I had a great chance to listen in on a conference call with BONES star Emily Deschanel and her sister Zooey, who guest stars in tonight’s all new episode as a long lost relative of Dr. Brennan, a woman named Margaret. Their relationship seems very much like the relationship I have with my sister, so it’s always fun to listen to them chat! Read on for some great information from them!
Of course, an obvious question would be what was it like working together as sisters?
Zooey: It was fun.
Emily:: It was great; especially I think that first day was less hectic. We had a scene. It was just Ryan O’Neill and the two of us. It was really nice. It was great. We’ve never worked together before, except for our own plays that we’ve done together, right?
Was it like a learning experience as far as did you guys learn anything about each other that you didn’t know before during the process?
Zooey: …..things about acting, wouldn’t you say?
Emily: Yes, right.
Zooey: I don’t know if I would say I learned anything. But I definitely had a really good time.
Now so close to the holidays, is there a memorable Christmas that you two as sisters can look back on with fond memories, any traditions or anything?
Zooey: Emily likes to sleep in on Christmas morning and I like to wake up early, so Christmas was a day of compromise.
Emily: Yes, for sure.
Zooey: I don’t know if there was any Christmas that comes to mind. I know that we both love Christmas.
Emily: They all kind of blend together.
Zooey: Yes, exactly. I think that Christmas is always used at any point in the year to cheer us up, like each other up. We would use that to cheer each other up if we were in a sad mood or something, we’d just start talking about Christmas. So we always have loved Christmas. I don’t think there’s any particular Christmas that comes to mind.
Which of the two of you was the first to be turned on to acting? Did one of you liking it in the other or how did it work for you two?
Zooey: I feel like even though I’m younger, I started working first professionally, but we both were interested in acting as kids. Emily finished school first.
Emily: I think we both loved doing plays since we were really young. But I didn’t think of it as doing it as a profession. I think Zooey knew she wanted to be an actress from when she was very young. Whereas I didn’t think I wanted to do that—
Zooey: Yes, you wanted to be an architect.
Emily: Yes. So I held on to that dream for a while.
Zooey: I think you liked the way it sounded, maybe.
Emily: No, I love architecture. I just love the combination between art and science, I guess.
Emily: Engineering, exactly, mathematics. So I don’t know, but then I started doing plays in high school and really loved it and considered it as a profession as I got later in high school.
Do you watch each other’s work to keep up with it or if she’s working, she’s fine?
Zooey: I think we try to do as much as we can. Emily, obviously, being on a show, there’s so much more output. I mostly do movies, so it’s like I’ll come out with something like once or twice a year and Emily has something on every week. So it’s a lot to keep up with, but I try the best I can.
Emily: And I try to see pretty much everything Zooey does. Some things are harder to see because they’re either—they only have a limited release or whatever.
Zooey: I think we’re relaxed, but we try to—
Emily: We’re supportive, but not fanatical.
Are there any other successful sibling sisters that you guys admire, siblings or sisters?
Zooey: Dylan Fontaine and—
Emily: They did not get along, though.[deadpans] The Kardashians, of course.
Zooey: The Olson twins.
Emily: That’s such an interesting question—I’m trying to think, there’s the Arquettes. They’re cool. We like them. I don’t know. My mind goes blank.
There’s Sienna Miller and her sister Savanna.
Zooey: I don’t think I know her sister.
She designs their clothing.
Emily: She’s a designer.
Zooey: Oh, okay. So it can be beyond—
Zooey: I like those sisters who design Rodarte. They’re cool.
Emily: I didn’t know sisters designed it. I think that there’s—I don’t know. I guess the Arquettes in terms of actors, but I don’t know. I think it’s limited. I don’t know, yes. It’s not like I’m going around thinking of all the sibling sisters that we can admire, so it’s hard to think of that, I guess.
Is there something in your DNA or what have you that you guys think helps makes you guys successful?
Zooey: It’s hard to separate nature from nurture.
