Zooey Deschanel Has Landed Her First Major TV Role Since New Girl Ended

Jess in Holt's office on New Girl crossover with Brooklyn Nine-Nine
(Image credit: Netflix)

For seven years, TV viewers were smitten with the quirkadelic charms of Jess Day & Co. in Fox’s hit comedy New Girl, but ever since the show ended in 2018, star Zooey Deschanel has avoided jumping back into scripted TV. Instead, she’s popped up in other places, such as on Carpool Karaoke, where she met her presumed future hubby Jonathan Scott, as well as hosting the ABC game show The Celebrity Dating Game. Now, the actress is at last making her way back to fictional narratives for a role that sounds like it’s mirroring her actual life.

Zooey Deschanel has been tapped to join the third season of the acclaimed Apple TV+ dramedy Physical, where she’ll take on a series regular role opposite star Rose Byrne. In the streaming series, Deschanel will portray a character named Kelly, the star of a network sitcom who is inspired to lend her efforts to the world of exercise and fitness during its 1980s boom. Expectedly, that new motivation in life will lead her to cross paths with Byrne’s Sheila Rubin, whose life and career took a bit of a nosedive at the end of Season 2.

Interestingly enough, the description from Apple’s announcement doesn’t fully indicate whether Kelly will be joining the fun on Team Sheila, or if she’ll serve as something of an antagonist. It would be great for Rose Byrne’s housewife-turned-aerobics-celeb to enjoy a string of successes when Season 3 kicks off, what with the second season ending on her step aerobics plan getting popularized elsewhere, causing her to spiral back into self-doubt. 

In that respect, there’s certainly a chance that Kelly will use her network TV fame to bring more attention to Sheila’s efforts. But then there’s also the possibility that Deschanel’s actress will be another high-profile roadblock for the main character to conquer. 

So we’re definitely here for that drama, but I’m already even more into this casting choice just from thinking about what kind of hairstyle Zooey Deschanel is going to rock in Physical’s third season. As well as what kind of leggings. And the earrings! Basically, I’m already hoping Apple TV+ crafts a “special feature” out of Kelly’s wardrobe and makeup sessions.

Before fans see Deschanel presumably lip-syncing to Bon Jovi, she’ll be heading back to the 1970s with Walton Goggins and Casey Affleck for the music-geared drama Dreamin’ Wild. She’s also starring in the upcoming theatrical adaptation of the classic children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon.

While the actress hasn’t yet shared anything on social media to celebrate her new gig, she did share this post on Instagram containing a video of duck’s rapid head movements, so there’s that. 

A post shared by Zooey Deschanel (@zooeydeschanel) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The first two seasons of Physical are available to stream with an Apple TV+ subscription, which also allows access to plenty of other great TV shows on the platform. Check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what else is popping up in the meantime while waiting for Season 3.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.