Date of Birth: January 17th 1980
She is the daughter of Academy Award-nominated cinematographer and director Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel (née Weir). Her sister, Emily Deschanel, is also an actress. Her paternal grandfather was French (her surname means "from the channels" or "from the little jugs") and the remainder of her ancestry is Irish. Her sister revealed in a recent French interview that when they were little they spent lots of summers near Lyon, France, where they still have family. The name "Zooey" (IPA pronunciation: ) was inspired by the male character of the same name in J. D. Salinger's novel Franny and Zooey.
Deschanel attended the Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California and French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, an elite performance summer camp located in New York. She attended Northwestern University before dropping out to pursue her acting career. She made her film debut in Lawrence Kasdan’s (1999) comedy Mumford. Deschanel then appeared as Patrick Fugit’s rebellious older sister in Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical Almost Famous (2000).