When Zooey Deschanel was a little girl, she listened to children's music by Harry Nilsson, Carole King and others — and those songs remain on her playlist today.
So when the actress and She & Him singer was tapped to write the closing song for the new "Winnie the Pooh" movie, she sought to set that same kind of standard for her tune.
"I wanted something that a kid could see now, and then hear in like 15, 20 years and still like the song, and something that their parents would like when they see the movie," Deschanel said in a recent phone interview.
The result, "So Long," is a whimsical ditty, one of three songs that Deschanel croons for the animated film, in theaters Friday. (She also sings the classic theme song, "Winnie the Pooh.") She describes the song as "not too modern but not too old-fashioned," which could also apply to Deschanel.
The 31-year-old is known for her quirky performances in films including "(500) Days of Summer" and "Elf," as well as her musical career with M. Ward as part of the retro, folky-pop duo of She & Him. Though considered left of the mainstream, she has a chance to connect with the masses this fall on "The New Girl," a Fox TV comedy.
Deschanel talked with The Associated Press about all things "Pooh," her new series and her next role — as an aunt.
AP: Were you a big Winnie the Pooh fan?
Deschanel: I was. I feel like if you asked me when I first heard of Winnie the Pooh, I don't remember, because it's so much a part of my childhood. ... I feel like it would be weird if I didn't love Winnie the Pooh.
AP: Is writing for movies different from what you do with She & Him because of all the visual elements?
Deschanel: As far as lyrically, you want to hit the point and hit the themes without being too specific, because if you're too specific, for me, No. 1, it's very unsubtle. You have to walk a line lyrically ... I want it to feel like the movie without it being about the movie. You take the themes into account, but you're not telling them what happens in the movie. They just saw the movie, they don't need to be told what happened.
AP: When can we expect a new album from She & Him?
Deschanel: Well, we're working on something now, but I'm not allowed to talk about it just yet.
AP: Are you excited about jumping into television?
Deschanel: I am. ... When I got the script, I thought, well, you know, it's so rare, just even in the world of movies, to get a really great role, and to get a great role that I get to like, play for a long time, is so exciting, and I feel like, I just don't get these kind of roles.
AP: Has your sister Emily (who stars in Fox's "Bones") given you any advice about the world of television?
Deschanel: Yeah, she's been really great and really generous about offering me advice, and we're on the same network, so she knows everybody involved and everything, so she's been a really great person to talk to in the whole experience.
AP: Will people see a different side of your character?
Deschanel: I feel like it's very different for me, but it was like a weird uncast part of my self, so it was very fortuitous that it came along, because I feel like it was a part of myself that no one had ever wanted me to play before but that I'm so excited about, and I feel that there are so many possibilities.
AP: You're going to become an aunt soon (Emily Deschanel is pregnant). What are you looking forward to the most?
Deschanel: I think that it's going to be really fun. I have no idea because I'm like the youngest of all of my family, like cousins and everything. ... I have no experience with like, children at all. I mean, I love kids, but I never had to take care of any kids, so I'm kind of excited about it (laughs). ... It will be just cool to be an aunt, and hang out with the baby and then give it back (laughs).
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Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the music editor for The Associated Press. Follow her on http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi