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Q&A Interview with BONES Star Emily Deschanel

Mike Vicic - February 8, 2013




Yesterday afternoon, TV Tango participated in a conference call with BONES star Emily Deschanel, who discussed the next episode, dished her thoughts about a Booth-Brennan proposal and wedding, and dropped knowledge about the new squintern.



FOX presents the next new episode of BONES, "The Shot in the Dark," on Monday, February 11th, at 8pm ET.

Brennan in "The Shot in the Dark"

Question: Can you talk about how Brennan will change throughout the season after this next episode?

Emily Deschanel: After watching the episode, I think that viewers will have a better idea of why Brennan behaves in the way that she does. [Why she] is kind of hyper-rational and has cut off her emotions in many ways, even though over the last few years she has opened up after knowing Booth. As the season goes on, it's a subtle change. It's not like people are discussing it or something right afterwards, but I think it will be addressed in later episodes this season. It is more a subtle change. It's shined a light on her behavior and kind of encourages her to change a bit. 

Emily Deschanel (cont): It's a big encounter. Basically, my character is shot and I have an encounter, which she believes is a hallucination, at least at first, where she is transported to her childhood home and she sees her mother. And [she] interacts with her mother, who is dead. Of course, she believes it's a hallucination. She has flatlined; so many people will interpret it to be that she's gone to heaven. Her interactions with her mother reveal things from her past. It affects Brennan now and encourages her to have a different perspective on her behavior and possibly encourage her to change it a bit.

Brennan stands over a dead body.

Question: Do you ever get grossed out by the bodies on the show?

Emily Deschanel: Yes, but not as much as I should at this point. I've become a bit desensitized, obviously, but, yes, I do get grossed out, for sure, by things.


The one we're working on right now is a burnt one, which is gross, but it's not icky gooey or something. Once you start thinking about how someone dies by being burnt, that's kind of horrible; so you just don't let yourself think about it too much. [Laughter] I guess that's why Brennan behaves the way she does.

Emily Deschanel (cont): Yes, I do get grossed out, but the ones that really affected me were earlier on in the series, and I think I really have become desensitized, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing, but it happened.


For research on the show, I have gone to the coroner's office, and that was much more disturbing to me than what we do on our show, because I know it's fake, and doesn't stink, like it does there.


Yeah, it can be definitely disgusting.

Brennan with her mother, played by Brooke Langton, in "The Shot in the Dark"

Question: What was it like to have this insight about Brennan's mother after eight seasons?

Emily Deschanel: It's an interesting thing to do a series for this long and to play a character [for which] things are revealed eight years in. I felt like it was in line with things I had in mind, and it didn't contradict anything that I had kind of imagined for her past.


Just for myself, when playing a character, I like to build a past for the character and kind of decide why she behaves the way she does, what her experiences are, and things that can remind her of things from her childhood.

Emily Deschanel (cont): This [episode] doesn't contradict anything, but it's certainly new information for me. I really enjoyed doing the episode, because it shed light on Brennan and her past, but also I really enjoyed having the interaction with her mother. What other kind of episode can you have an interaction with somebody who's dead? That's always been kind of a huge missing piece for Brennan, was her mother being gone and being able to talk to her mother about how she disappeared before she died.


Brooke Langton, who plays my mother in this episode, did such a great job. I really enjoyed working with her. She's just very inventive as an actor and very giving. It was really a good experience working together. It felt right to have her play my mother, and I really enjoyed that.

Ryan O'Neal as Brennan's father in "The Shot in the Dark"

Question: What can you say about the scenes with Brennan's dad, played by Ryan O'Neal?

Emily Deschanel: I think it brings up a lot of emotions for everybody. Booth and my father feel like they're losing me. I've been shot and I flatlined. He gives a wonderful performance in the scenes together.


Then, there's something revealed from my mother to my father that makes kind of a breakthrough, in a way, for him. There's a communication between my mother and father through my character. I don't know how to say it without revealing too much. I'm trying to do that dance of not revealing too much but to give you something.


It's an emotional episode for his character, and he does a beautiful job.

Pelant in "The Past in the Present"

Question: What's coming with Pelant?

Emily Deschanel: Well, obviously, Pelant is one of the first thoughts everybody has when Brennan is shot. Obviously, I'm not going to tell you whether he is involved or not.


I haven't read any episodes yet that involve Pelant, but we're just a couple of episodes ahead of that right now. I know that Pelant is coming back this season, but I don't have more information than that, because I think they're breaking those stories right now. I wish I had more information for you, but I don't.

Brennan and Angela in "The Skull in the Desert"

Question: Will Brennan have more scenes with Cam or Angela in upcoming episodes?

Emily Deschanel: Yes, I can't tell you what episodes. There's some kind of heart-to-hearts. We're overdue for even more connection between Angela and Brennan, I believe. I think we have some more of those.


Cam's romance is revealed. There's that, and Brennan and Cam interact about that.


