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Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Kristen Bell Interview

by Rick Duran, Senior Editor

Kristen Bell is one of the fastest rising female stars in Hollywood. From her critically acclaimed former show Veronica Mars to a wildly popular guest stint on NBC’s Heroes, Bell is now moving on to the film world as the title character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the latest R-Rated romp from Judd Apatow’s comedy goldmine.  The Frat Pack Tribute had a chance to participate in the film’s press day roundtable session with Ms. Bell as she discussed her Hawaii adventures with Jason Segel and Russell Brand, in addition to her many other projects. We were also fortunate enough to witness an emotional moment as she discussed the cancellation of Veronica Mars and her relationship with the cast.

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You get to follow Russell Brand
Kristen Bell: He was just here? Ok, nice seeing you all. (laughter)

You have to be as outrageous and disgusting as he was.
KB: Oh, I’m planning on it. (laughter)

How did you end up reigning him in, because it’s almost like his character is more subdued than he is in real life? Was he a total professional and can his role just end in character?
KB: There were definitely takes where he was much more Russell than Aldous. Just because when they were first finding Aldous, they were trying to figure out what’s the best rock star stereotype to portray. You know, the ultimate back-talking destructive one or somewhat a little more aloof. He and Nick found that and brilliantly… the thing about Russell is that, you know, he’s… When he’s on, he has the vocabulary of an alien.   And he is hysterical, but when he’s off and just more one-on-one, he, and I don’t mean to ruin his street-cred right now, but he is really kind.  And he is much softer, and he is… We had a lot of sex scenes together and we didn’t really know each other that well, but he was so comfortable to work with, and quite protective actually.

Really? I couldn’t imagine that.
KB: Nobody would

He talked about his appendage throughout his interview.
KB: Of course he does. That’s why I’m planning on outing and destroying his street cred because he was… What he would do, he would always make sure I was tucked in like a burrito with a sheet when the cameras weren’t rolling.  And I am by no means an exhibitionist, I grew up super modest. I grew up in the theater so when I’m on set and it’s a job, if I’m wearing something skimpy then that’s the job.  You know, I’ve been lucky enough to work with wonderful crew members that create a very safe environment and everybody, you know, nobody is there to exploit you.  But, you know, you’re wearing pasties throughout the entire movie, you get comfortable with it. You know? I don’t know how you do, but you do.  And he would literally cover me up. 

Wouldn’t that be how he has so much success? With making women feel comfortable
KB: I suppose! I suppose people are saying, “Oh, that’s probably gonna get him, you know, more girls.” But I think it came out of a very sweet, caring part of Russell that not a lot of people see.

But he’s propping you up, obviously.
KB: No… well, a little bit. (laughs)

Why didn’t that charm rub off on you a little bit?
KB: No, I don’t know, cuz… cuz

You’re going red now!
KB: No, I adore Russell but, um, Russell and I are just friends. (laughter)

Now, what was it like holding a naked Jason Segel?
KB: Wooooo! Uh, I wasn’t holding, oh yeah, you’re right; I did.  You’re right, I did. Um, you know, that was a very big day for Jason.  It was one of the last things we shot.  And we’re all really close a crew and as a cast, so we all just want to make him comfortable. I don’t know if they told you, but they printed T-shirts that have the date on them and have little sayings on the back like, “Keep it up, Jason.”  (laughter) And we would try to make him as comfortable as possible, but then there was a point where he got comfortable enough and we so clearly in coverage, and he was still naked.  And like, “What’s the frame on this? We’re here, right?”  And he’s still here. And if there was some kind of nylon sock involved, which I’m gonna tell you, just draws more attention to the area than if it didn’t have a nylon sock on it.  So uh, you know, he’s… I just hope he was comfortable.  I think he did a great job and I’m so proud of him.

Were you comfortable?
KB: I didn’t let on that I wasn’t. Yeah, you’re doing a scene with a naked man.  I just, I’m lucky he’s taller than me and my eyes stayed to the sky. 

Have you ever dated a couch potato and tried to get him off the couch?
KB: (Sighs) I’ve been the couch potato. 

So they’re trying to get you off the couch?
KB: For sure.  I’m either, I tend to work very hard when I’m working and in my off-time, I barely leave the house.  I’m definitely one or the other. I will either have three jobs at one time like I do now, or I will just be completely stuck in bed every day and watch Jeff Corwin all day and I am happy as a clam.

Have you had somebody hold your purse while you take a picture?
KB: I have had a couple different people in my life hold my purse, so I would never ask anyone, friend, boyfriend or you know, anyone, to do it too many times. Because it really does strip you of your dignity a little bit.  And in a pinch, it’s nice if someone’s doing you the favor. But when asked repeatedly, the amount of times they show her, him holding Sarah’s purse is what really gets it to be like, “Oh it’s no longer a favor. It’s gotten embarrassing.” 

Have you ever had trouble defending a project like the way Sarah Marshall did with the cell phone movie?
KB: I’m sure you all know, I know what you’re getting at here… here’s the irony of the situation.  I did a movie that was about electronics wanting to kill you. Fact: I did it a couple years ago.  Nick and Jason wrote that scene and I said, “Really guys? Really? Like this is hitting home too much.”  And they went, honestly, they went, “What do you mean?”  And I said, “The cell phone thing.” They were like, “You don’t think it’s funny? I think it’s hysterical; a plotline about a killer cell phone?”  And I was like, “I did the movie about the cell phone, dude!” 

It was memorable, obviously
KB: Clearly! Not a lot of people saw it. But um, it was unbelievable to me. We laughed about it for a week.  And I thought, you know what, I bugged them about it for a while, they really didn’t know about it. 

I interviewed you about that movie and you defended it to the hill, so is it…
KB: Well, you know what? I mean…

Or are you just a really damn good actress?
KB: You know, you never know how everything is going to come out.  I thought it was a good movie. Was it the best horror movie ever made? Absolutely not.  Was it the worst?  No way.  It did have a few holes, but whatever. It was what it was. It was wonderful to make, it was an enjoyable movie.  But the fact that they wanted to make fun of it made me a little uncomfortable because, A: I was grateful for that break.  B: I really loved the people involved and I don’t wanna… I love comedy, but I don’t want to go so far with comedy that it hurts anyone’s feelings.  So I couldn’t figure out how they would’ve had that instinct to write without knowing, and they really didn’t.

I actually didn’t know you were in the cell phone movie.
KB: Really?  I was (laughter)

You were brilliant in that movie, cuz it really was…
KB: Thank you

I just wanted to know, because I’m asking everybody, what and where would be your escape choice after a breakup? Would you go to Hawaii? Would you go somewhere else? Would you stay home?
KB: I would do a national tour of theme parks.  (laughter) Oh yeah, my own entertainment. 

The entire country?
KB: Sure.

What are your Top 5?
KB: Cedar Point; Sandusky, Ohio.  Um, Knott’s Berry Farm out here.  Disney World, Florida.  5… They’re kind of my Top 3.  I do love theme parks. I love roller coasters.  I grew up near Cedar Point, we went every summer.  “Get to the Point,” that’s the catch phrase. Um, it’s in Sandusky, Ohio, it’s about a two and a half hour drive from Detroit where I grew up.  And it was um, they have, they always outdo themselves the next summer, building another enormous roller coaster. And I was there for opening of The Magnum, which not today, but I think was the third tallest in the world. Um, and I fully went on opening day. 

So that’s what makes you happy, that’s what you do.
KB: Oh yeah, I love it.  Yeah

Do you like the screaming and the whole sort of…
KB: I don’t really scream, I sort of just freeze up.  But I do really like feeling when your stomach goes up into your mouth. 

Did the writers strike shorten your Heroes arc? Is there more we didn’t see?
KB: Yes and there’s more that you will see.  It interrupted the arc.

Cuz the rumor was that you weren’t coming back
KB: Who told you that?

