There are things her most devoted fans know about Kristen Bell that people who didn’t help fan-finance her big screen “Veronica Mars” movie might not.
She can sing, for starters.
“When you’re too small to play sports, you compete in solo and ensemble singing competitions,” the diminutive Bell says. “At least, that’s what I did. It turned me into a musical theater junkie. I sang only in Italian, for a while. Then I discovered musical theater.. I studied that in New York in college. Musical theater is what led me into the ocean that is film and television.”
She sings, and more than holds her own with Broadway star Idina Menzel in the animated Disney musical “Frozen,” which opens Nov. 27.
“Any time music is a part of my performance is a good time, in my book. This was a really ‘lucky get.'”
The 33 year-old Michigan native is an alumnus of New York University, and a Broadway veteran in her own right. She was in a revival of “The Crucible” and the musical “The Adventures of Becky Thatcher.”
She just got married — to longtime love and “When in Rome” and “Hit and Run” co-star Dax Shepard. She had a baby this year, and they named her Lincoln.
But even hardcore fans might not realize that she let Shepard talk her into naming their child after his “baby” — his 1960s vintage souped-up Lincoln Continental.
“Well, FIRST of all, he’s BIG. I don’t LET him do anything. He just does what he wants,” Bell says with a laugh. “I think it was a combination of the president and the car we just liked the sound of it. ‘Lincoln.'”
And Bell counts herself VERY lucky that she had her daughter just in time for her most kid-friendly movie ever. “Frozen,” a Disney cartoon based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, lets Bell become a Disney princess.
“This was a dream for me, ever since I was a toddler, really. But I knew if I was ever going to be a Disney heroine she’d have to be someone I wanted to see, I could relate to.
“I wanted to make her very adventurous, to not be a ‘typical’ animated heroine. I wanted her to talk too quickly and too much. I wanted her to put her foot in her mouth, to be clumsy and awkward and have all of these characteristics that I feel I had as a kid. I was always talking too much and too fast, speaking before I thought.”
So her character Anna, younger sister to the ice-cursed Elsa (Menzel) doesn’t so much talk as blurt. She acts before she thinks, and when her sister heads off into self-imposed exile because everything she touches freezes, plucky Anna sets out to find her and bring her home.
“Anna’s such a goofball — sincere, an eternal optimist but just weird. I really like that, because I have been weird and proud of it forever.”
Reviews of the film are full of praise for the movie, for Bell’s surprising singing and her “vigorous” vocal performance (The Hollywood Reporter), which fills Anna with Bell’s own personality.
” I hit those lines the way I hear’em and they sort of fall out,” Bell says. “I did study music in college and music is such a big part of my life that I hear dialogue at a certain tempo.”
The other big project in her crowded life is the “Veronica Mars” movie that she and Rob Thomas (writer of the series) pulled together and turned into the most famous Kickstarter (crowd-financed) movie ever. They raised millions from fans of the teen private investigator TV series, which aired from 2004-2007, They reunited much of the cast and filmed a movie that is due out next year.
“Veronica is so much a part of who I am that it wasn’t hard to get back into character,” she says. “It was everything I wanted it to be. We have talked about the movie we’d want to do pretty much since the day the TV series got canceled. We’d all allowed ourselves to dream of doing it. But I’m not sure any of us ever dreamed it would ever be a reality.
“But throwing it out on Kickstarter and asking the fans if they wanted it, and if they wanted it enough to fund it? That was surreal… We were so lucky to have fans that loyal. One day we were still wishing, the next day we had a green light to go make the movie.”
She’s sensitive to the criticism that suggested this wasn’t what Kickstarter projects — typically tiny-budget affairs from aspiring filmmakers, musicians and artists — are supposed to be. But “we didn’t force anyone to give money to this idea…We wanted to give as much back to the fans as we could because they’ve been very good to us. It’s their movie. They wanted it.”
And if they’d all had to wait on a studio to finance it, “Veronica Mars,” the movie, never would have happened. It’s just another way Bell goes about her life and her business along the road less traveled, from marrying the gawky car nut co-star to naming their child after his car to becoming a Disney princess over 30.
“I’m not a very conventional person. And that bleeds into everything I do.”
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