There's more. I can't tell you what episode, because I can't remember what plotlines go with what other plotlines. You will see more heart to hearts with them, but I think we're due for even more. I think we put aside the long heart to hearts between Brennan and Angela, especially, and I think it's time to bring it back.

Question: How has being a mother changed Brennan? Does you being a mother affect that?

Emily Deschanel: If I wasn't a mother and I was playing a character that was a mother -- I've done that before -- you use your imagination. Of course, Brennan is a different mother than I am, but you have that biological response. You know what some of the things you go through are like, even the hormonal changes.

Emily Deschanel (cont): The minute you become a parent, I think that you're always going to wonder if you're doing something wrong. I certainly experienced that [laughing]. It's a big challenge, I think, because I personally think it's probably a bad thing for a parent -- you don't want your child picking up on that.  You can't help wonder if you're doing everything wrong, but you have to trust your instincts and do what feels right for you.


Brennan obviously is going through that at the beginning of this episode. Booth and Brennan have a fight. Brennan believes that Booth is criticizing her parenting style, and runs out and ends up in the lab again at night to finish working on this case. That's when she gets shot. I don't think I'm revealing too much, because this  happens at the beginning.


I think it's quite fitting, of course, that Brennan dealing with her own issues of being a mother -- at the core of that, is missing her own mother. I think that's something when you've lost a parent, that you just want to be able to call them up on the phone and say "How do I cook that thing that you used to make for me? How do I do this? And what did you do when I was a child? How am I supposed to do this as a parent?" Just life skills, but especially when you have a child yourself, you go back and think about how you were parented and how you were mothered and what your parents did for you. You just want to be able to call them and ask them.


I think that's a huge thing that Brennan is not talking about, but it's got to bring up so much for her when she's given birth and she's lost her mother. Just trying to figure out how to be a good parent, how to be a good mother, and not having that resource of her mother. It also brings back so many memories, and makes her miss her mother.


It's quite fitting that this issue that she's dealing with, in a way, causes her to see her mother again and hopefully ease those pains that she's dealing with, because she doesn't have her mother around.

Booth and Brennan in "The Shot in the Dark"

Question: Is there a chance that Booth and Brennan will ever get married after something this serious?

Emily Deschanel: Something like this always make you look at every situation in your life and think, "Is this how I want it to be?" I think we are moving toward some kind of answers on that. We do discuss it in an episode that we're about to shoot next week. There's not necessarily a resolution, but it is discussed. 

Emily Deschanel (cont): If you remember, Booth is not going to ask Brennan to marry him, again. He said, "You have to ask me." She's also said that she's not getting married. So far, having a child hasn't changed that or changed her stubborness about asking him.


We'll see. I love that. If this happens -- and I imagine that at some point it will -- I look forward to seeing what Brennan's proposal to Booth is like. So far, I can't say I know definitively that that is happening yet.

Booth and Brennan in "The Friend in Need"

Question: Will there be more tension between Booth and Brennan, like what we'll see in the next episode when Booth criticizes Brennan's parenting style?

Emily Deschanel: There's not a blatant tension like that anytime directly that I can speak of. In this episode it definitely happened. I have reason to believe it will happen later in the season again, but I cannot confirm that. We still have several episodes to shoot for the season, although I think a couple of them might be delayed until next season. We have like seven or eight more to do, maybe, and then I think a couple will be moved to next season.

Brennan in "The Shot in the Dark" with her mother in the background.

Question: Was this episode, "The Shot in the Dark," emotional for you to shoot?

Emily Deschanel: Absolutely. It was very emotional, especially the scenes with her mother. I played this character for a long time, and I felt in my mind who my mother is and was to me. It was quite emotional to do these scenes and to shed light on Brennan as a teenager and her relationship with her mother.


Anyone who's human who lost someone they loved, or hasn't but can imagine that, I think it's kind of a universal theme that you just want to see that person one more time. Here, Brennan has that chance, and doesn't want it to end -- at first, doesn't believe it. It's something you always wish for when you lost somebody, and she gets this opportunity and that's so incredible. If we've done it right, hopefully people will be affected by it. Maybe it doesn't affect everyone, but that's OK.

Zooey and Emily Deschanel in "The Goop on the Girl"

Question: How different are you and your sister, Zooey, in real life?

Emily Deschanel: It's hard for me, from the inside, to analyze, but the way we think is completely different. We're very different in many ways, but there's also similarities, having grown up in the same household and having similarities for that reason. I don't know. We have lots of things in common, but we kind of view the world in different ways and have different ways of doing things -- kind of diametrically opposed ways of doing things. But we have lots of things in common as well. I don't know. We're different but the same.

Emily Deschanel (cont): It's a big encounter. Basically, my character is shot and I have an encounter, which she believes is a hallucination, at least at first, where she is transported to her childhood home and she sees her mother. And [she] interacts with her mother, who is dead. Of course, she believes it's a hallucination. She has flatlined; so many people will interpret it to be that she's gone to heaven. Her interactions with her mother reveal things from her past, and it affects Brennan now and encourages her to have a different perspective on her behavior and possibly encourage her to change a little bit.

