By Robert Isenberg
Special to MSN TV
She's an actress. She's a singer. She's the girl that bespectacled guys dream about in physics class. Zooey Deschanel does blockbusters, and she does indie movies. She stars in sitcoms, and she makes jokey videos for Funny or Die. She's a comedian, a cute friend, a dramatic lead and a lifelong singer.
At only 32, Deschanel has done pretty much everything you can do in Hollywood. And yet, like an Etsy crafter in Jo-Ann Fabrics with ADHD and an unlimited credit card, Deschanel still finds crazy new projects to try, because there's no time like the present, and today, in 2012, all eyes are on her. She's quirky and cute, yes, but she also seems to amble into one off-the-wall scheme after another.
The latest: Deschanel is hosting "Saturday Night Live" -- for the first time.
Deschanel seems to do everything backwards: first a movie star, then an independent film icon, then an alt-country musician ... and now she's got a prime-time TV sitcom. The girl who once dreamt of becoming a Broadway diva has instead become an actress, vintage songstress, comic and talk-show personality, and if 2012 turns out to be anything like 2011, she'll barely have time to tie her shoes. (Although being single again might help).
In honor of Deschanel's first "SNL" appearance, we offer a glimpse of the hipster-princess' life -- from shy teenager to global celebrity. And here they are: (11,700) Days of Zooey.
1980: Zooey Claire Deschanel is born in Los Angeles. Her film-industry parents name her after Zooey in the J.D. Salinger book, "Franny and Zooey." Curiously, the character in the novel is a man.
1980s to 1998: Deschanel attends private school in California. She later claims not to have made many friends as a teenager, preferring to be a homebody, but high school buddies include Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson. An avid singer, she has dreams of a career in musical theater.
Early 1990s: Deschanel attends the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, a kind of summer camp for drama club kids.
1980s to present: Gluten-intolerant and allergic to soy products, Deschanel becomes a lifelong vegan.
1998: Deschanel enrolls in Northwestern University, but acting aspirations get in the way of studies, and she quits before the year is out. She nabs a small role in "Veronica's Closet," a short-lived sitcom about neurotic women at a lingerie shop.
1999: Although "Mumford" is a forgettable movie, Deschanel's first big-screen appearance begins a long career of indie-films. She lands major roles in "Almost Famous," "The Good Girl," "Big Trouble," "All the Real Girls," "Winter Passing," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and a half-dozen others. Critics laud her for her deadpan delivery and quirky appeal.
2000 to 2008: After her movie debuts, Deschanel makes a side-career out of TV cameos. Over the course of a decade, she appears in "Frasier," "Cracking Up," "American Dad!", "Weeds," "Bones" and "The Simpsons."
2001: With Samantha Shelton, Deschanel starts playing around L.A. with their two-woman cabaret show, "If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies." Showcasing their wit, vocal talents and love for retro music, "Pretty Babies" earns a cult following.
2002: After only three years of acting, Deschanel is declared one of Hollywood's "most sought-after young stars" by the New York Times. However, Deschanel expresses discontent over her smarmy-sidekick roles, and yearns for more leads.
2003: Deschanel appears in "Elf," beginning a trend of fun, young-adult fantasy movies -- "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "Bridge to Terabithia," and the TV movie "Tin Man," in which she plays an updated version of Dorothy.
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