The Pinup of Williamsburg

Photo: Mark Seliger; Styling by Vanessa Shokrian at Celestine Agency; Hair by Aaron Light for Redken at Celestine Agency; Makeup by Jorjee Douglass for Rimmel at the Rex Agency; Blouse and tank top by Band of Outsiders; Special thanks to Milk Studio Los Angeles.

All eyes at the party train on her, the paragon of femininity in a formfitting white lace minidress and cascading brunette waves. “I’m not gonna lie. She’s the reason I’ve had bangs for seven years,” whispers one female guest. “Those eyes!” says another upon meeting her. “I kept thinking, If I had to die and I had to be looking at one thing when I died, it would be your face.

That face is the face smiling down from billboards right now—accompanied by the unfortunate tagline “Simply Adorkable”—advertising New Girl, the fall sitcom for which Fox is hosting this “tastemaker” screening at an old smog-check center in Culver City. She’s plastered all over subway and bus stops, too (“Boys will be boys. Jess will be Jess.”)—arms raised joyously ­skyward, head cocked, leg lifted, a cross between Mary Tyler Moore and your 10-year-old sister.

On the show, Zooey Deschanel’s Jess, following a truly humiliating breakup, answers a roommate ad from three single guys on Craigslist and moves into their downtown-L.A. loft, only to wreak havoc on their lives by virtue of her Jess-ness, which includes watching Dirty Dancing six times a day, sobbing uncontrollably, creating her own theme song—“Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!”—and trying to find rebound sex via the pickup line “Hey, sailor.”

Deschanel, 31, is a smoother cat, most of the time. But she’s not used to this sort of attention. Lately, drivers have started yelling out to her on the road beneath one of those giant signs bearing her image. She covers her face at the thought: “I’ll drive to work, and I’ll be like, ‘Aaaaahhh! Zooey, get away!’ Huh-hah. Heh.” Deschanel has a laugh like a rapid reverse hiccup.

If America at large knows her, it’s usually because she was in Elf with Will Ferrell or because people think she’s Katy Perry. She has a sizable and fervent following, though, among those who see something of themselves, or at least of people they know, in the sardonic wits and artsy flakes she plays so well. In the 2002 film The Good Girl, she was an eye-rolling Retail Rodeo employee whose sign-off at checkout is “Here’s your change, and fuck you very much.” In Our Idiot Brother, her most recent movie, she’s a Brooklyn bisexual living in a communal loft who yearns to be a stand-up comedian. But Deschanel doesn’t just portray indie culture onscreen. She, more than most of her indie-actress peers, seems to live it, too—less sardonically than sweetly—and the perception of her as a sort of standard-bearer for all things sincere and nostalgic (or mannered and twee, depending on your point of view) has made her a figure of both adoration and exasperation. She has a band, of course, a folk-rock duo with M. Ward. As half of She & Him, she sings Shirelles harmonies, plays piano and ukulele, and writes most of the songs—well enough that, as wrote in a stunned, positive review, she’s somehow avoided “a Hollywood archetype: the actor-turned-singer-turned-punchline.” Online, she declares her love of board games, baking, and karaoke to the almost 600,000 followers of her super-sunny ­Twitter feed, @therealzooeyd, and this summer she started a humor and lifestyle website called HelloGiggles for “smart, independent, and creative females.” Section headings include Cuteness and He Haw.

That’s why it’s almost a shock when she shows up at the party in a dress that seems so much more generically actress-y than her usual sixties vintage fare. She had to call on her stylist for emergency help, she explains. “I only found out last minute there were going to be cameras. I was going to wear this old dress I’ve worn to, like, eight events. Do you think this one is a little too … sexy?” She pronounces it “sax-EEE” and screws her face up into an exaggerated Lucille Ball expression of dread, as if she’s uncomfortable with the word even leaving her mouth. Still, she dutifully heads over to the tiny red carpet where reporters ask things like “Do you ever get mistaken for Katy Perry?” (“I literally met her twice six years ago,” she tells me. “It’s a strange relationship to have with somebody. I probably answer more questions about her than about my own family.”)

