By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Kristen Bell provides the voice of a perky princess named Anna, who desperately wants to connect with her inexplicably icy older sister in Disney’s new animated adventure “Frozen.” The youngest of three, Bell could relate to the love-hate relationship that often exists between siblings.
The former “Veronica Mars” star co-stars in the musical comedy with Idina Menzel, who plays Olga, the heir to the throne of the fictional northern kingdom of Arendelle. The story is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale “The Snow Queen.”
On coronation day, the would-be queen unintentionally turns the sunny kingdom into a frozen winter. Embarrassed by her uncontrollable powers, Olga flees into the mountains. Bell’s Anna goes in search of her sister along with a friendly ice-hauler named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his trusty reindeer Olaf. They are joined on their adventure by a talking snowman (Josh Gad), built by Anna and Olga as youngsters.
Bell, who recently wed longtime partner actor Dax Shepherd in a quiet Beverly Hills civil ceremony, just months after giving birth to their daughter, Lincoln Bell, spoke about playing a Disney princess, finding her own happily ever after and her upcoming “Veronica Mars” movie.
Q: You and Idina Menzel play sisters in this movie. Did you become close during the making of this film?
Bell: She was so intimidating to me to begin with simply because I didn’t know her personally. She’s one of the best singers on the planet, in my opinion.
Q: But you completely hold your own. You have an amazing voice!
Bell: Well, thank you. I can hold a tune; don’t get me wrong. I studied music and I’m very proud of my capabilities, but she has a voice that has ferocity to it.
It’s the next level. There are a couple of singers on the planet who have the ability. I can practice and I can emphasize my range of a few notes on the bottom and a few notes on the top. Her belting comes from her guts.
Q: So how was she to work with?
Bell: I was really intimidated when I first met her, especially because she plays the stronger, tougher character. But she’s so warm in real life that it was just a treat. She was able to comfort me really quickly. We would rehearse at her house by the piano. I’m like, “What am I doing here?” After I’d sing my verse, she’d go, “You sounded really good.” And I’d be looking around for someone to say, “Did anybody see what she said to me?” So it’s really cool to be able to sing with her.
Q: Do you have siblings of your own? Do you understand sibling rivalry?
Bell: I have two older sisters, so yes.
Q: What was that like growing up? Do you have any advice on how to get on with your siblings?
Bell: It was all phases for the three of us. Sometimes we got along splendidly and other times we fought like crazy. I was the baby so I looked up to everything they did. They taught me how to peg leg my jeans in the ’80s.
Q: What is that?
Bell: It’s when you tuck your socks around your pants leg. It was before skinnies existed. They taught me how to do that before elementary school. I felt like a million bucks. I felt so good. And then they would ignore me for a month. One time I was looking in the fridge and I said, “Where are the frickin’ pickles?” My sister had a heart attack and she grabbed me by the back of the hair and brought me to my mom and dad and said, “Do you know what she just said?” And I said, “I said frickin’.” She was pissed because it sounded like a bad word. So we were at odds sometimes and other times they were lovely. One year, I had been really lazy about my Halloween costume. At the last minute, I decided I wanted to be Madonna, and they surprised me by making me a pair of tattered jeans and sewed bows and all this crazy Madonna stuff all over it. When my sisters were nice to me, it was some of the best moments of my childhood. Then they did other things like put me in a laundry basket and push me down the stairs. They ping-ponged between being angels and devils.
Q: Have you gotten your revenge on them?
Bell: No, but one day, now that I’m making these stories public. (She laughs.) But I think the greatest thing about growing up with siblings is that you actually have someone to go through it with, to feel like you’re not alone, because growing up is the pits. You forget, as an adult. I often play characters that are younger than myself and I have to get into that mindset. As a teenager, it sucks. Your body hurts. Your hormones are wonky. No one understands you. Your parents are embarrassing idiots. You cannot catch a break. And then pimples come and you’re like, “Oh my God! What is this life?” But if you have siblings, you kind of have people in the same boat as you. It’s really special.
Q: How is it being the newest Disney princess?
Bell: I’ve always wanted to be a Disney princess because I’m an American girl and that’s what you’re supposed to want. But, I never saw Anna as a Disney heroine or an animated heroine. I saw here more like me, awkward. She speaks too fast and says things before she thinks and trips and says a lot of dumb stuff. She’s also vivacious and eternally optimistic and adventurous. So I never saw her as a traditional Disney princess. I saw vague interpretations of them. When I met (writer-director) Chris Buck, he said, “I’m working on a very traditional Disney story.” I have a very traditional musical theater voice. And he said, “I think your voice would fit it, and this will be great.” I think the story is anything but traditional. I think it takes a sharp left turn just like “The Little Mermaid” did. It’s like you don’t just want the prince, you want a whole new world and you want things more than true love or what the 1950s told you should want.
Q: The character seems a lot like you.
Bell: My sister-in-law saw it with me a couple of weeks ago and she said the same thing. She’s like, “Anna resembles you.” I don’t see it yet but maybe I have to see it one more time.
Q: Speaking of sisters-in-law, shouldn’t you be on honeymoon?
Bell: My honeymoon will be the rest of my life.
Q: Did you have one?
Bell: The whole reason we didn’t want to have a wedding or even a celebration, which is a tough pill for our families to swallow, but I politely reminded them that if you want a party, you can throw a party. I don’t need to throw parties. We really genuinely wanted the celebration of our unity to be the rest of our life and so we didn’t want to (A) waste much money on one party or (B) have the celebration be contained. Weddings have gotten so crazy. I don’t fault any girl for whatever she wants, but I see it getting out of control. It’s not what I wanted. That’s why we did it tiny and at the courthouse. We want the rest of our lives to be the party.
Q: Going back to this film. Anna and Kristoff become really good friends. Who is your best friend?
Bell: My daughter. I call her my best friend. When I wake her up in the morning I always say, “How’s my best friend doing?” Truthfully, my husband is my best friend. My daughter is my best friend too. I have two or three best friends out here and then I still have my very best friend from fourth grade who lives in Michigan whose name is Brooke who had a baby at the same time I did.
Q: Do you get a chance to see her very often?
Bell: When I went back home for Labor Day, we took a bunch of pictures.
Q: I have to ask about the “Veronica Mars” film. How exciting was it to make it after all this time since the show ended?
Bell: Really exciting.
Q: Did you ever doubt that it was going to happen or did you always know you would be able to make it?
Bell: I’ve ping-ponged between knowing it was going happen because I am eternally optimistic. That’s the only way to live. But it didn’t seem very realistic for most of the last seven years. Logan (Jason Dohring’s character) was not intended to be Veronica’s love interest in the slightest. He was supposed to be an antagonist the whole series. But girls started freaking out on message boards about Logan. It became obvious that we had to put them together. This is what the audience wants. So I hope that (the fans) like it. We have a lot of cool cameos. The whole old gang is back together and it was so much fun because we all have children now. I really hope people like the movie because my utmost priority is that the fans feel like it was worth it. We did our damndest when people came to set to make it worth it.