Zooey Deschanel was born on 17 January 1980 in Los Angeles, CA. She and her older actress sister, Emily, were raised by their father, Caleb, an Oscar-winning cinematographer and their mother, actress Mary Jo. Deschanel, whose first name was taken from the male Zooey Glass character of J.D. Salinger's story Franny and Zooey, often spent her young years hanging out on film set locations - despite the fact that deep down, Deschanel wished for a typical, sedentary family home life.
Deschanel attended the elite prep school Crossroads in Santa Monica, CA alongside future co-stars Kate Hudson and Jake Gyllenhaal, where she discovered an interest in singing and musical theater; at one point, considering a career in jazz singing on Broadway. At 16, she appeared as Little Red Riding Hood in the North Hollywood-based Interact Theatre Company's production of "Into the Woods.
On the heels of "Terabithia," Deschanel moved to the Sci-Fi channel, embodying a Dorothy-esque figure named DG in "Tin Man" (2007), a very twisted take on "The Wizard of Oz." Tweaking the beloved Judy Garland model would seem like a cakewalk compared to portraying the life of a real icon, but Deschanel's trademark lower timbre would come in handy as the tragic singer/songwriter Janis Joplin.
The subsequent "Gospel According to Janis" (2008) - one of several competing Joplin films - promised to usher the singer-actress into a new level of recognition. Before that project went into production, she starred in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" (2008), a dark apocalyptic thriller about a family that flees a natural disaster threatening humanity's very existence.