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Born and raised in L.A., the Bones star (and big sister of Zooey) talks vintage Venice, Topanga hitchhiking, and East Coast rivalry
Photograph courtesy Emily Deschanel/Facebook
I went to college in Boston, then moved to New York before coming back to Los Angeles. On the East Coast, when you tell people you’re from here, sometimes they say, “I’m sorry.” I’m offended by that. The city has so many wonderful things to offer, but I think people come here, see strip malls, and it doesn’t appeal to them. I can see why, but when I leave L.A., it’s not like the strip malls are what’s calling me back. Sometimes I ask people if they have been to L.A. and a lot of times they haven’t, but they have a perspective that it’s lacking in history, beauty, and culture. But the treasures are hidden here. You have your own treasures, of course, then something comes up you didn’t know about. A couple of years ago I discovered the Hollyhock House in Hollywood. I had driven past the area a thousand times, and I had no idea you could visit a Frank Lloyd Wright house. There are so many gems like that, especially downtown. I love the Bradbury Building—my father [cinematographer Caleb Deschanel] took me there as a child.
I grew up near Santa Monica and the Palisades, but we traveled with my dad for his work, so we always had an outside perspective and appreciated what Los Angeles has to offer. I remember going to Santa Monica Pier as a child, and we’d play Skee-Ball and ride the bumper cars. I went to preschool near Abbot Kinney in Venice and remember Main Street, and it was completely different, not as clean as it is now. There was a grittiness that I remember fondly. I liked the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys because it had all this footage of Venice and Santa Monica. It’s a little before my time—I was born in the ’70s and grew up in the ’80s—but the Vans shoes, shaggy hair, and the guys who surfed and skateboarded trickled over into the ’80s. That grittiness is in a few corners still, and I’ll see it and say to my husband [actor David Hornsby], “Oh, that reminds me of old Santa Monica.”
It wasn’t that long ago, but so much has changed. In the ’90s, when I was in high school, I had friends in Topanga Canyon and Malibu who hitchhiked. My uncle did that in the ’60s, but you don’t think of people doing that in the ’90s, which is kind of crazy. I didn’t because I was too much of a goody two-shoes, but I do remember taking the bus along PCH to go to high school until I learned to drive.
Los Angeles will always be my home. I don’t know if I could feel that way about another place. And my family is here. My sister and my husband both work on the same [Fox] lot as I do, which is incredible. It’s nice to be in one place and have a job that keeps me in L.A. I’ve had lots of actor friends move here from New York, and I tell them it takes a year to feel settled. You have to work harder and make more effort, but it’s worth it.