Skirting around the carpet is the real Jess incarnate: The show’s 29-year-old creator, Liz Meriwether, who wrote the pilot about the four years she’d spent “Craigslist surfing from sublet to sublet”—sometimes after horrible breakups, though she doesn’t like to talk about them. A playwright, she moved to L.A. to be a screenwriter, and she’s done well for herself, despite being, as New Girl executive producer Jake Kasdan says, a “hugely self-conscious extrovert” who actually does sing to herself when uncomfortable, just like Jess. Her incredibly raunchy first feature script, Fuckbuddies, was No. 6 on the 2008 Black List of the best unproduced movies in Hollywood (sample line: “I go on dick-­tasting tours of Napa Valley”); Ivan Reitman eventually neutered it into No Strings ­Attached. A 2009 New York Timesarticle featured her as the latest member of “Holly­wood’s New Power Posse,” a quartet of women writers, including Diablo Cody, who jokingly call themselves the “Fempire.” Meriwether is wearing black thick-framed glasses similar to Jess’s and has dirty-blonde hair with bangs much like Deschanel’s. She’s said of Deschanel, “I didn’t think I could find someone as weird as I am.”

Elsewhere on the premises, Deschanel’s husband, Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of the band Death Cab for Cutie, is tending to her mother, actress Mary Jo Deschanel (Twin Peaks), a wisp of a woman with red Harry Potter glasses. (Des­chanel’s cinematographer father, Caleb, is off working on Tom Cruise’s One Shot, and her sister, Emily, star of Bones, is eight months pregnant.) Other cast members working the room include Lamorne Morris, who arrives in episode two as a replacement for Damon Wayans Jr., who filmed the pilot as roommate Coach but is now starring in ABC’s Happy Endings. Then there’s John Mayer, who is apparently friends with Meriwether and who towers over everyone in a cream-colored rancher’s hat. Photographers insist that Deschanel take a photo with him. “I felt weird because I’ve never met him in my life,” she says afterward. “But he seemed nice.”

The lights dim and the guests quiet, including Mayer, who has just finished doling out some wisdom to the male cast on how to handle the attention of female fans while staying faithful to the women in their lives: “Sign tits. It’s okay to sign tits.” Moments later, he’s an afterthought, off behind a rubber tree doing some serious texting. All eyes shift back to Deschanel.

The inherent awkwardness of being watched while watching your show proves too much for Meriwether. She absconds when no one is looking. But Deschanel has nerves of steel. She also spends the entire screening clinging to her mother.

It’s going well—lots of laughs: Jess pulls the naked surprise on her boyfriend! While he’s with another girl! Then TMIs her roommate interview! Then five minutes in, the DVD freezes. They restart, and a few minutes later it freezes again. Each occasion is excruciatingly uncomfortable, hundreds of ice cubes clinking in the silence. Round one ends with Deschanel shouting, “Enjoy this moment, everybody! Don’t worry. If it doesn’t start again, we’ll do it live!” Round two ends with the most incredible, unladylike sound emerging from her lips, one that might be described as the joyous union of a bray, a bark, and a honk. Loud and obvious, it rolls through the stillness like a slow clap: “Huh-hah! Huh-huh-hah!” There’s only one response to a sound that ridiculous: laugh right back. Eventually the DVD plays. ­Deschanel stays at the party through the bitter end, giving good-bye hugs to guests she’d met minutes earlier. She and the show’s publicist briefly discuss a promotional trip. “Don’t worry,” says Deschanel. “I am going to go to New York, and I will sell this show.”

The show is an unusual sell for Fox, which is giving New Girl the most coveted time slot on its schedule, Tuesday nights following Glee. The network also released the pilot for free download on iTunes—a first for a broadcast network sitcom—two weeks in advance of its September 20 premiere as a way to build word of mouth. There have been plenty of comedies about single women in the city, but even Meriwether admits that Jess is the sort of character who’s always the friend of the lead. And neither Deschanel’s aesthetic nor her particular brand of creative expression seems like a ready fit for a major network sitcom, television’s equivalent of a pop song, far more Katy Perry than Zooey. Then again, USA Today just named it the best new show of the fall. And Kasdan says he’s never had a network get behind a show this way (though his perspective is pretty skewed, given that most of his experience was with Freaks and Geeks, a show that NBC “openly didn’t like. That wasn’t paranoia. They would tell us”). Rather than tone down Jess’s quirkiness, Meriwether says Fox president Kevin Reilly told her, “You have to keep this character as unique. You have to protect this character.”

Not to put too much stock in what focus groups think, but Meriwether tells me about the first one she attended: “It was a Friday night, and we had this group of just like sad, tired people from the Valley who came in and laughed the whole way through. That was an amazing feeling, when you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m getting through to a random assortment of people that you found on the street. It’s cool also that guys, at least so far, are finding it just as funny as women. They saw her as a little sister and just wanted to take care of her.”

