Emily Deschanel’s 7 Best Performances, Ranked
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Emily Deschanel rose to fame with her role in the hit series Bones as Dr. Temperance Brennan, a role that she played from 2005 to 2017, opposite David Boreanaz’s Steeley Booth. Proving that talent clearly runs in the family, Deschanel is, in fact, the older sister of actress Zooey Deschanel, who’s perhaps best known for her work in Elf, 500 Days of Summerand New Girl.
Although Bones is the show that Deschanel is best known for, the actress has enjoyed an otherwise successful career in film and TV, across many genres. Her hit movies include Cold Mountain, My Sister’s Keeperand Spider-Man 2 (in which she had a cameo role). On the small screen, after Bones ended, Deschanel predominantly found work in voice acting, in shows like American Dad and BoJack Horseman. That said, earlier this year, she made a return to the TV spotlight in the Netflix series Devil in Ohio. In light of this, now seems like the perfect time to take a look back at Emily Deschanel’s best performances, ranked.
Boogeyman is a 2005 horror film directed by Stephen Kay, featuring performances by Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, and Lucy Lawless. The film tells the story of a young child named Tim, who last saw his father during his childhood after he was sucked into his bedroom closet. The haunting did not stop then, and he returns to the house years later to uncover the truth. Deschanel plays the significant role of Kate Hougthon, Tim’s childhood friend who returns home at the same time as him, essentially getting roped into the events as a result. It’s refreshing to see her act in a horror film, even if it was critically panned. It was more successful at the box office and spawned two sequels (though Deschanel did not appear in either).
Easy is a film that follows Jamie Harris, a 25-year-old with a career that involves naming strange consumer products. Interestingly, though Jamie is adept at giving names and identities to products, she struggles with her own. The film centers around her search for herself, navigating difficult romances, issues with intimacy and trust, and the ordinary obstacles of adulthood. Deschanel stars in supporting role as Laura Harris. While the movie didn’t receive the greatest reviews, Easy marked one of Deschanel’s earliest film performances and established her budding talent in the industry.
My Sister’s Keeper is a 2009 drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes. The film features an ensemble cast including Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, Jason Patric, and Alec Baldwin. Based on Jodi Picoult’s 2004 novel of the same name, the story follows a child who was conceived solely for the purpose of becoming a bone marrow donor for her gravely ill sister. She ends up suing her family for emancipation, and the breakdown of the family unit ensues. Deschanel has a supporting role as Dr. Farquad, and despite her limited screen time, she turns in a solid performance opposite acting greats.
Glory Road is based on a true story and was directed by James Garner. The story follows Don Haskins, who selects seven Black players for his basketball team, the Texas Western Miners. Set in 1966, this decision is controversial, but the team ultimately leads to victory. Deschanel stars as Mary Haskins, a town local. The film is moving and the cast all deliver excellent performances.
Cold Mountain is an Anthony Minghella-directed Civil War-era film that revolves around a confederate soldier as he makes his journey back to his love. The film features excellent performances by Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, as well as an Oscar-winning turn from Renée Zellweger. Deschanel has a small role as Mrs Morgan, however, she keeps up with the incredibly talented cast whenever she is on-screen. Like every other performance on this list, Cold Mountain demonstrates Deschanel’s ability to work in different genres.
Created by Daria Polatin, who is adapting her own novel of the same name, Devil in Ohio is a recent Netflix original series that sees Deschanel returning to the TV spotlight. She plays Dr. Suzanne Mathis, hospital psychiatrist in Ohio, whose latest patient is a teenager who has escaped a devil-worshipping cult. As authorities try their best to launch an investigation, tensions rise in Suzanne’s household. Though the series ultimately received mixed reviews, sitting at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was wonderful to see Deschanel return to form, particularly in a thrilling story that saw her turn in a performance we haven’t seen from her before.
Bones was a very successful series created by Hart Hanson for Fox. The series centers around Dr. Temperance Brennan, a lonely anthropologist who is approached by an ambitious FBI Agent (David Boreanaz) to help solve a series of crimes by identifying the bodies of the deceased by only their bones. Bones marked Deschanel’s debut in a leading role on TV, and she performed it perfectly for an astonishing 12 seasons. For her work on the Fox show, the fan-favorite actress received many awards nominations at the People’s Choice Awards from 2011 to 2016.