Kristen Bell Biography

Kristen Bell Biography on Monsters and Critics

Summary

"Kristen Anne Bell" (born July 18, 1980) is an American actress. She has received a Satellite Award and Saturn Award, and has been nominated for a Television Critics Association Award and Teen Choice Award.

Though her first film role was an uncredited appearance in "Polish Wedding", Bell previously acted in stage and musical productions. In 2001, she made her Broadway debut as Becky Thatcher in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". After re-locating to Los Angeles, Bell landed various television guest appearances and small film parts, before she gained notability for starring as the title role on the critically acclaimed television show "Veronica Mars" from September 2004 to May 2007. During her time on "Veronica Mars", Bell reprised her role as Mary Lane in the film version of "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical", a stage production she had taken part in. She also portrayed the lead role in "Pulse", a remake of a J-Horror film. In 2007, she joined the cast of "Heroes" playing the character Elle Bishop, and "Gossip Girl" as the titular narrator. Additionally, she played the title character in the hit comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall".

Early life and family

Bell was born and raised in Huntington Woods, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. She is the daughter of Tom Bell, a television news director, and Lorelei 'Lori' Bell, a registered nurse. Her parents divorced when she was two years old, and she has two half sisters, Sara and Jody, from her father's second marriage. Bell has a lazy eye which affects her right eye. She inherited it from her mother, who had it corrected as a child. Bell claims that if she does not get enough sleep, it furthers the ailment. She nicknames her right eye 'Wonky'.

At the age of four, Bell claimed she did not like her first name and opted to change it to 'Smurfette' after the character in the "The Smurfs"; however, her mother convinced Bell to go by her middle name of Anne instead; she used the name Annie until high school. She attended Burton Elementary school in Huntington Woods where she studied singing and tap dancing.

Just before her freshman year of high school, Bell's parents decided to pull her from the public school system. She then attended Shrine Catholic High School in nearby Royal Oak, where she took part in the drama and music club. During her time at the school, she won the starring role in the school's 1997 production of "The Wizard of Oz" as Dorothy Gale and also appeared in productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" (1995), "Lady Be Good" (1996), and "Li'l Abner" (1998). In 1998, the year she graduated, Bell was named the yearbook's 'Best Looking Girl' by senior class vote.

When Bell was 17, her best friend Jenny DeRita, whom she met at age 11 during a Detroit community theater production, was killed in an automobile accident. Bell said that it was 'both the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. ... Once you learn not to take people for granted, you live a lot happier life.'

Shortly after her high school graduation, Bell moved to New York and attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, majoring in musical theater. In 2001, during her senior year at New York University, Bell left a few credits shy of graduating to take a role in the Broadway musical of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".

Career

Early work, 1992 - 2003

In 1992, Bell went to her first audition and won a dual role as a banana and a tree in a suburban Detroit theater's production of "Raggedy Ann and Andy". Her mother had established her with an agent before Bell was 13, which allowed her to appear in newspaper advertisements for several Detroit retailers and television commercials. She also began private acting lessons. In 1998, she appeared with an uncredited role in the locally filmed movie "Polish Wedding".

In 2001, Bell left New York University to take a key role as Becky Thatcher in the short-lived Broadway musical of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". That same year she made her credited film debut in "Pootie Tang." However, her one line in the film was cut and her appearance exists only as a scene shown during the credit sequence. Additionally, she auditioned for the television series "Smallville" for the role of Chloe Sullivan, a part eventually won by Allison Mack. In 2002, she appeared in the Broadway revival of "The Crucible" with Liam Neeson, Angela Bettis and Laura Linney. Bell then moved to Los Angeles, California in 2002 because of her friendship with writers Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, and appeared in a handful of television shows as a special guest, finding trouble gaining a recurring role in a television series. Bell had 'tested like eight times and booked nothing and every show she tested for got picked up,' including auditions for "Skin" and a Norm Macdonald series. In 2003, she landed a role in the Hallmark movie "The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay".

Breakthrough, 2004 - 2006

In 2004, Bell appeared in the Lifetime television movie "Gracie's Choice", which received one of the network's highest ratings. She made her debut in a theatrically released film, with David Mamet's "Spartan", as Laura Newton, the kidnapped daughter of a high-ranking U.S. government official, acting alongside Val Kilmer. Bell also guest-starred on the HBO's drama "Deadwood" in a two-episode story arc ('Bullock Returns to the Camp' and 'Suffer the Little Children').