In an ad hoc multiday survey of people who look like they’d have strong opinions about Zooey Deschanel, I found that men were less fraternal than lustful, really. “I like her eyes and her nose and her mouth and her skin and her hair and her voice and the way it all comes together,” said one. “She’s so hot!” said another. Why? “You mean besides her sapphire eyes and her amazing body?”

Photo: Mark Seliger

Meriwether jokingly crowns her “the pinup of Williamsburg.” She adds, “When we were interviewing guy writers, we’d be talking about the show and it’s very professional, and then all of a sudden their voices would get like really low and they’d be like, [breathlessly] ‘I love Zooey Deschanel.’ And I was like, ‘All right. It’s better for both of us if you hold it back.’ ”

Deschanel’s husband gets it. “I’d seen her movies and obviously I thought she was very beautiful,” Gibbard says. And when they finally met three years ago, through their mutual music manager, “I was just awestruck that she was even talking to me.” (Their second date: dressing up and going to the Ohio State Fair.) Now he plays gatekeeper. “Every once in a while, there’s a guy that tries to be charming and goofy. I’m just kind of like, ‘I’m going to wait this out and make sure it doesn’t get inappropriate,’ ” he says. Not that he wouldn’t expect to win the fight. “The male fans, they’re kind of like indie-rockers, stylish and fey. It’s very rare that a big muscle-y guy is like, ‘I love you, Zooey Deschanel.’ But who knows? Maybe the show will change that.” Meriwether says that during that focus group, there actually was “this one really big, sort of scary-looking guy who was just like, ‘Yeah, I like her!’ We were just like, ‘All right! Great! You want doofy female screwball comedy? I will give it to you!’ ”

Among women, Deschanel tends to be more polarizing. They either covet her bangs or they resent her for seemingly playing into the male fantasy that women are only attractive when they act like girls. Plenty of blog posts have used Deschanel as a launchpad for this very debate. Then there’s grumbling that while alt-heroines of the past (Winona Ryder, Parker Posey) had a kind of edge to them, Deschanel is all sweetness and light: not enough kohl on the lens.

In terms of selling New Girl, however, edge doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. During the show’s presentation at the Television Critics Association conference in August, male critics had a running Twitter theme about Deschanel’s adorableness. The Hollywood Reporter chief TV critic Tim Goodman (@BastardMachine): “Pretty sure I won’t be able to tweet anything about Zooey Deschanel w/o using the word ‘adorable’ a lot.” “If Jeff Zucker had let Zooey ­Des­chanel introduce him, he’d still be working in this business. We have been defanged by adorableness.” Time magazine columnist James Poniewozik: “A cartoon bluebird just landed on Zooey Deschanel’s shoulder. #tca #newgirl #adorableoverload.”

“When did you first realize you were adorable?” was an actual question during the TCA Q&A. According to, Des­chanel blushed and covered her ears, saying, “My mom told me when I get compliments to cover my ears.” The EW reporter, naturally, found this incredibly adorable. Or, as Goodman put it: “Hella adorable. No, really. It is.”

If you ask Zooey Deschanel’s friends to pinpoint the moment when they thought she might have what it takes to make it in showbiz, they’ll point to a particularly indelible eighth-grade talent-show performance of “I’m Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress.

“Oh, that was huge,” says the actor Jason Ritter, who’s known her since kindergarten. “It starts off very timid …”

“And then it’s like, ‘I’m shy!’ Like a huge Broadway thing,” says another friend.

“Everyone was there: from seventh grade to twelfth grade, like 1,000 people,” says Ritter. “And she just belts out this song. It was a real sort of Zooey coming-out. The rest of us were all trying to sort of find out who we were and to be cool, and she was just like, ‘This is who I am. I already figured it out. I’m this. Like it or don’t.’ ”

Zooey and Emily grew up on-camera, not because their parents wanted to groom child stars—indeed, they refused to let Zooey go on auditions until she was old enough to drive—but because that’s what happens when your dad is an Oscar-nominated cinematographer. “My dad would shoot twenty rolls of film on a trip to Italy,” says Zooey. She loved it; Emily, who spent most of childhood wanting to be an architect, not so much. “My sister was always like, ‘Don’t film me! I’m so cool.’ She was very James Dean about it.”

