What can you say about Zooey Deschanel that hasn't already been said? She's lovely, she's talented — she's positively one of a kind.
Well, OK, she's not exactly one of a kind on the set of her newest film, "500 Days of Summer," where MTV News was treated to 16 identical Zooeys, including the genuine article herself, all dressed in the same blue dress with a cute little headband holding back their black, shoulder-length hair.
Now, 16 Zooeys aren't a common sight in downtown Los Angeles, especially just a few blocks away from Skid Row (or anywhere, for that matter). But then, neither is a Hall & Oates sing-along or a parade of dancers led by Deschanel's co-star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But wander onto the set of this new genre-twisting romantic comedy on any given day, as MTV did Wednesday, and you're likely to see all that and more, Gordon-Levitt playfully announced.
"I play the character of Tom. He's a hopeless romantic, a lovesick young man who falls in love with [Zooey's character] Summer, and he gets dumped," Gordon-Levitt revealed. "The thing is, the movie is all from the point of view of this guy, and this guy has watched way too many movies and listened to far too many pop songs. So his life becomes a pop song."
And he means literally: His character not only breaks out in song at several points but even leads at least two rousing dance numbers during the course of the movie, including an especially complicated routine after the couple spends their first night together.
"Yeah, the time he finally sleeps with the girl, it breaks into a dance number," Gordon-Levitt smiled. "I get to be that dude!"
"He just got the girl he didn't think he could get, and he wakes up the next morning and it's the greatest day ever," writer Scott Neustadter added. "That's where the dance number comes from. That feeling is something you can relate to. You've never been in a parade, dancing, but you can relate to that feeling of 'What a great morning it is' or 'I'm the center of the universe because I did what I never thought I could do.' "
Neustadter and director Marc Webb call it the "kitchen-sink mentality," the film's relentless pursuit of any sort of levity. But the singing, the dancing and the 16 Zooeys are all part of a master plan, Gordon-Levitt insisted, a style that takes its cues from romantic comedies like "Annie Hall" and "High Fidelity."
Whereas in most movies the plot forces the action forward, here the plot sometimes forces the action backward, or sideways, or not at all, the actor said, since the film isn't actually about what happens at all, but about how his character remembers what happens.
"It's a story chopped up into 500 days, but you don't see all 500 days from beginning to end, from the time they meet until the end of the story. It's not told in order. It's more like him thinking back on these 500 days with this girl, Summer. One day reminds him of another day," Gordon-Levitt explained. " 'I remember when I walked to work because I was all happy because we just had sex for the first time, and that reminds me of that day 100 days later when we'd already broken up and I was horribly depressed.' That's the way the story is told."
In the scene we witnessed, for instance, Tom is taking the bus the day after Summer breaks up with him. And as people still in love are wont to do, he begins to see her everywhere. Hence the 16 Zooeys, all fitting his idealized version of the girl he loves.
Silly? Absolutely. But that's just the way it should be, Gordon-Levitt said.
"Not that love shouldn't be overly romanticized, it should be. But there's a way to do it in a childish way, and there are ways to do it in a more manly way," he said. "I guess that's what '500 Days of Summer' is all about."
Check out everything we've got on "500 Days of Summer."
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