Booth and Brennan in "The Doll in the Derby"

Question: Why has the tension between Booth and Brennan kept up, even after they got together?

Emily Deschanel: It's impossible to give the complete answer, but, maybe, [BONES creator and executive producer] Hart Hanson would say there was no courtship. I think courtship can be kind of boring to watch, at times, for people. I think our dynamic shifted, but there's still that core relationship that's the same.


Now, we're trying to figure out how to raise a child together and balance that with work. We still kind of bicker -- over different things now, but we have a similar relationship.

Emily Deschanel (cont): We didn't have that courtship. We went from 0 to 60, essentially. We went from two people who have the sexual tension, and it's questionable whether they acted on it -- well, we saw a couple of kisses, but beyond that nothing has really happened. They've come to care for each other deeply, but both are stubborn and nothing happens. Then something does happen, but they become parents immediately. They went from no relationship whatsoever, besides platonic, except for their feelings, to a family, essentially -- living together, raising a child together, and then working together.


I think that might have something to do with the fact that it hasn't affected our ratings or the show in too many ways. I think that it actually helped. I have my own pregnancy to thank for that. [Laughing] Maybe I'm just trying to think positively.


For a while I thought I was going to ruin the show because I got pregnant and they didn't think they could hide it. Then, they didn't want to hire anybody else to come in; so I felt bad that I was affecting the show in a negative way. Now, I will say that I affected the show in a positive way.

Brian Klugman, who will play squintern Oliver Wells in the Feb 25th episode of BONES


Question: What can you tell us about the new squintern?

Emily Deschanel: I think that's in three episodes -- Feb. 25 is when that episode airs. Oliver Wells, played by Brian Klugman, is a very interesting intern. Oliver Wells comes in, and he is an out-of-the-box thinker. He has multiple degrees. He challenges Brennan like nobody has challenged her before -- challenges her to think outside the box. He's a really fun character.


He's super smart; Brennan questions whether he's smarter than she is, which is new and different as well.

Emily Deschanel (cont): Most of the interns, they're all so different, but they kind of defer to Brennan and respect her -- not that he doesn't respect me. They kind of defer to Brennan and give her that authority, and he challenges everything. He doesn't need this job. He has multiple degrees. He almost has an Anthropology degree, but not quite. He thinks outside the box, knows about so many different disciplines and just questions everything. That's a refreshing character to have in the lab.


Brian does a great job playing it. He's fun to have on set.


It's very fun to see Brennan challenged in that way. You see that very rarely anywhere, but especially with interns.


I think it's going to be a really exciting episode to see. The case is a twentysomething-year-old guy who dabbles in time travel or attempts time travel. We find another body, and we question whether it's actually him from the future. Because of this new intern, Brennan has almost opened her mind to the idea of time travel.  

Brennan in "The Friend in Need"

Question: Are you still interested in directing an episode of the show?

Emily Deschanel: I do hope so, I would just have to wait until my son was big enough that I didn't feel like I had to be with him as much. Right now, I take him with me every day, and I see him during my breaks. I'm still practicing as much attachment parenting as possible; so I really want that to be in place before I would do something like direct, which definitely is more challenging while I'm also acting on the show. I definitely want to, but I made a choice in life, got pregnant and had a child. I want to put my child first.


It is a goal for me, and I hope to do that. Possibly next season after Henry's two, or if we have a tenth season, maybe that. Or both. We'll see.

Brennan with her mother looking on in "The Shot in the Dark"


Question: Did you suggest to executive producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan that you wanted to find out more about Brennan and how she turned out this way?

Emily Deschanel: No, it was never a point of conversation, specfically about this. We've discussed it, kind of, over the years. I was more or less surprised by the episode, even though I knew the gist of it before I got it. I can't say it was specifically because of me or a request by me for something like this, but it's definitely a conversation we've had over the years about Brennan and her family. David [Boreanaz] has had conversations about his family, about his mother. I believe at some point his mother is going to show up.

Emily Deschanel (cont): It's just something, as an actor, that you're always curious about, because that shapes the character. You have your own ideas, and then they reveal more. What's wonderful is when information is revealed when you're working on a TV show, and it's not contradictory to what you decided you had in your head. It kind of adds on to it. It was nice to read, and it didn't mess with my brain and my concept of the character too much. [Laughing].

Brennan in "The Diamond in the Rough"

Question: Can you talk about your comedic acting, like the scenes for the dancing competition?

Emily Deschanel: [Laughing] Watching the episode is like watching...I don't know. I was embarrassed. Even though I chose to do those things on purpose, it was just embarrassing.


I like doing the comedic episodes, because it's refreshing and I enjoy doing comedic things. Physical comedy is fun.

Emily Deschanel (cont): Brennan thought she could sing and her mom told her she could sing and she sings and it's OK. Then, Brennan thinks that she can dance and she's committed to dancing. I kind of go back to the child in the character, and think, "OK, this is Brennan as a child thinking she can dance." Just committing completely to this dance competition, loving it so much, but having no clue how bad she is. [Laughing] That's just so fun for me; I loved it.