You may know Kristen Bell from the likes of Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or Gossip Girls. But did you know that it was always a goal of hers to be in a Disney animated movie? Kristen achieved that goal in Disney’s FROZEN (in theaters on Thanksgiving) as the voice of Anna, the princess of Arendelle. I was able to interview Kristen (along with 24 other bloggers) about her experience playing Anna last week in LA right before the red carpet premiere.
How did you get involved in the project?
I’ve always wanted to be in a Disney animated feature since I was four or five years old. It was the first goal I had ever set for myself. I auditioned for Tangled and after my audition the casting director pulled me aside and she said, that was great and if we go another way, which I think she knew they were, I want you to meet Chris Buck because he’s directing a project that’s a few years down the line called The Snow Queen, and I think you’d be right for it. And what’s funny is that she said, and he said, (because I had lunch with him in the Disney commissary that afternoon), it’s a much more traditional Disney musical. And that was the pitch, and obviously I said yes when he actually offered me the part and did a series of readings. I think this is the most untraditional musical they’ve ever done. Which is kind of funny because that was his original intention, but the script has morphed so much, it kind of told us what it wanted to be.
Did the musical aspect of it, singing scare you?
No, that was what incited me to want to do it, because I studied music in college and I trained operatically when I was a little girl. I love musical theater so, so, so much. I’d done a couple Broadway musicals and I try to keep music as relevant as possible. Music puts me in a mental state of happiness like nothing else. Really like nothing else, other than my kid.
I was so eager to get my hands on being a part of, of a musical again. And especially for the two people who I think have modernized musical theater these days Bobby and Kristen Lopez. I think, even as like much of a musical theater freak as I am, it did hit a plateau of becoming a little oh, I’ve seen that kind of musical. I hadn’t seen a musical I had liked in a really long time, and then I saw Book of Mormon and my head exploded, it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
What did you do to prepare?
I didn’t at all. I came in with so many ideas, this was not how the movie was written at all. The inception of the script was much different than this script we have now. It went through quite a few rewrites and finding everything, originally they (Elsa and Anna) were mother and daughter. And then they were sisters. And then they weren’t. I think they just tried to figure out what worked the best for telling the themes of the story while using the Christian Andersen fairy tale as an outline. I knew exactly what I wanted to do going in, I was like, I don’t want her to have good posture, I don’t want her to like have dreamed of holding a sword her whole life. I didn’t want her to be one or the other of the archetypes that I was used to seeing. I just wanted her to be who I wanted to see on screen when I was little, which is someone who talks too much and too fast. And someone who puts her foot in her mouth and is goofy, but really kind of likes people and being social and being positive. I really wanted her to also be proactive. I wanted her to be the driving force of the movie, and not just be the damsel that needs someone else. She’s really goofy, she’s who I felt like I was when I was a kid.
The scene that I connect to the most, it’s not necessarily because of a personal experience, but it’s because I appreciate the story that’s being told, is not actually my scene. Elsa has a song called Let It Go which is done vibrato, it’s so good. Idina obviously is a powerhouse and she just blows it out of the water. The song happens at a point in the movie where there is this idea of fear versus love, there is one character that’s driven completely out of love and is naivete and everything is great, and we’re going to be friends. Then you have this other character that’s absolutely paralyzed by fear, because she shouldn’t be and she does it wrong and she’s not the norm . The movie is really about her embracing what makes her different, because that’s what makes her unique. And learning how to not let her fear of- let her fear paralyze her. This song, Let it Go, she’s finally all about herself, you’ll see what happens, she can’t be around other people, but she sings this song. It’s just so overwhelming to me to hear the lyrics and know the emotion is just going, throwing your hands up in the air, I am who I am, that’s me. I’m going to love myself. I don’t care, I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. And this is the time where I’m going to let it go. It’s the moment when she loves herself, and every time I watch it I just think it’s so beautiful. It’s also layered with years of being allowed to be involved in helping with this script and hearing the personal stories of people bring to the table. So singing and seeing her sing Let It Go is awesome.
You said you’re opinionated. Is there a role you’ve done that is more you?
Wow, well all my roles have been aspects of my personality, sans a few. I mean the role I’m currently playing on House of Lies is not like me at all, neither really is Sarah Marshall. Veronica Mars was close to the snarky darker side of me, that’s about as dark as I’ll get. Anna is a caricature of me for sure. This is definitely closer to who I am. This is who I was as a kid. I made a movie with my husband last year called The Hit and Run and that’s probably the closest to me and maybe the truest because he wrote it knowing I was going to play it, so he wrote it as me. I think somewhere between Anna, Annie in Hit and Run, and Veronica Mars is a version of myself, it depends on the day that you wake me up.
Speaking of Veronica Mars, what does it feel like to come back ten years later and the fan base is still there?
It’s the most flattering thing ever, I can’t imagine anything more flattering. I held onto this character because I love it, But I don’t know if my views line up with everybody else’s or my tastes. I loved the show as an audience member even though I was involved in it, that’s weird to say, that you like like your own work, but it wasn’t because of me. It was because Rob’s writing it, it was because of a feel of the show, the tone and everyone else that was involved. Rob and I had so many discussions about if there was going to be a Veronica Mars movie. He kept saying, what if we’re listening to the same twenty people that watch our Veronica Mars movie and they’re just wowing on Twitter,we’re going to be screwed. We are going to make eighty nine dollars and be so embarrassed. I was like, first of all who cares, then we’ll have eighty nine dollars and we’ll make the movie. Second of all I just felt the reality is every journalist that I am interviewed by in the last seven or eight years has asked, will there be a Veronica Mars movie. Your job as journalists is to represent the readers that are reading your blogs, so clearly people want to know the answer. That’s how I convinced them. The response was overwhelming, and blew us out of the water. It was a great experience, everybody getting back together. We all have kids now, so it’s like, Mini Me’s running around. Mini Logan, Mini Veronica and, Mini Wallace it was just cute.
Kristen was nice enough to take a photo with us. Yup, thats me right behind her!
Kristen was also nice enough to bring us a yummy treat. Her friend created a company that gives back. This Bar Saves Lives, is a healthy snack bar that helps fight acute malnutrition in starving youth around the world. For every bar sold, the company gives a packet of life-saving food to a child that needs it. I tried one (DARK CHOCOLATE CHERRY & SEA SALT) and it was delicious! You can find out more information about this company on their website and while you are there pick up a box and make a difference in a child’s life!