a sudden they were "house-hunting." "We saw it just to see a Lloyd Wright house," she says. "Just because you go see a house doesn't mean you're going to buy it."

Is having children on her priority list? "I'm not going to answer that question. I'm not mad at you for asking that question, but I've said it before: I don't think people ask men those questions."

What has she—

"Learned from being married and divorced? I will say this: Whether you're married or not, if you're in a relationship, you have to wake up every day and say, 'I want to stay with this person.' You have to make the commitment every day and every second and every minute." 

After her divorce from Gibbard, her financial records were splashed across the Internet, from her income to credit card balances to how much she spent—and on what—every month. "Here's the thing about that," she says. "It is the law that you provide financial records, and they are public record. A lot of people said my lawyer made a mistake, and I want to say that my lawyer is a great lawyer, and he did not make a mistake. It felt weird, but I feel OK about how I've handled my finances. It felt like a violation, but once you get over it, you go, 'Well, if it's out there, it's out there.'"

Out there, too, is the mini backlash that once briefly threatened her. TV critics mocked her "adorableness" in the blogosphere. Then in 2011, she was hanging out with actor Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) and her business partner, Sophia Rossi, with whom she cofounded a TV production company and a humor website for girls, HelloGiggles.com. Deschanel was a Twitter neophyte (she has 4.5 million followers now) when she noticed that cutesy things like a kitten hugging a baby were what got the most retweets. She bet Schwartz and Rossi that if she tweeted "I wish everyone looked like a kitten," she would get 100 retweets in 10 minutes. "I did, and then a lot of people were like, 'What the fuck! Who said that? How stupid you are.'" Comedian Julie Klausner denounced the tweet on Tumblr, declaring that Deschanel's girlish image was bad for women. (Klausner later toned down her remarks.) "My theory is that people in this day and age want to dismiss things. So they want to be able to dismiss you," Deschanel says. "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 bullshit. And smart people are doing it, and that's surprising to me. I'll give them being smart, but they're being very shortsighted.

"It's just attacking who I am," she continues. "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.'" Part of the reason she started her website was to create a positive place online for girls. "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."

Snark, gossip, and cursing aren't allowed on HelloGiggles. "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. 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."

So if she's doing the site for the next generation, is she doing the rest for fame, fortune, and beautiful lovers, as Freud said of all artists? "No," she says, laughing. "I'm in it because I like creating things. Freud missed the mark sometimes." 

Pick up the September issue of Marie Claire when it hits newsstands on August 13.


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