I think, uh, well actually my wife
KB: (laughs) Get her on the phone, get a hold of her.  Um, if I don’t come back, it will be because they… because we couldn’t work it out.  I want to go back.  As far as I’m concerned, I am going back.  I’m not under contract, but I had such a good relationship with them and I had so much fun doing it. And it’s such a great storyline.  And I shot two other episodes that won’t actually air till we shoot the entire arc.  Um, I did take a movie unfortunately because I’m not under contract and I’m in New York for 12 weeks.  So I’ll be about 4 weeks late coming back to when they shoot.  But as of right now, the negotiation is going on and they’ll be able to file my scenes in and I’ll just shoot a condensed version when I get back and then catch up to everyone else.  And then they don’t air until September and they have the ability to do that.

Is that the When in Rome?
KB: When in Rome

Are you actually gonna go to Rome too to shoot?
KB: Yeah

That’s why you’re doing the movie, right?
KB: Right? C’mon! And I’m not very well-traveled, and I’m so excited to go.  I mean I… I’m so excited to go.  I’m excited to go back to New York for sure.  And the majority of it is in New York, and I went to NYU so that’s sort of my old hangout. 

Is it a romantic comedy?
KB: Mm-hmm

And you take out coins from the Trevi Fountain in this?
KB: Yeah, she accidentally puts, uh, seven coins in her pocket from the fountain.  Um, and throughout the course of the movie there’s seven suitors, that had thrown them in the fountain wishing for passion or love or connection, start to stalk her.

So have they cast all the suitors yet?
KB: Um, they are in negotiations with… I can’t reveal their names, they’re not signed yet.  But they are in negotiations with some awesome actors and comedians.  And I’m genuinely excited about it, because a lot of the people involved I’ve actually been excited to work with for a while, like before this movie. Like, “Oh I’d really like to work with that comedian.”

 Did you have to learn to surf for this movie and did you save any of that cool beach wardrobe for yourself?
KB: Well, I did (pause) I think (pause), I didn’t have surfing lessons. Mila had Japanese lessons, I had a horseback riding lesson, and Russell and Jason had surfing lessons.  But during my horseback riding lessons, and I rode as a kid, um they, I had, you know, 8 sessions or whatever it was, to get me comfortable on the horse so we could do it.  And that scene’s actually been cut from the movie, but it’ll be on the DVD.  Two sessions in I was remembering all the stuff I grew up with, and she was like, “Oh we could just mess around,” and there were beautiful trails. And we would ride on the beach.  And they let me go swimming with the horse, Baba, into the ocean. I’m sure you’ve heard about him, he’s the greatest horse in Hawaii. Um, we went into the water because Baba loves to swim.  So he’d go up to my waist.  And he’s completely submerged with just his head sticking up.  It is a divine experience. 

Did you practice with Russell’s horseride? Because he gave an amusing anecdote
KB: I was there when his horse fell. 

Well, he was talking about how he’d never ridden a horse before. He didn’t feel in control, basically.
KB: (In a mock British accent) ‘This is a wild animal!’ Yeah, I know, I’ve heard it, I’ve heard it.  We actually did have, I shouldn’t make it any less dramatic than it is, we did have one scare where my horse was in front of his horse and maybe his horse sniffed my horse or did something and my horse kicked his.  And his horse just sort of went down and he sort of slipped forward and he felt really out of control and scary.  And it’s sort of started talking more about how that fact we are really riding, it’s not a car; you can’t pull the brakes.  This is an animal that has thought processes.  If he’s hungry, he’s going to stop, no matter how hard you pull, which is very true. And I think a lot of good horseback riders can work with that and understand that and be as compassionate as possible. 

Did you keep any of the cool wardrobe?
KB: Unfortunately I didn’t, and believe me, I wish I did. Sarah Marshall has the best wardrobe ever.