She then won the role of the title character in UPN's drama "Veronica Mars", which was launched in the fall of 2004. Created by Rob Thomas, Bell starred as the seventeen year old detective Veronica, which put her alongside actors Enrico Colantoni who played her father, Jason Dohring, Percy Daggs III and Ryan Hansen. "Veronica Mars" was described as 'a little bit "Buffy" and a little bit "Bogart". Bell noted the parallels between the character of Veronica and her own life - Bell's parents had divorced and her best friend had also died, like that of Veronica. The series earned positive reviews from television critics, as did Bell's performance. Some critics felt that she was overlooked, however, and deserved an Emmy Award nomination. As a writer at the "tvaddict.com" commented, 'Bell's complete lack of Emmy recognition proves that voters don't actually watch the tapes before they vote.'

In 2005, Bell starred in "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical", reprising the role she played in the short-lived 2001 off-broadway musical. The musical was based on a spoof of the 1936 exploitation film of the same name; the 1936 film itself was in turn was based on "Tell Your Children", an anti-marijuana propaganda film. "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical" debuted on the Showtime network on April 16, 2005. On September 18, 2005, Bell performed the theme song from "Fame" on the 'Emmy Idol' portion of the "57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards". She and the cast of "Veronica Mars" were nominated for two Teen Choice Awards in 2005: 'Choice Breakout Actress' and 'Choice Breakout TV Show'.

In 2006, Bell won the Saturn Award in 2006 for 'Best Actress on Television' for her acting on "Veronica Mars", while the series was nominated for 'Best Network Television Show'. Aside from working on "Veronica Mars", in April Bell starred as Gracie in "Fifty Pills", an entry for the Tribeca Film Festival. She appeared in a short independent film called "The Receipt" and the horror film "Roman", which was directed by her "The Crucible" co-star Angela Bettis. Released on August 11, 2006, "Pulse" starred Bell as the lead Mattie. A remake of the Japanese horror film "Kairo", the film grossed $27.9 million worldwide, however it garnered negative response from critics. Frank Scheck of "The Hollywood Reporter" commented, 'despite the starring presence of Kristen Bell, the young actress has far less interesting material to work with here than she does as the character 'Veronica Mars."

Recent and future roles, 2007 - present

"Veronica Mars" continued on UPN until the third season, in which the show was renewed and returned on the newly created The CW. On January 19, 2007 CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff announced that, while she was pleased with the gradual improvement of "Veronica Mars's" ratings, the series would be put on hiatus after February sweeps to air a new reality series, "Pussycat Dolls Present". On May 17, 2007 Ostroff announced the cancellation of the series. The two-hour series finale aired in the United States on May 22, 2007 and on June 11, 2007 it was announced that "Veronica Mars" had been officially canceled by the CW, after receiving an email from Thomas. A "Veronica Mars" feature film and comic book series continuation had been discussed, and for a short time there was talk of another collaboration between Bell and creator Thomas that would be unrelated to the "Veronica Mars" series.

Following the cancellation of "Veronica Mars", Bell had voiced interest in appearing on "Heroes" because she was a fan previous to being cast. In July 2007, during a train ride back from the San Diego Comic-Con with "Heroes" actors Zachary Quinto and Masi Oka, and writers from the series, the writers had mentioned that if she 'ever wanted to come on "Heroes", give us writers a call', to which Bell said she would love to. She was also spoken to about a role on "Lost", but was not offered one despite speculation that she was to portray Charlotte Staples Lewis. Announced in August 2007, Bell was to portray Elle Bishop, a 'mysterious young lady' with an 'awesome power'. She did not have to audition for the role of Elle, who made her first appearance in an October 2007 episode, and will appear in at least thirteen episodes during the run of the series. The casting of Bell, as "Heroes" creator Tim Kring explains, 'was not easy to pull off', but because of the large ensemble cast of the series and multiple story arcs, 'we found a way to jump into a small window in Bell's schedule.' Concurrently with filming on "Heroes", she narrates as title character in the CW series "Gossip Girl".

Shortly after the cancellation of "Veronica Mars" in early 2007, Bell filmed on location in Hawaii for her starring role as the title character in the Judd Apatow comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". She noted that the improvisational comedy in the film was 'a lovely experience'. The film, written by and also starring Jason Segel was released theatrically on April 18, 2008. Bell lent her voice and likeness to the video game "Assassin's Creed" which was released on November 13, 2007 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and April 8, 2008 for the PC. In the spring of 2006, she finished filming the "Star Wars"-themed comedy "Fanboys", which recently had its release date pushed to January 14, 2008. This was due to additional funding given to director Kyle Newman to shoot new scenes, however, the busy schedules of the actors only allowed for filming in September 2007, thus moving the release date to accommodate that. Bell will voice the character of Marybelle in the animated feature "Sheepish", which also has a 2008 release date. She will also star in the comedy "Serious Moonlight", alongside Meg Ryan. The film is in post-production and has an estimated 2009 release date. On March 31, 2008 Bell began shooting for the Mark Steven Johnson-written Disney film "When in Rome" in locations in Rome and New York.

