Since 2005, Boston University graduate Emily Deschanel, 39, has starred on the Fox crime procedural Bones as Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who writes novels on the side. A Los Angeles native, she is the daughter of award-winning cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel and the sister of actress Zooey Deschanel. She’s appeared in numerous other films and television shows and is an avid animal-rights activist and vegan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.


And a 4-year-old, yeah. How do I have it all? I don’t. I’m constantly trying to balance things, and sometimes I’m in tears that I won’t see my kids. I’m just trying to survive or get it all done, and it’s definitely challenging.

I’m not sure I consider myself a Hollywood kid, and I’m not sure it’s weird, but I love Boston accents. That’s my favorite. But at BU, we had a dialect class, and even the teacher couldn’t do a Boston accent. She made a girl from Boston do it for us.

No. [Laughs.] I think not. That would be kind of crazy. But I do have a son named Henry, and my character now has a son named Hank. That’s as comfortable as I feel with the characters’ names overlapping real life.

No. I’ll watch surgery, and I like the forensics shows. I’ve been to the morgue and seen autopsies. That said, I almost fainted when my son needed stitches in his chin. They had to get me a juice box. So I guess I’m very squeamish when it comes to my own children.

I got all these books on forensic anthropology, and forensics in general, and I kinda had the basis for certain terminology that I’d be using. So I learned about the basics. Now I know a lot of the bones in the body.

Yup. It’s “The patella’s connected to the femur…” We did a show last season where I rewrote that song. It’s either 206 or 208 bones in the body, depending on who’s counting. We did an episode where we named every bone in the body.

There are so many horrible things happening to animals in the world. I concentrate on the 10 billion animals that are raised and killed for food in this country on factory farms. The number is so large. It doesn’t get the attention it deserves. People don’t want to hear about it. But the environmental impact and the impact on people’s health, never mind the cruelty these animals face, is where I pay the most attention.

I think I solve many crimes all the time. We cook up little mysteries for my son to solve, because he loves it. But I solve the mystery of “Where’s my phone?” every day. I lose it on a daily basis.

Well, my dad directed an episode of Bones, my sister appeared on an episode, and I was just saying to the producer that we need to get my mom on. So maybe not at the same time, but hopefully, yes.

Being There.


Oh, I don’t know. What can I say? I had such a small part in it, but Cold Mountain. Or do I be a smartass and say Boogeyman?

Wow! That’s such a good question. There aren’t many. I played Cassie Germaine, a cellist who was attacked. I worked so hard to learn how to fake playing the cello for this one scene, and in the end, the music wasn’t even synched up. But I’m guessing David Boreanaz has not been on that show.

There are a lot of factors. People love solving a mystery. They like coming up with the answers before the characters do, or wish they had. The science is interesting. It keeps your mind working. It scares you in a kind of controlled environment. And the sense of justice—seeing the good guys win.

I like the tangible. I don’t like speaking in metaphors. I like literal things, empirical things, things you can touch. Facts. I don’t do well with people who speak in metaphors or similes.

She’s way smarter than I am. I’m a little more socially adept than she is, too.

[Laughs.] Probably when we first started doing it I had thoughts like that, but no. I know how much I don’t know, so I’m not that presumptuous. I do know of actors who do medical shows and actually think they can do an operation, but I don’t have those delusions. That said, I’m always fascinated when they do find an unidentified body. There are many, many Jane and John Does out there that have yet to be solved, sadly.

Betty White was on the show recently, and she’s a hero of mine, so that was kind of awesome.

That’s a terrible thing to ask because I work with different directors all the time. But I’ll say Anthony Minghella, who directed Cold Mountain. Not that my role was so big, but I will say that was an exceptional experience. He knew more about my character than I did, and I had months to think about it. It was a tiny, tiny part, and he had a whole backstory that was better than what I had. He’s just amazing.

Like any job, yes, of course, but I’m so lucky to have the job that I do. It’s kind of a show that might never die. It’s pretty perennial.

By then, they’ll have our characters’ children solving the crimes.

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