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Emily Deschanel

The Doctor Is In

by Jay S. Jacobs

In the second season finale of the popular series Bones, the main characters Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) ended a couple of years of flirtation standing together at a wedding altar in front of a clergyman and a chapel full of well-wishers.

Of course, like so much in the procedural medical crime series, not everything is what it originally seems.  Actually, they were supposed to be Maid of Honor and Best Man for their friends and co-workers Hodgins (TJ Thyne)  and Angela (Michaela Conlin).  The bride and groom have flown the coop when it turns out that she is still legally married after an ill-advised long-ago alcohol-fueled courtship.  Another friend and co-worker is about to be shipped off to Iraq, facing constant danger and possible death.  All of this going on can make people philosophical.

Therefore, when the camera took a pregnant pause over the Bones and Booth we all had to wonder.  They stood up there, just a little uncomfortable in the suddenly unused chapel, with a crowd of friends and a man of God all expecting for two people to be joined in holy matrimony.

So, are good doctor and the Fed registered somewhere?  Do they need any flatware?


“I can’t reveal anything,” Deschanel says coyly, just days before the third season premiere is set to air.  “Well, I think that whole ‘iconic image’ as Angela puts it was a little disconcerting for Brennan.  It’s an uncomfortable situation for Booth and Brennan in the next season, in the third season.  We’ll see how they work together – but it involves them going to therapy together and whatnot.  So no need to buy gifts just yet.”


Well, it may disappoint the die-hard romantics who watch the series, but it will probably make for better television.  We all remember the wreckage of TV series couplings who finally acted on a long-repressed passion – Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel; the list goes on and on.


In fact, her co-star Boreanaz had just told me about a year before – as the second season was about to bow, “It’s a fine line….  For me, I think it’s more interesting to have two characters who are flirting with that aspect of it, rather than having them done it….  They did it in Moonlighting and the series was over.  At the same time, I mean, who knows, maybe they can figure out how to write these two characters together and have them evolve.  But, personally, I enjoy the sparring that they have.  The possibility and intrigue of them hooking up and how they may do that, to me, is pretty interesting.”


A year on, Deschanel is not so sure she agrees with his assessment – though she does agree that it is a tricky proposition for the show.


“You know I think they should [give in to the passion] at some point,” Deschanel says.  “It gets really dangerous, though, to do it on the show.  I think that the writers and producers are very much aware of that and the dangers of putting characters together and what that can mean for the show.  You know, it’s possible it could kill the thing that holds the show together, the chemistry, sexual tension between the two characters.


“It’s a delicate thing, but our producers and writers are very much aware of the potential downfall that could ensue so I think they’re going to be very careful about how they do that.  At the same time I don’t think they want to leave the characters in the same holding pattern that they’ve been in for a while.  I think that they’re all trying to put the characters in a different situation.”


So for now, at least, is it business as usual at the Jefferson Institute, the Washington think-tank where Dr. Brennan and her co-horts solve Washington DC’s most inexplicable and often gut-wrenchingly horrific crimes?


Well, what is normal, anyway?

“Angela and Hodgins go looking for the man that she married a few years ago, which is the whole reason why they had to leave their wedding,” Deschanel says.  “She got married to a man in Fiji and so they go looking for this guy.  Zack comes back from Iraq, but we’re not sure for how long and he was discharged early and so that is an interesting thing that we’ll be exploring. 

“Tamara’s character, Cam, is no longer seeing Booth, but they kind of develop a friendship this season and she asks him a favor, to pretend to be her boyfriend for her dad’s birthday and there’s a little situation with Cam’s sister and Booth that you’ll see.  And Booth and Brennan go to therapy, couples therapy, because the FBI is concerned that they’re not able to work together because of tension after Booth arrested Brennan’s father.” 

Yes, this was another one of the big cliffhangers of the past season.  Brennan’s father, Max Keenan, who is played by 70s movie star Ryan O’Neal, finally appeared in her life after being on the lam for killing a Federal Agent for decades.  Bones had grown up thinking her parents were dead, but it turns out that they had to go underground because of the crime – which dad insists was a mistake and not a criminal act.  Years later she learned of their continued existence in the mortal world.  Mother had recently died, but she was finally able to track down her father.


This led to dysfunctional but willing attempts at reconciliation.  Max was a con man and had spent years successfully evading the law, but he wanted to make things right with his children and get back into their lives.  Brennan was put in the morally awkward position of working with the law and yet having to shield her own father from that same justice.  Finally, knowing that the only way to patch things was to face the music, Max allowed himself to be captured by her partner. 

So, in some strange way, will Max’s arrest help to solidify his relationship with his long-lost family? 

“Well, it certainly makes them address issues and it makes them say things head on, which I think is always a good thing,” Deschanel reasons.  “It can sometimes make people fold into themselves and kind of run away, but I think in this case these characters are being forced to face issues and emotions, feelings, that they have.  It kind of forces them to face it head on, which I think is a really interesting dynamic.  And I think it should be interesting and probably a good thing for the relationship.” 

