Zooey Deschanel is no stranger to on-screen dating. She won over audiences as Jovie kept in Elf, then like the fanciful summer in 500 summer days, and more recently, as New girlI ss, the eccentric girl next door, who became a roommate. But earlier this year, she traded fictional first dates for reality TV – as a co-host of ABC The Celebrity Dating Game, which she directs alongside Grammy-winning artist Michael Bolton. Tonight, the season one finale airs at 10 / 9c.
As soon as he was offered the role in February, Deschanel was there. “I loved every minute,” she told Bustle.
today The Celebrity Dating Game updates 20th century format – including a physical wall to hide people’s identities from each other – and offers a wry nod to modern dating via a list of famous singles. Deschanel played the role of matchmaker for guests like the former Bachelorette Hannah Brown, Iggy Azalea and Margaret Cho. In the middle of the episodes, Bolton sings parody songs with clues to the celebrity’s identity. (If the series is renewed for a second season, Deschanel “will definitely be in duet action,” she says.)
Below, the actress talks about her surprise personal matchmaker, Jessica Day and Nick Miller, and online dating.
Always wanted to host a show?
At the end of the day, I’m an actor first and foremost, so I was like, “I could play the part of a person who hosts a show,” which was fun. The whole thing was such a blast. I like something that doesn’t take itself seriously, and we certainly didn’t take ourselves seriously.
So, would you say the pandemic inspired you to take on this role?
Yes! The pandemic has made the job so difficult. Traveling for work and [other] things that weren’t difficult got extremely difficult – like, my friends should quarantine for weeks before you can start a show. So when it happened, I was like, “This is perfect and this is exactly what I want to do.”
Is it true that you shot the whole season in a week?
Yes, it was 10 to 12 hours a day. We were shooting four shows a day and each show was two hours long [long].
Hope you were wearing flats and not heels!
I was wearing heels! I was wearing heels.
Oy. Do celebrities and contestants really have dates afterwards?
Yes, love ties were definitely established. I wish I had been a fly on the wall. [Laughs.]
Did you feel the urge to persuade celebrities to choose the “right” person, according to your criteria?
I am not allowed to persuade in any way because it is against the law. It’s a federal crime for influencing a game show, so I was very aware of it. But there were a couple of times I could tell from someone’s body language that it wasn’t the right person. A guy just seemed there to meet Michael Bolton.
And a very specific question: at the end of each episode, you tell the unlucky candidates to “go get some ice cream”. Where does it come from, and is there any ice cream behind the scenes?
It was improvised. I was trying to think of something to say to someone who just got rejected, and I was like, If I were rejected, I would like to have ice cream. [Laughs.] I said it after a show ended, then a second time, and [the team] was like, “We love it, keep saying that.”
Bustle recently spoke to Jake Johnson, who spoke about New girl and Jess and Nick’s relationship. What do you think they would do today?
I’m sure they would always be together.
If Jess was a famous guest on The Celebrity Dating Game, who do you think she would choose: Nick, Winston or Schmidt?
That’s a very good question. Winston is the easiest to get along with and respectful. She would probably choose Winston.
I would choose Schmidt.
Schmidt is a bold choice!
Schmidt is literally my husband.
Wait, is he like your real husband?
Oh no. I’m single.
You did not find your Schmidt! Looking for your Schmidt!
This will be my new Tinder bio: “In Search of Schmidt. And last question: When you were actively in a relationship, did you find it difficult to meet people or use dating apps like Raya?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.