Emily: Yes, because we both grew up in the same household. I think of things that are more nurture in that, we grew up in a household where our mother is an actress, so our parents couldn’t really tell us not to be actors, because that would be hypocritical. But yet we were also—saw a lot of actors, family friends and our mother. We saw lots of people struggle. It’s a hard business. It’s a hard profession to pursue, so we didn’t have any delusions, I guess, about it going in, so we knew that we had to be really perseverant and work hard.
Zooey: I think, too, there was no sense that this wasn’t a job that you had to work at. There was no delusion of glamour, really.
Emily: Yes, I think a lot of times people go into the profession and think that it is about glamour. It is about—that it’s easy, an easy job to do. That’s it’s easy to get jobs. I think we never thought any of those things.
Zooey: That it’s all about how you look.
Emily: Yes, there’s so many things people think about acting that we knew the reality. I think we both just fell in love with acting and performing and all of that. So I don’t know. I think that that really helped certainly. And it’s nice to have family who understands what you’re going through when you’re going through it.
Now that you guys have acted together, would you consider recording some music together?
Emily: You’d have to ask Zooey if she’d be willing to record something with me.
Zooey: We’ve never done music together so much, not something I’ve ever considered. Emily is a very good singer, but I hadn’t thought about it, so I don’t know.
Emily: So, no, we haven’t considered it.
Emily, the BONES Christmas episodes, they’re always really special and bring everyone together. How do Booth and Brennan grow closer this Christmas?
Emily: That’s a good question. It’s so funny because we’re several episodes beyond the Christmas episode, so I have to think back. I think that the episode brings up a lot of questions for Booth and Brennan. Brennan opens up and has a new level of compassion that you’ll see in the episode. I think any time characters have a breakthrough on some level, that either Booth or Brennan has some kind of break though, then that brings both of us together. I think that brings us closer and you’ll see in the episode Brennan has a new level of compassion and starts to have a paradigm shift in how she’s looking at certain situations. So Booth holds her hand through that. I think when you go through something, it changes you, it’s profound in a way. And if somebody is there helping you, that brings you closer together. I think that’s definitely what happens in this episode. Christmas brings people together, so as much as Brennan resists that aspect, she usually ends up together with people in the end on Christmas.
I’m just curious. Why has it taken until now for you two to work together professionally?
Zooey: I think that we’ve had different career paths. It seems weird, but it’s sort of difficult to schedule. I talked about doing a BONES episode for a couple of years now, but it never ended up working in my schedule because with films, you end up getting a job and you have to leave and go somewhere the next week sometimes. For instance, when we shot this a couple weeks ago, we had scheduled it thinking that I would have two weeks off after I came back from Ireland. I was shooting a movie in Ireland. I ended up having to stay there another eight days or nine days. So I literally came back on Friday and we started shooting on Tuesday or something. They were packed up against each other, so it’s hard to schedule. I think that both of us like to let each other have our space because there’s a certain—there’s always the one thing that I would fear of working with a family member is you always want to make sure you don’t bring any silly bickering or anything like that to the set. We don’t really do so much anymore, but you worry that it will bring up your little family things. I was hesitant, not hesitant, but I just wanted to make sure that everything was right. It was really fun. Emily was extremely welcoming and accommodating and very sweet. It ended up being really fun. I was glad I did it.
Is the story at all open-ended for you or is this strictly a one-off?
Zooey: I don’t die at the end of the episode.
Emily: Don’t give anything away now. I’m joking.
Zooey: It’s Emily’s set. I like—
Emily: We’d love to have you back.
Emily: Anytime, so I think it is open-ended. I think it’s open-ended for a reason. We’ll see. It took us five seasons to figure out when Zooey could come on the show and it may take five more seasons.
Zooey: Season ten.
Emily: We’re so happy it worked out. It was something we’ve been trying to do for the beginning, but it’s scheduling. It’s hard.
I wanted to ask how involved were you coming up with a character that Zooey would play? Did you guys get any input about that she would be a relative of Brennan’s and anything like that?
Emily: Hart came with the idea. He had the idea for a Christmas episode and told me some things about it. That she would be my relative, one of the two living relatives in my life.
