Kristen Bell of Astro Boy isn’t your typical actress
The star says she’s a homebody, not a Maxim model.
Here are the rules for interviewing Kristen Bell: No hugging or kissing.
I always assumed that those rules were in effect when interviewing any young blond actress in Hollywood. But, it turns out that the reason the rules had to be announced this time was that the actress was sick.
“She just got off a plane from Australia, and she’s feeling terrible,” a studio publicist explained. “But Kristen’s a trouper, and she didn’t want to cancel the interview. Just don’t hug or kiss her.”
I hadn’t planned to hug or kiss her, but I felt like it after walking into her Los Angeles hotel suite. She greeted me wearing a bathrobe and carrying a tissue box. A trouper, indeed.
Interestingly, she looked better than most healthy people, and her distinctive voice was strong and recognizable (she is the voice of the narrator and title character in the TV series Gossip Girl). She lends that same voice to the animated film Astro Boy, which opens Friday.
And her voice and body are in Couples Retreat, the hit comedy that is currently in theaters.
The Michigan native, after a brief Broadway run, was introduced to television audiences in 2004 when she played the lead in the series Veronica Mars. After three seasons as the fearless private detective, she played the mysterious Elle Bishop for 12 episodes on the series Heroes. She also had a memorable but short-lived role on the HBO series Deadwood, in which she was beaten to a bloody pulp in a chilling scene that has been revisited countless times on YouTube.
On the big screen, she played the source of Jason Segel’s pain and suffering in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and in January, will be elevated to full-fledged movie star status in the Disney romantic comedy When in Rome.
Between sniffles, the actress talked about her career, and what she has had to do for that career. In particular, she explains why she initially fought against posing for a national men’s magazine, but then relented under pressure from agents and network executives.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Are you by nature an indecisive person?
KRISTEN BELL: Definitely. (laughs). I probably should have taken more time to answer that. But I normally am very indecisive.
Q. The reason I ask is that it seems as if you can’t decide whether you want to be a TV star or a movie star?
A. Oh, wow. I don’t want to be either. But I do want to be a working actress.
Q. And you seem to work a lot. Are you a workaholic?
A. Yes, I am somewhat of a workaholic, and I get that from my father. But I’m getting better at recognizing how important balance is in your life.
Q. What does that mean?
A. A better balance between work and rest. Unless I feel whole as a human being, I’m useless as an actor. I’m grateful to be working so much, but I’ve learned to make sure I have a personal life.
Q. Describe your personal life.
A. I’m not anybody. I’m totally happy to be a homebody, and cook for my friends. I don’t enjoy going out and living the life of an actress when I’m not acting.
Q. How are you able to do that? The temptations for an actress must be overwhelming.
A. I’m never really tempted. I don’t drink by choice. I think I’m allergic to alcohol. I get a really bad headache if I have more than three sips of wine. That’s my body telling me it’s not for me.
Q. What else don’t you do?
A. I rarely stay up late. Sometimes, when I have movie-night with my friends, I’ll stay up a little later. I like the simpler things, like hiking or walking to brunch on the weekends or riding my bike in Burbank.
Q. You’re a very boring movie star.
A.(laughs) I’m kind of a boring person.
Q. Why do you think you’ve been able to work so much in recent years?
A. I’d like to believe hard work had a lot to do with it, although I have so many friends who are very talented and work very hard, but are still waiters because they can’t get a break. I may have been in the right place at the right time. This whole business is a crap shoot.
Q. Do you have a sense that your career is about to break wide open with the starring role in the Disney film?
A. I am aware of it to a degree, but I try not to keep it in my immediate perspective because I don’t want it to alter who I am. I don’t want it to affect how I act or how I live my life. It doesn’t matter how many sexiest vixen lists I’m on; it doesn’t change who I am.
Q. Speaking of sexiest vixen lists, I saw your sexy Maxim cover shoot from a few years ago. I guess you had to do that for your career?
A. I had to do that at the time, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do.
Q. You don’t seem like the type of actress who would pose for Maxim.
A. I’m not; and I fought it at the time. You have no idea how much I fought it. It boiled down to choosing the lesser of two evils.
Q. Please explain?
A. This is a business, and I’m not stupid. I’m a smart young woman and I had to make a choice.
Q. What was the other evil you had to choose from?
A. Angering some people I shouldn’t anger. I could have risked my career. So I did the magazine shoot. It’s not the route I would choose to go, but I had to do it and I tried to do it as tastefully as possible. I don’t want to be that type of actress.
Q. I apologize but I had to ask.
A. No, it’s OK. You’re the first person to ever ask me about it. Most people assume it’s a rite of passage for actresses in Hollywood. But it’s not. It’s a choice, but at the time, it was a business decision. It’s not that I desired to be scantily clad on the cover of a magazine.
Q. You seemed to have survived the bimbo trap.
A. Yes, I have. Thank you.
Q. How did Couples Retreat fit into the master plan?
A. I accepted it before I even read the script because I couldn’t turn down the chance to work with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. The quality of the people involved, and the location of the shoot in Bora Bora, made it an easy choice. It was a five-week vacation and then they paid us for it when we got home. I feel spoiled even talking about it.
Q. And were you a fan of Astro Boy? I can’t picture you reading Japanese comic books.
A. I had never read the comic books, obviously, but I also never watched the various TV series based on the comic books. But I love animation. I’m fascinated by it.
Q. So, you figured that you weren’t doing anything that day so you’d do the voice of Cora in Astro Boy? Is that part of the plan as well?
A. I don’t have a plan. I fly by the seat of my pants. I do things that are fun for me. When I stop having fun acting, I’ll stop acting.
Q. With this movie and the series Gossip Girl, you do a lot of voice-over work. Why are you doing this kind of work when you’re supposed to be on a movie path?
A. I don’t separate the work. It’s all work for an actor. There is no stigma about working on television. As for Gossip Girl, I only have to do it every couple of weeks and I do several episodes at once so it’s easy. I don’t have to work as hard as the kids who are actually on the show. It’s fun, and that’s the whole point.
Q. But I would imagine it’s not very challenging for you as an actress. What role has really challenged you?
A.“Deadwood” was very challenging.
Q. That was pretty heavy.
A. I know. My parents haven’t even seen that final scene because it was so brutal. I’m so glad they haven’t seen it.
Q. You realize that they can see it on YouTube?
Q. I’m afraid so.
A. That’s not good.