In real life, Deschanel grew up in a show biz family.  Even as a little girl she was on sets with her father, famed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel.  So it is rather a thrill to her to be working so close with O’Neal, who was one of the biggest actors in the world as she was growing up. 

“I really love working with Ryan,” Deschanel says enthusiastically.  “He’s a great actor.  He’s very giving.  He’s so funny.  He really is one of the funniest people and he has great stories.  You know, absolutely he was a huge movie star and really a talented actor and I’ve always thought that and it’s been wonderful to have this opportunity to work with him and spend time with him.  He’s such a charming man, I have to say.  He just charms the whole set, everyone.  So I look forward to those days when he’s working.  He’s a really giving actor so it’s a joy to work with him.”


Another person she has gotten the interesting opportunity to work with on Bones is her own father, who directed an episode of the series last season and plans to do it again this year.  This led to an unique dynamic for Deschanel, but one that she enjoyed completely, but with slight trepidation.


“The first day working with my father was nerve wracking,” Deschanel admits.  “I was terrified that I would embarrass him or he would embarrass me and it was probably one of the more tortuous days of my life.  After the first day was under our belt, it was a great opportunity and I’ll always look back on that experience fondly.  It’s very nice to work with my father as a peer in a lot of ways.  You know, he asked me advice about certain things about the show and I’d ask him and sometimes I’d listen to his direction and sometimes I wouldn’t.


“Actually he’s a very talented director.  Not just his use of shots and camera, but he’s very good with actors and he knows acting well.  It’s great to see him do that and be really good at it and he’s been doing it for a while and he certainly knows how to make movies, and little movies I guess for a television show, and he’s going to come back in November to direct a second episode, which I’m really excited about.” 

Caleb isn’t the only other member of the Deschanel brood who found their lives revolving around television and film.  Emily’s mother Mary Jo has worked over the years as an actress, appearing in such films as The Right Stuff, The Patriot, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Breach.  Little sister Zooey has a busy movie career, playing significant roles in films like Elf, Almost Famous, Bridge to Terabithia, Live Free or Die Hard and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. 

With so many family members in one industry, it seems like it might be something in the genes.  Deschanel isn’t sure, though, whether an artistic temperament like this is passed down or not. 

“I guess it goes back to nature versus nurture,” Deschanel says.  “I grew up in a family; my mother is an actor, my father is a cinematographer.  I grew up visiting sets with my father and my mother so I was able to view the creative process from a very young age.  I was surrounded by that.  My father had us watching old silent movies from when we were very young, and watching just old classics all the time so we gained a love specifically for the art of cinema. It’s hard to say; certainly I was given an appreciation for that, but I think that was because I was exposed to things at a young age.


“I don’t think I have much talent in cinematography so I don’t know that I inherited that,” she continues, “but I think that my eyes were open to film and telling a story in that format and acting and all of the jobs that go into making a film.   You know it’s very much a gypsy type lifestyle in a family that, especially if you go with your parents where they’re filming and I certainly became accustomed to that type of lifestyle where you got up and you moved for months at a time, sometimes years at a time.  That’s not an uncomfortable thing to me.  That’s what I grew up with.


“I don’t know if artistic talent can be passed down, but I think that I certainly was exposed to things from a very young age.  It was presented to me that those were actual possible professions that you can go into, which I’m sure there are a lot of people that have no idea….  That’s a good question; I don’t know.  Some scientist has to figure that out for us.” 

Yet, Deschanel realizes that there is a life outside of acting as well.  During the break in filming, she was able to spend more time on her favorite cause: the prevention of animal cruelty.  Deschanel has been very involved in the Humane Society for years and feels that it is even more important in a time when animal abuse has been on the front pages with the cases of NFL quarterback Michael Vick and rapper DMX.  Deschanel has tried to stay on the front lines of this, even writing a passionate editorial on the subject for CNN.com. 

“If one good thing can happen from these cases being brought to light it is people opening their eyes to what’s going on and the cruelty that’s happening,” Deschanel says.  “I think a lot of people have spoken out and said that they are not accepting that.  It’s unacceptable.  It’s disgusting.  It’s also against the law and it’s unfortunate that dogs had to be abused and die in the process of these situations.  But I have to say people are becoming more aware of it and I’m hoping that this can be turned into something good.” 

Other than that, she just enjoyed her summer off.  Not in a typical Hollywood partying sense, mind you, but just enjoying being a normal person.  During the time off from Bones between seasons, while many TV actors scramble to fit in a movie role, Deschanel decided to take time off for the other things in life.  She was able to enjoy her down time, help out with her best friend's wedding (actress Melanie Lynskey of Two and a Half Men) and just chill a bit.  

“I like to read,” Deschanel smiles.  “I don’t have that much time outside of my job, but I have been fixing up my house.  I like to read, hike, things like that.  Not that exciting….”

That's okay.  She already has enough excitement in her job.

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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 26, 2007.

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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 26, 2007.