Zooey: See, I never signed on—they said do you want to do it and this is the time when we could do it. It seemed like, good with my schedule, but I’ve never ever said yes to anything without reading, knowing what the character is first. So it was a little bit scary for me because, obviously, I knew all the writers on the show are really good. And that they weren’t going to hang me out to dry, but—
Emily: Put you in a compromising position.
Zooey: It was a leap of faith, because I’m just not used to that. But they were very receptive and let me give some of my ideas and we were able to come up with a cool character, I think.
Does the relationship mirror at all your real life relationship?
Emily: No, not at all.
Emily, just for you, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the storylines of this season. The show has really kind of directly addressed the Bones Booth romantic aspect of the show and their relationship and Booth coming to terms with his feelings for Bones. I just wanted to ask you what you thought of this new direction the show seems to be going—maybe not new, but more forceful that it’s been before about their potential romance.
Emily: I think it makes sense. We’re in the fifth season of the show where the two characters have this chemistry together. Yet nothing has happened and I think that it’s a great way to explore this relationship and take it to another level without actually necessarily having some physical connection, I guess, to put it that way. I think it’s clever. I like this aspect. It takes the relationship in a new direction and it takes it to a deeper place. The fact that both Booth and Brennan had that—well, Brennan wrote the book while Booth was in the coma and then Booth had the coma dream that was inspired by the book. The fact that it didn’t happen in reality almost doesn’t matter that much because it happened in their minds and they can’t get it out of their minds, especially we’ve been exploring Booth because his feelings are a little more on the surface. I think it’s an interesting dynamic and I welcome it. I think it’s a clever way to deepen the relationship and explore the couple in a new relationship in a way. It’s almost like a new relationship.
My question for the both of you. Is there any type of romantic flirty thing going on between Margaret and Booth?
And also, any other upcoming guest stars that you would like to share with us?
Emily: Other guest stars? We had Richard T. Jones do an episode, Diedrich Bader came back and is doing an episode. I’m trying to think of other people who were doing the show. Those are the two that come to mind off the top of my head. Richard T. Jones is an episode; it’s really interesting when we get locked into the lab by these government agents. They’re insisting that we tell them cause of death with these bones that they brought. We start investigating and there are a lot of things lead us to believe that the bones, the remains that they brought are that of John F. Kennedy. So we go into what happened with the Kennedy assassination, so that’s a fun episode that Richard T. Jones is in and actually Diedrich Bader is also in that episode.
So you’re both very accomplished actresses, but was there any kind of—did the older sister, younger sister dynamic play a role on the set at all?
Zooey: It’s more like it was Emily’s set, so I was happy to be working for her to some degree, I guess. You’re a producer on the show, so—
Emily: I guess that’s true. You are performing—you’re one of my favorite employees.
Zooey: Thanks. So, it was actually really very smooth and I had a great time. I loved working with Emily. It was really fun.
Were there any other non-BONES related collaborations that you would like to do? Are there any scripts or anything that you ever think that would be great for the two of you to work on?
Emily: We don’t have anything like that.
Emily: Besides this experience, our business, we have our own relationship that has nothing to do with business.
Zooey: Yes, I think it’s better. It’s so fun to do BONES, but I think it’s like in a lot of ways, it’s just nice that I can stand back and just see Emily and be proud of her and stuff without having to be in business so much. I just feel like it makes more sense for us to both have our own little things that we do and—
Emily: We can be supportive, but we don’t have to work together.
Zooey: Exactly, yes, the less politics involved in your relationship, you don’t want—I always think it’s better to be able to be supportive from.
Emily: From a distance.
Zooey: I think it adds stress to the relationship do something like that. I just think that we don’t need that. It’s better to have a relationship and have that stress with other people.
That’s all the time we have for questions. Do you have any concluding remarks?
Emily: And in conclusion, we enjoyed working together.
Zooey: It was fun.
Emily: We had fun and hope to do it again sometime, but—
Zooey: But not for too long.
Zooey: But it was fun, it was really fun to watch Emily work and I enjoyed it and I’m excited to see the episode.
Emily: Me, too.
Zooey: Thank you, all.
Emily: Yes, thank you. They’re probably all gone. I feel like we’re just talking to ourselves, but thank you, all, for joining this conference call.