Kristen Bell’s Frozen Fun
By: Lynn Barker
Pretty actress Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall and TV’s “Veronica Mars”) voices the character of Anna, a fearless, klutzy, optimistic young princess out to find her magical sister and save her kingdom in Disney’s Frozen. Outspoken and talented Kristen, who sings in the role and is married to comic actor Dax Shepard, had a ton to say about sisterly rivalry, the perils of being a tween or teen, how to treasure your best friends and more. Check it out!
Q: So, we hear that you and Idina (Menzel who voices Anna’s sister Elsa) became like sisters. (Note: Idina performed the role of “wicked witch” Elphaba in Broadway’s Tony-winning musical “Wicked”).
- Kristen: She is (like a sister). She was so intimidating to me to begin with simply because she is one of the best singers on the planet, in my opinion.
Kristen with Idina Menzel at Disney Expo event
Q: You also have an amazing singing voice as well.
- Kristen: Well, thank you. I can hold a tune and I studied music and I'm very proud of my capabilities. But there's a ferocity in her voice. It’s just the next level and, you can't practice that. I can practice and emphasize my range a few notes on the bottom, a few notes on the top. Her belting comes from her guts so I was really intimidated when I first met her, especially because she plays stronger, tougher characters. But she's so warm in real life that it was just a treat. She was able to comfort me really quickly. And we would rehearse at her house by her piano. I was like exploding. I'm like, ‘what am I doing here?’
Q: But, once you knew her, it was fun?
- Kristen: Yeah. And after I'd sing my verse she'd go, "You sounded really good." And I'd be like, looking for someone else, "Did anybody see what she said to me?" It’s really cool to be able to sing with her.
Anna in traditional costume
Q: Elsa and your character Anna have a sisterly rivalry at times. Do you have siblings of your own? Do you understand sibling or sisters rivalry?
- Kristen: I have two older sisters, so yes. Sometimes we got along splendidly and other times we fought like crazy. I was the baby so I looked up to everything that they did. When they taught me how to peg leg my jeans in the '80s, it was before skinnies existed. It was great and when they taught me how to do that before elementary school, I felt like a million bucks.
- Then they would ignore me for a month. One time I was at the fridge and I said, "Where are the frickin' pickles?" And my sister had a heart attack and she grabbed me by the back of the hair and she brought me to my mom and dad and she said, "Do you know what she just said?" And I said, "I said frickin'" but she was pissed 'cause it sounded like a bad word, you know. Whatever.
- One year, for Halloween, at the last minute I decided I wanted to be Madonna, and they surprised me with making me a pair of tattered jeans and sewing bows and all this crazy Madonna stuff all over it. And again, when my sisters were nice to me, it was some of the best moments of my childhood. They ping-ponged between being angels and devils.
- 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. Growing up is the pits. I mean, you forget, as an adult. And I so often play young characters that I have to get into that mindset.
Anna and Kristoff search for her sister Elsa
Q: What do you remember about kid or teenhood that is the pits?
- Kristen: It sucks. Your body hurts. Your hormones are wonky. No one understands you. Your parents are embarrassing idiots. And you just 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 lifeboat as you. It's really special, I think.
Anna meets rugged and snow-covered mountain man Kristoff for the first time
Q: Anna might be one of the most accessible, “real” Disney princesses. How did she appeal to you?
- Kristen: I'm an American girl and always wanted to be a Disney princess but I never saw a Disney heroine or an animated heroine that was like me; awkward and spoke too fast and spoke before she thought and tripped and said a lotta dumb stuff. (we laugh) and, was vivacious and eternally optimistic and adventurous. I never saw all of those qualities together.
Anna and Kristoff in his sleigh
Q: And, playing Anna, you could sing too!
- Kristen: I have a very traditional musical theatre voice. And (director Chris Buck) said "I think your voice would fit it, and this would be great." I think this story is anything but traditional. I think it takes a sharp left turn. 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 you should want.
Q: Did you get to contribute some ideas for Anna?
- Kristen: When I first read (the part of) Anna, she was on an adventure but she was very different than this. She was more of a princess and I never wanted to play a girl with good posture. I would add stuff and was like, "She should snort right here. I'll talk to myself," 'cause I talked to myself all the time growing up. I still talk to myself in my car. And they kept it in. And then the first time you see Anna as an adult when she wakes up, I started coughing and snorting, which is what I do when I wake up. Then she falls back asleep I always do that 'cause I hit snooze like six times.
Anna dressed up for her sister's coronation as queen
Q: She was fun and very relatable. The artists used Norway as inspiration for this film. Have you ever been there?
- Kristen: No, but I would love to. Everything I got was the research that their team brought back, which was all these gorgeous fjord pictures and, and of the actual, traditional outfits and the traditional ice picks that Kristoff uses and the houses. We would have sessions where they would poster board the room with pictures of what the actual thing was and then how they wanted to interpret it and how it was gonna be color timed. I took it all from that. I’m from Detroit and I really like cold weather, so that appealed to me.
Anna with handsome prince Hans
Q: Anna and snowman Olaf become really good friends. Who is your best friend?
- Kristen: I mean, honestly, that's what I call my daughter. When I wake her up in the morning I always say, "How's my best friend doing?" My husband is my best friend. I still have my very best friend Brooke from fourth grade who lives in Michigan. Brooke had a baby at the same time as I did. She and I met behind the rec center and we were both really awkward kids. She was real feisty. I was kind of meek as a kid so I needed someone like her to complement me, 'cause otherwise I would've been put through the wringer.
Anna with Olaf, Kristoff and reindeer Sven
Q: What qualities do you look for in a friend?
- Kristen: Humor, first and foremost. Because if you're not laughing, what's the point? And kindness and individuality too,
Q: Do you have any favorite winter memories?
- Kristen: Snow days. In Detroit we were snowed in once a month. Brooke and I would always try to make sure that we were sleeping at each other's houses, easily Friday and Saturday, and sometimes push for them during the week. Two out of ten days we were snowed in and much better that you're snowed in with your best friend if you can't leave for forty-eight hours.
Kristen at a Disney event
Q: You are finally doing a “Veronica Mars” movie based on your TV series character. How exciting is that?
- Kristen: Really exciting. I've ping-ponged between knowing it was gonna 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.
Q: You used the kick starter site on the web to finance it, right?
- Kristen: Yeah, we’d offer rewards (to those who would donate). Okay, we'll sign six thousand posters, not five hundred. And I'll do a thousand outgoing messages (for your phone) and that's fine. It’s the only way to get the movie done. We wanted to really have it be an exchange of love and not just a give us your money. We didn't go to anyone's house and put a gun to their head, like, no one had to give money.
- We did not want to take advantage of our fans at all. We are desperate to deliver something that they're satisfied with. My first and utmost priority is that the fans feel like it was worth it. I probably had lunch with seven hundred people, because they bought tickets to set and we wanted to give 'em a cool experience and it was a lot of work but it was worth it.
Kristen Bell with Pixar Head John Lasseter
Q: Was it easy for you to just get back into that character? Does she completely reflect your personality, do you think?
- Kristen: She reflects the snarky side of my personality for sure. I'm like fifty percent Anna, fifty percent Veronica. It really depends on the day and the time of the month. But, I was really nervous that I couldn't get back into her just because nerves exist. I was, like, I haven't done it in this long time but I was really excited to play her but I was nervous that I wouldn't have her charm or her snark or whatever.
Frozen is in theaters November 27th!
Princess Anna with Snowman Olaf