When Deschanel was 7, her family moved to the Seychelles while Caleb directed Crusoe. Their island had only one TV set. “It was definitely a difficult adjustment from, like, ‘Aaaaaahhh, Play-Doh! Everything in your face!’ to, like, a complete abyss,” she says. “But I guess it made me really imaginative.” There were two movies for rent. One was the first half of Gandhi; the second tape was missing. The other was This Is Spinal Tap. “I knew every line by heart.”

She dreamed of doing musicals on Broadway. “Then I was like, ‘Argh, but you have to be a good dancer and that’s kind of lame.’ ” Her manager, Sarah Jackson, spotted her at age 16 as Red Riding Hood in a 99-seat North Hollywood production of Into the Woods. Soon after, she landed her first onscreen job, a single-episode guest spot on Veronica’s Closet as a wannabe model with a hilarious, unidentifiable accent that was most certainly not in the script.

During Deschanel’s first year at Northwestern, she says, Sarah Polley dropped out of the role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous, and Kate Hudson took over for her, leaving an opening for Hudson’s original part, the older sister who assures the “Cameron Crowe” character that “one day you’ll be cool” as she runs away from home with her boyfriend but leaves all her records behind. The casting director remembered Deschanel from an earlier audition. “It was a divine stroke of luck,” Deschanel says, enough for her to quit school and move back to L.A. She didn’t want to find herself in the same position Emily had: having to compete with 17-year-olds at age 22.

“The fact that people are associating being girlie with weakness—that needs to be examined.”

She did seven projects over the next two years, and another four in 2003, including Elf and the lead role as an aloof heartbreaker in a small mining town in All the Real Girls, for which she got nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. “Everything happened really fast when I was younger,” she says. “It was a moment where I felt like I had to grab everything. I was just like, ‘Oh my God! I am so thankful and so happy that I actually get to do this.’ And then there were ups and downs and it was very confusing and I worked too much.” The downs, though Deschanel’s not one to name names, would no doubt include the M. Night Shyamalan flop The Happening. The biggest up—with an unanticipated downside—would likely be (500) Days of Summer, a sleeper hit in which she plays the complicated dream girl to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom, first bewitching him with her love of the Smiths. The movie, told almost entirely through Tom’s perspective, was “actually very misunderstood,” she says. “I can’t tell you how many guys, and girls, are like, ‘You did him wrong!’ What, she’s a bitch because she didn’t want to date that guy? So? Are we bitches because we have our own opinions? If that makes me a bitch, or that makes women bitches, then maybe we’re all bitches.”

The New Girl script came her way at a time that Deschanel was a little weary of the indie-film circuit. She’d already taken most of 2010 to tour with She & Him. She hadn’t thought seriously about doing TV—she’d never found a character she wanted to play for such a potentially long stretch. Jess, though, she liked. The show’s I Love Lucy sense of high jinks, too. Plus it was a chance to work with a female writer, which she’d hardly ever done, and to show off her ­physical-comedy skills, which in later episodes will include fending off an 11-year-old suitor on a wedding dance floor and leading a group of troubled youth in a hand-bell choir, impromptu choreography by Des­chanel. “I guess I felt like there was stuff I could do that nobody knew I could do,” she says. “It’s rare that the ladies get to be funny in that particular way.”

On the set of New Girl, a battle is heating up between Deschanel and her trailer. “It’s the worst!” she says, harrumphing as she shows me its fake-wood insides. “I’m ­really trying to make it cute in here. It’s really hard. It’s just so—ugh—brown!” Her assistant, Lexi, pipes in. “It could at least look like something that’s not a dentist’s office,” given that Deschanel is working sixteen-hour days. But painting or wallpapering makes ­her nervous, especially since the long-term fate of New Girl is unknown. Her solution: draping every possible surface in pink and red linens, many of which are printed with cupcakes.

Amid all the textile sweets, we eat lunch: a gluten-free salad. “I have, like, all these stupid food allergies. It’s pretty shitty,” she says. Briefly, she mulls over what to do with the painting of a pair of moccasins on the wall. It came with the trailer and is so hideous and comically southwestern that at first I thought Deschanel had put it there as a joke. Irony isn’t her style, though. “I’m worried if I pull these weird things down, they’re going to be mad at me,” she says. “So I’m trying to figure out something I can put oooooover this.” She demonstrates by holding up a picture of smiling lambs she happens to have lying around.

