Disney's 'Frozen' Star Kristen Bell on Love at First Sight, "Nerding Out" and 'Veronica Mars'
You probably know Kristen Bell best as the titular character of Veronica Mars — soon to be a feature film — or for her current TV role on Showtime's House of Lies.
That will change on November 27 when she sings her way into your heart as Anna in Disney's animated Frozen, which is based on the fairy tale The Snow Queen. In Frozen, there are two princesses of Arendelle: Anna and her older sister Elsa, who is soon to be queen and has cryokinetic powers (the ability to make tools, weapons etc. out of ice). When the Snow Queen's powers get out of hand and she goes into self-exile, Anna sets off on a journey to bring her sister back from the brink and save their kingdom.
We sat down with the 33-year-old Bell as she sang the praises of being the latest Disney princess, and thanked her fans for believing in her enough to fund a Veronica Mars movie via Kickstarter. She also chats about why she embraces her current geek-goddess status.
Fandango: You're now officially a Disney princess. When you were growing up, which Disney princess did you most identify with and why?
Kristen Bell: I was a hybrid between Ariel and Aladdin. Sure, I recognize that Aladdin wasn't a princess, but I was more of a tomboy. I loved Ariel because she was the first of her kind in a couple different ways. She was the first princess who wanted more than just a husband — she also wanted to see the world. She was the first redhead, she was half fish, she collected forks — she had a whole bunch of weird qualities. I gravitate towards individuality, and she fit the bill. Aladdin is self-explanatory—he rules.
What do you hope little girls learn from Anna in Frozen?
I hope little girls and boys learn to embrace their differences and know that what makes them unique makes them special. This whole movie is such a metaphor for accepting who you are and supporting the people you love. Elsa also has this special quality — this ice power — that she's terrified of because it makes her different. She doesn't think she can control it, but she really just isn't embracing how beautiful it is to be different and unique.
What I love maybe even more than that is that the true love of this movie is between siblings and family members. It's a very unconventional route for Disney to go, because it's not about her prince or one true love. It's about her family and support system, and what's the point of going through life without the love and support of your family?
You have a background in musical theater. Did all the singing involved in playing Anna for Frozen attract you most to the role?
Absolutely! I would have done a nonmusical Disney animation [film] in a heartbeat, but the fact that it was going to be set to music made it extra special.
What is your favorite movie musical and why?
For me it would be a theater show. But if I had to choose a movie musical, I love Singin' in the Rain. It's fantastic and I just adore Gene Kelly. If I had to choose just a regular musical, it would be A Little Night Music.
In Frozen, Anna thinks she falls in love and gets engaged in one day. You just got married [to actor Dax Shepard] after a long engagement. Why was it important for you to wait?
Speaking from logical reality, your brain is trained to release dopamine for the first three months of crush. That is why high school crushes or the first three months of any relationship are so intense. After three months, you start to identify the flaws of the other person and start to recognize compatibility issues. The more you know someone, the more you realize how compatible you actually are. The romantic in me would say that it's important to wait because my husband once said to me, "I will not love you any differently when I sign my name to a piece of paper at the courthouse. That means nothing to me because I will prove that I can love you every day for the rest of your life." Nothing more romantic has ever been said to me.
With Anna, Hans [a prince from a nearby country] wasn't going anywhere. They didn't really need to agree to get married. For girls, I hope the takeaway is that if you two really do adore one another, then neither of you are going anywhere.
Anna believes in love at first sight but is tricked. Is love at first sight a reality or a fairy tale?
Wow. I don't know. I think it could be a reality — I'm not dismissing it in the slightest — but I didn't have it. My husband and I barely remembered each other's names from a dinner with 10 people. We couldn't have made less of an impact on each other. Two weeks later, we met at a hockey game and a lightbulb went off and it was like, "Oh, this person is nice." But it wasn't love at first sight. It grew and it's still growing.
When Veronica Mars was canceled in 2007, did you have a gut feeling that you would play the character again?
Yes. I'm an eternal optimist, so if I want something badly enough, I will try to will it so. I didn't want to give that character up, so we talked about the movie as if it were right around the corner for seven years.
When you heard that a Kickstarter campaign funded by fans got the green light for a Veronica Mars movie, how did that make you feel that fans were willing to dig into their pockets to bring your character back?
Oh, man—permanently flattered. I love playing this character and the only thing I want is for people to like it as much as I do. We were so honored that our fan base was as powerful as they are and rallied.
When Rob [Thomas] and I were conceptualizing the Kickstarter, we thought long and hard about the award system that we wanted to have. Kickstarter, at its core, is preselling the movie — for $25, you are buying the digital download. But we really wanted the hard-core fans to get a chance to contribute to the movie but also get something back that wasn't lame. So we wanted to offer experiences — we auctioned off 100 tickets to the premieres, signed something like 6,000 posters, created a limited-edition poster, offered on-set experiences and spent a lot of time on the T-shirt design. I was all over that last one, because I said, "If we send out a crappy T-shirt, I'm going to have a conniption fit." We got such a response that we opened up another Austin premiere because the tickets to the L.A. and New York premieres went so fast. We wanted to give them as much of an experience as they were giving us.
You've become a favorite in geek culture and events like Comic-Con. Are you in touch with your inner nerd?
First of all, if there's one thing I hate it's when beautiful girls say, "I'm just really a nerd at heart." It's like, no you're not — you're a beautiful girl. If "nerding out" is dancing to the beat of your own drum, then I could lump myself in that category. I embrace my uniqueness, and that is often goofier than other girls in my category, I put my foot in my mouth a lot more, and I'm a little klutzier. Maybe that just makes me uncoordinated, but I wouldn't fight the title!
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