Deschanel attended the elite prep school Crossroads in Santa Monica, CA alongside future co-stars Kate Hudson and Jake Gyllenhaal, where she discovered an interest in singing and musical theater; at one point, considering a career in jazz singing on Broadway. At 16, she appeared as Little Red Riding Hood in the North Hollywood-based Interact Theatre Company's production of "Into the Woods.
On the heels of "Terabithia," Deschanel moved to the Sci-Fi channel, embodying a Dorothy-esque figure named DG in "Tin Man" (2007), a very twisted take on "The Wizard of Oz." Tweaking the beloved Judy Garland model would seem like a cakewalk compared to portraying the life of a real icon, but Deschanel's trademark lower timbre would come in handy as the tragic singer/songwriter Janis Joplin.
The subsequent "Gospel According to Janis" (2008) - one of several competing Joplin films - promised to usher the singer-actress into a new level of recognition. Before that project went into production, she starred in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" (2008), a dark apocalyptic thriller about a family that flees a natural disaster threatening humanity's very existence.