When asked about her adorability at the TCA, Deschanel replied, “I don’t know if I’m adorable.” But like “quirky,” the other term often used to describe her, it’s so clearly the foundation of her brand and has led to a number of endorsements, including TV commercials for the cotton industry. She also seems nicely self-aware about just how much of a demographic stereotype she is. Exhibit A: Deschanel likes to sew her own clothes. Exhibit B: She’s played the now-trendy ukulele for years, the instrument Ryan Gosling used to woo Michelle Williams in Blue ­Valentine. “Yeah,” says Deschanel, “I should have trademarked that.” Exhibit C: She made me a mix tape. Exhibit D: The day we first met, she was wearing flat saddle shoes because of an ankle injury she’d sustained while doing circus tumbling.

None of this is a secret. Deschanel openly broadcasts her nerdy-cool interests on Twitter, Tumblr, and the HelloGiggles site. The name “sounded like Hello Girls, and it made me laugh,” says Deschanel. The site started from a conversation between Deschanel and her friends Sophia Rossi, a producer, and Molly McAleer, a blogger and now writer for 2 Broke Girls, Whitney Cummings’s CBS sitcom about single waitresses in Williamsburg that also premieres this fall.* They all felt like there was no place on the web that reflected their tastes. Any woman who wants to contribute can. There’s just one requirement, says Deschanel: “Please don’t be mean about other people. Even if you’re really funny, I still don’t think it’s worth it. I have total respect for all of those other sites, but, yeah, snark is not our bag.”

Gibbard, who joined Twitter only after Deschanel persuaded him to (they tweet back and forth “I Heart @Gibbstack!!!”), says that Deschanel isn’t using her tweets or HelloGiggles as some clever way to shield the real Zooey from view. On the contrary: “I really don’t feel like there’s a lot of mystery about Zooey, you know what I mean?” he says. “I don’t mean that in the sense that she’s not a complex person. She is. But I feel that she has given the public and her fans a lot of who she is. And I think that’s part of her appeal. Who she is in private is a very similar person to the one you see in public.”

On June 4, Deschanel sent out the following tweet: “I wish everyone looked like a kitten.” It got retweeted “100+” times, and then was cited in a post that comedian Julie Klausner wrote, picked up by, decrying the trend of grown women who play ukulele, like crafts, and tweet about kittens. Klausner’s gist was that women who act girlie are “in it for the peen” and shamelessly trying to “broadcast to men that we won’t bite their dicks off,” and that their behavior is making it harder for the rest of us to get taken seriously. “The larger issue is that it is a lot easier for men—or even guys or bros—to demean us if we’re girls,” she wrote. “It’s much harder to bring down a woman, or to call her a moron, when she’s not in pigtails.”

By e-mail, Klausner (who herself has a very retro, sixties-inspired aesthetic) clarified her thoughts; she’d gotten a bunch of push-back from Third Wave feminists. “I meant that piece to be more of a celebration of the bygone adult actresses of yore (Geena Davis! Jessica Lange! Anjelica Huston! Kathleen Turner!) than an attack on cupcake culture, as though there is anybody who loves cake more than I do.”

Whatever Klausner’s intentions, the post sparked discussions and a post by blogger Tami Winfrey Harris. In “Who Is the Black Zooey Deschanel?” she wrote, “Frankly, I find a thirtysomething woman with a website called HelloGiggles and a penchant for tweets about kittens a little off-putting, as I would a grown man with a website called Girls Have Cooties and a Twitter feed about Matchbox cars. But then we find creepy in a man the kind of childishness we fetishize in women. I also find it worth noting that the persona that Klausner writes about is bound by class and race … The wide-eyed, girlish, take-care-of-me characters that Deschanel inhabits on film are not open to many women of color, particularly black women … Even black girls are too often viewed as worldly women and not innocents.”

The Kitten Tweet Heard Round the World was, Deschanel says, totally in jest: “My friends and I were joking about what gets retweeted the most and I said, ‘I bet you anything, if I say, “I wish everyone had a kitten face,” it will get retweeted 100 times.’ ” But it’s funny how often Deschanel is at the center of such fraught discussions, and if New Girl is a success, they’re bound to continue. (Already, online commenters are questioning the believability of someone as pretty and appealing as Deschanel playing a character so unlucky in love. Um, welcome to television.) “I think as soon as you try putting women in any sort of category, that’s where it goes wrong, that women should be this and women should be that,” says Meriwether. “If you feel upset with how cute someone is, maybe you should go outside and run around a little. Get some air.” Deschanel agrees. “That people equate being girlie with being nonthreatening … I mean, I can’t think of a more blatant example of playing into exactly the thing that we’re trying to fight against. I can’t be girlie? I think the fact that people are associating being girlie with weakness, that needs to be examined. I don’t think that it undermines my power at all.”

