She’s quirky, eccentric, the perfect blend of upbeat and offbeat — and she’s always up for whimsical adventures to make brooding guys' humdrum lives a little better.
She’s the “manic pixie dream girl” story trope, a stock character that filled indie rom-com plots throughout the aughts and a label that’s followed Zooey Deschanel ever since then.
But according to the 42-year-old actor, it’s a description that doesn’t fit who she really is.
“I don’t feel it’s accurate,” Deschanel explained when asked about that label during a reader interview with The Guardian. "I'm not a girl. I'm a woman."
And she's much more than the once-overplayed character type implies.
"It doesn’t hurt my feelings," she said. "But it’s a way of making a woman one-dimensional and I’m not one-dimensional.”
The 2009 film “500 Days of Summer” saw Deschanel embody a character many identified as a classic manic pixie dream girl, except she didn’t simply exist to fulfill what the male lead, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, wanted.
Spoiler alert: He wanted her, and she walked away.
Deschanel saw that as a strength, but she knows many fans of the film thought her character, Summer, was a villain for turning her back on Gordon-Levitt’s Tom.
"I got that take from day one," she said when asked about the reaction to her character's choice in the film. "It’s a very emotional response. People want the characters to be together, but that not happening makes the movie interesting. She is upfront that she doesn’t want a relationship, but he ignores her."
And Tom ignores Summer in other important ways in the romantic dramedy.
"The most telling scene is when she tells him: 'I’ve never told anybody that before,' and he makes it about himself," Deschanel recalled. "He is fixated on external details — such as her liking the Smiths — that has nothing to do with who she is as a person."
Meaning that Summer's decision to go her own way actually breaks the manic pixie dream girl mold.
Which is why Deschanel added, "To anyone who thinks Summer is the villain, I say: think a little deeper."