As forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan on the hit show Bones (now entering its eighth season), life imitates art for Emily Deschanel. The 35-year-old actress is not only a new mom on the show (her character had a daughter with FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz) , but she and real-life husband David Hornsby welcomed son Henry on September 21, 2011. We recently sat down with the actress and got the scoop on what she thinks about being a working mom, what she would tell Dr. Brennan if she could and her (and her son's) vegan diet.
You were pregnant while filming Season 7 of Bones, and now you're a new mom for Season 8. Do you bring your baby to set now that you're a working mom?
Yes, I do. I have a great nanny who is there with me all day, every day. [Henry] will come to set and hang out just off camera. I can't say he's been silent the whole time, but I have a wonderful situation where I get to see my baby throughout the day, and I can't imagine leaving him home at this point. But I know so many friends who have regular jobs and can't take their baby to work, so I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky.
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How has being a mom influenced you as an actor?
I think that I'm more sensitive to things. There was an episode last season where a boy was murdered and that just [destroyed] me. I’m in the scene meeting the parents and I'm supposed to be serious and professional, and here I am trying to hold back tears in order to give the performance that I want to give. I'm more sensitive to those things since I gave birth. When we were on a break for my maternity leave, I tried to watch the show [on television], but I couldn't look at the dead bodies!
Was your character's birth on the show anything like your own?
My character's labor was very different. I did hypno-birthing, which is a technique where you learn to basically relax. It's self-hypnosis, essentially. I didn't have any drugs, so my character and I were similar in that way, but Bones was much more desperate because it wasn’t her choice [to be unmedicated]. I was much more calm!
How does your parenting style differ from Brennan's?
I'm following attachment parenting principles as much as possible, while Brennan's a little more hands-off than you'd expect her to be. I could have envisioned before they wrote these episodes that Brennan would be more like me, having been a cultural anthropologist who knew all about the benefits of baby-carrying and baby-wearing and even sleeping in the same bed with her baby. But she's very [detached] in a lot of ways.
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What advice would you give Brennan if you could? And vice versa?
I would probably tell Brennan to trust her instincts, because that's something somebody told me, and [that advice] has been wonderful. I think Brennan has good instincts, but she'd probably override it with her intellect as many people with very high IQs do.
I think Brennan would probably say that I am overly-emotional. The minute my baby cries, I freak out. Why is he crying? What's going on? How can I fix it? She'd probably tell me to calm down not to be so sensitive, which is probably good advice. I feel like I've kind of been in the trenches a bit being a mother, and I have to come up for air here and there. I have moments where I have to pinch myself and remember, ‘I'm a mom.’ I'm so excited that Henry is in my life.
You are vegan and were throughout your pregnancy. Are you instilling those same eating habits with Henry?
I am very good with my nutrition and I made sure that I got everything I needed [when I was pregnant]. I read books that helped me and I worked with a nutritionist ... so I didn't have a problem. People are different, and my son will always have a choice, but I'll always feed him vegan food at home. I do believe in explaining to him why I'm vegan and why I'm mainly feeding him vegan food.
Were you ready for changing diapers? Do you use cloth or disposable?
I was a nanny years ago before I got my first acting job, so I had experience with kids and changing diapers, so I love that. I've used cloth diapers mostly, but I actually had an incident where I put on a disposable after Henry peed all over the place while I was shooting a scene, so that was awkward. I’m not against disposables ... I've just had to learn that it’s OK to use them here and there when I need them.
What are your plans for the future? Do you want to travel with your child, or stay closer to home?
I traveled with my son recently for a weekend to visit my grandma for her 95th birthday, and it was quite challenging. I started thinking, ‘Uh oh, do I have to travel with him?’ Then I think about my parents. ... I already had my passport when I was 5 months old, and we moved to Italy when I was his age, so I was quite used to traveling with my parents. I think I want something in between for Henry. I'm [in Los Angeles] for at least another year for the show, and most TV is here, so I do see us having a lot of our life here. I like having a stable home base and not picking up and leaving for too long.
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Do you see your husband (actor David Hornsby, who plays priest Matthew "Rickety Cricket" Mara on the FX comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) in a new light as a dad?
We haven't had as many conflicts, and we are pretty much in line about a lot of things, so I’m lucky I have a great husband who makes me aware of things that I could do better. When I'm stressed out—and having children can be very stressful at times—he has a wonderful way of calming me down. He just breaks everything up with humor. He's an incredible dad and I knew he would be from one of our first dates. He's so happy to wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and take [Henry]. It's been wonderful to see that side of him and how happy Henry makes him.