New Girl star and generally fairly quirky individual Zooey Deschanel is in the middle of some pretty serious legal wrangling at the moment, and she was dealt a blow this week, when a judge told her that it was her own fault she did not score a coveted film role in 2013.
The background to the case is fairly complex, but it all began when Deschanel was sued by her former manager, Sarah Jackson, over claims she failed to pay proper commissions on her New Girl salary and the sale of her successful website Hello Giggles.
Deschanel then counter-sued Jackson for breach of fiduciary duty, claiming that her former manager knowingly gave her bad advice. Specifically, she claims that Jackson told her to switch from CAA to UTA in order to settle a personal score, and that this move harmed her career.
The case is due to go on trial on March 27, but is appears unlikely that Deschanel’s counter-claim will be allowed to proceed, with an LA Superior Court judge finding that Zooey herself was largely responsible for her lack of acting work after switching agencies.
Judge Michael Raphael pointed to a 2012 email in which Deschanel said that she wanted “a very interesting small character role in a movie” while New Girl was on hiatus, but that she couldn’t commit to anything too big, as her band She And Him were preparing to tour.
In 2013, she was offered the lead role in an unnamed film, but turned it down over concerns that the part was too large. In light of this, the judge said that Deschanel had “limited her own availability” and “created a perception” that she had no time to shoot film roles.
A short time later, Deschanel was tentatively offered a part in the Bill Murray film St Vincent, but told that the blessing of producer Harvey Weinstein would be necessary. This did not happen, and the role in question eventually went to Naomi Watts.
The judge saw this as proof that “factors outside” Deschanel’s new talent agency could be blamed for her failure to get roles, “particularly, the unexplained absence of Weinstein’s approval.”
Deschanel also made various other claims about her former manager’s behaviour, citing an incident where Jackson “barged” into her dressing room with drunk strangers, but the judge was dismissive of these, saying that none of them resulted in financial loss or lost job opportunities.
The judge is still considering whether any aspects of Zooey Deschanel’s claim will be allowed to go ahead, but an answer is expected soon. Either way, she will still have to defend herself against the original lawsuit.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Image: Getty Images / Pascal Le Segretain