Bell has also said that when she is free from film and television roles, she would like to perform on stage again.

In the media

In 2005, Bell was named by "Jane" magazine as 'one of the 11 people you'd most like to see naked', appearing in a simulated nude pictorial, and in 2006, Bell was selected 'World's Sexiest Vegetarians' on PETA's yearly poll. She was placed #68 on "Maxim"'s 2005 'Hot 100' list, #11 in "Maxim"'s 2006 'Hot 100' list, and #46 in "Maxim"'s 2007 'Hot 100' list in which she was stated to have 'single-handedly saved the CW from becoming the worst network ever'. In 2006, "Maxim" also placed Bell at the top of the 'Fall TV's Criminally Sexy Investigators' List. In 2008, she was featured at #59 on "Ask Men"s Top 99 Women of 2008 List. Reflecting on her admitted popularity with 'geeks', Bell was voted the fourth sexiest woman on TV by the staff at "Wizard" magazine.

She claims to have never thought of herself as womanly because she 'always played roles and look and act 10 years younger than she is', however as she explains, 'Something magical happened when I turned 25 - I looked in the mirror and was like, You might not get carded for an R-rated movie anymore. Like I didn't have a little stick figure anymore.' Bell has said that many of the characters she has played are tomboys because she was 'not homely enough to play the nerdy girl and not nearly pretty enough to play the pretty girl'.

Bell has been associated with the idea that 'nerdy is the new cool', and she explains, 'what was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn't really matter what you're into — it just means you're not a follower.' She has also said, 'I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn't that funny? The tables have turned.' Vanessa Juarez of "Entertainment Weekly" commented that Bell's role on "Veronica Mars", "Heroes" and as a "Star Wars" fanatic in the upcoming "Fanboys" has 'solidified her placement at the center of the geek universe', while Rodney Rothman stated, 'I guess she's cornered the market on losers.' Bell's work is often compared to Sarah Michelle Gellar's portrayal of the titular character on the cult television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Frank Scheck of "The Hollywood Reporter" stated that Bell was 'arguably the television successor to Gellar's portrayal of Buffy when it comes to fighting bad guys.'

Despite 'new celebrity' status, Bell claims that she is not concerned because 'no one ever recognizes her anyway'. As Bell explains, 'I hang out with Hayden quite a bit — they never take pictures of me. I just step to the side, and I push myself in front of her when she wants to get out of it, or put her in the car.'

Personal life

At age 11, Bell became a vegetarian. In an interview with PETA, Bell stated, 'I have always been an animal lover. I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with — dogs and cats, for example — from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat. I always loved my Brussels sprouts!' During her time in Michigan, Bell fostered animals from Michigan Humane Society and she now supports the San Diego-based Helen Woodward Animal Center. Bell often attends fund raisers for the ASPCA and other non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting animals. She owns a Welsh Corgi-Chow Chow mix named Lola, a Welsh Corgi-Chihuahua mix named Shakey, and a black Labrador Retriever named Sadie, who was 11 years old when she was rescued from Hurricane Katrina and adopted by Bell in 2005. She and many of those who worked on "Veronica Mars", including friend Ryan Hansen, are involved with the charity organization Invisible Children Inc.. The goal of the organization is to create awareness regarding the plight of Northern Ugandans who are caught in the midst of a civil war between the government and Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. Bell has shown her support for the Writers Guild of America in the writer's strike, appearing in the picket lines in December 2007 stating, 'the writers are just looking for some fairness.'

In 2007, Bell ended a five-year relationship with former fiancé Kevin Mann, and is now dating actor Dax Shepard. She told "Complex" magazine that dating 'makes me want to vomit. And not out of grossness - OK, a little bit out of grossness, but just nerves.' Bell explains, 'I've always been a serial monogamist.' Bell has also stated that she still has the Catholic school uniform she wore in high school and is planning on wearing it on her wedding night.

Being from Michigan, she is also an avid fan of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.

External links

(Kristen Bell) at Complex magazine

Credit

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Kristen Bell.