As I’m leaving L.A., I listen to Deschanel’s mix tape. The first time I met her in New York she was going off to D.J. an event with Gibbard (all LPs, of course), and I mentioned that I had a friend who had been feeling down and listening to “Do You Realize??,” by the Flaming Lips, on repeat. The song, with its lyrics, “Do you realize … that everyone you know someday will die?,” was a comically terrible choice. She needed something else. “I’ve got it,” said Deschanel. “Happiness songs are, like, my area.”

Three months later, I’d forgotten all about it when she walked into the Fox screening carrying a CD. Rather, her publicist was carrying it, but same difference. “You said you wanted happy songs, right?” said Deschanel. “Enjoy it; I hope that you love it.”

On it was the following, all songs produced between 1962 and 1979, only five by artists I recognized. As Gibbard told me: “I was immediately taken when we first met that she had this just, like, immense knowledge of really obscure music. I hate to say it, but it’s the kind of obsession that mostly dudes have. Like, ‘Oh, but Emitt Rhodes’s second record …’ Nerdy, lonely guys know about this stuff. She’s turned me on to a lot of music I hadn’t heard.”

1. “Rudy, a Message to You,” by Dandy Livingstone (the original 1967 ska version, long before the Specials made it a hit)
2. “Let’s Dance,” by Chris Montez, 1962
3. “Magnet,” by NRBQ, 1972
4. “Funny Funny,” by Sweet, 1971
5. “She’d Rather Be With Me,” by the Turtles, 1967
6. “Pushover,” by Etta James, 1963
7. “Be True to Your School,” by the Beach Boys, 1963 (Their early period, but, says Gibbard, “she’s really into late-era Beach Boys. For all I knew, the Beach Boys stopped making records after Pet Sounds. I’m a musician. I should know better than that. She was like, ‘You’ve never heard ‘Sunflower’? And she was, like, mad about it.”)
8. “Georgy Girl,” by the Seekers, 1966
9. “Yes We Can,” by Lee Dorsey, 1970 (a hit for the Pointer Sisters, it was remixed in 2008 for Obama supporters)
10. “Wonderful! Wonderful!,” by the Tymes, 1963
11. “Darlin’,” by the Paper Dolls, 1968 (a Beach Boys cover)
12. “Love Comes to Everyone,” by George Harrison, 1979
13. “After Hours,” by the Velvet Underground, featuring Maureen Tucker, 1969 (the song Lou Reed reportedly said was too innocent and pure for him to butcher)

Hearing the CD reminded me of how she had gotten very impassioned when I asked her if she and Gibbard bonded over music the first time they met. “I’m wary about this thing about being in the generation of social networking where people are like, ‘I am my musical taste,’ ” she said. “I am not just a collection of music. Or a collection of movies. I think that’s a thing that people romanticize: ‘Oh my God, she likes this band so she is a dream.’ I’ve definitely learned that you can easily get stars in your eyes. I’ll meet directors and they’ll be like, ‘I love Godard!’ And they love screwball comedies and they love all these things I love, and then it’s, like, ‘Wait a minute, that doesn’t mean they can make movies.’

“Just because somebody likes something doesn’t mean … anything, really.”

*This story has been corrected to show the correct spelling of Molly McAleer’s name.

Listen to the Mix Tape

Indie Actress Almost Famous Photo: DreamWorks/Everett Collection

Indie Actress Elf Photo: New Line/Everett Collection

Indie Actress The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Photo: Touchstone/Everett Collection

Indie Actress The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Photo: Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Indie Actress Yes Man Photo: Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Indie Actress (500) Days of Summer Photo: Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection

Indie Actress Your Highness Photo: Courtesy of Universal Studios

Indie Musician With M. Ward, Her Partner in the Band She & Him Photo: David Atlas/Retna

Indie Spouse With Ben Gibbard, Her Partner in Life Photo: Charley Gallay/WireImage

Indie TV Star? New Girl Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/Courtesy of FOX

The Pinup of Williamsburg