How do you get ready for the beach?
KB: (sighs) Here’s an embarrassing thing that I will admit.  I have lived in Los Angeles, it will be six years in October.  I can count maybe a dozen times that I’ve been to the beach.  But then, I don’t... I don’t love the beach; at least in Los Angeles.  I don’t really know what my beach routine is.  Um, outside of Los Angeles, I kind of guess I do.  I went to the beach a lot in Hawaii.  I mean, basically just SBF.  A ton of SBF because I don’t, um, I don’t want to burn.  I don’t want to get skin cancer. (laughs)  And so other than that and hydrating… oh, I did go to the beach a couple months ago with my friends and we played Bacchi Ball. It was my first time playing Bacchi Ball.

What is that?
KB: Like when you try to throw a ball…and you get it as close to the stick as possible. 

You don’t live close to the beach then?
KB: No, I live in Studio City.

Oh do you?
KB: Mm-hmm

Doing the voice for Assassins, how did you like working for a game?
KB: Um, I grew up playing a lot of video games and I’m not as avid of a player as I used to be, but I love video games. I think the way that Assassin’s Creed turned out is awesome.  It’s on par with any movie that you see that kind of animation for.  It was really fun, because I mean, I like that world. It’s a really intense game.  It’s a gamer’s game.  That’s a game you lock yourself in the house for four hours a day playing.  That is an intense game.

Are you gonna do more?
KB: I think we’re working on the second one, yeah.  And I believe I will be signing on for it.

What about your music? I know you miss singing; don’t you miss singing and stuff?
KB: Very much

Are you thinking of being in a musical movie?
KB: Um, yeah, I mean it’s sort of, you know, you don’t really know when things come up.  I think it’s a priority to go back to. I just sang in a benefit for Alzheimer’s that we did a couple weeks ago that Jason Alexander directed. 

Oh really?
KB: Yes, mm-hmm. Keeping it on the forefront of my life is very important, so when opportunities like When in Rome come up, it’s something you’ve got to take it there.

What did you sing in the benefit?
KB: I sang, we did all selections from Bye Bye Birdie, so I sang “A Lot of Livin’ to Do.”

What other movies do you have coming out?
KB: Fanboys, which does not have a release date yet. 

You interviewed about that two years ago.
KB: Yeah

Are you disappointed that it’s being strung around all the time?
KB: I mean, I’m disappointed that it hasn’t come out yet.  I don’t know about, I don’t know where it is.  I haven’t seen and I haven’t, I can’t make a judgment call.

Well, they’ve said January…
KB: Yeah, they’ve had quite a few release dates for it and I’m just trying to stay as supportive as possible cuz I really don’t know any more than you guys.  They’re really tight-lipped about it and they don’t even tell us. 

And Serious Moonlight?
KB: It was so much fun to do.  I had been a fan of Cheryl Hines before I worked with her and she stepped into the role of just cool, confident female director.  It was so impressive.  It was Adrienne Shelley’s last script.  There was a lot of weight involved in that.

Did you see Waitress?
KB: I did and I loved it.  It was almost the same team, the same whole team from Waitress; the same producers.  It was only four characters, it was really cool.  It takes place where three of them are tied up in the bathroom for half the movie.  We shot it in 15 days.  It was really interesting. 

Will it go to film festivals?
KB: I don’t know what Cheryl’s going to do with it.  I know she’s editing it right now.  My guess is that it would.

You do the voice for Gossip Girl. Do you know if there’s any plan to reveal who Gossip Girl is?
KB: Um, I don’t think so because I think that when you watch the show, she’s just more of a narrative that doesn’t actually exist.  Um, so I don’t think so.

Would you do more tv?
KB: Would I? Yeah, if I liked it.  I don’t really separate the mediums in my head so much.  Um, I did Heroes because I really.. A.: I loved the show.

It was an exceptional thing
KB: Right, absolutely.  Yeah, it would depend on what it was. The same thing as taking a film, it all depends. 

Going back to Sarah Marshall, had there always been that little element in the script that made her a sympathetic character towards the end? Or had it always had her in a negative light?
KB: It went back and forth.  There were always elements of being sympathetic.  I think we have the minimum amount. I mean, I would’ve loved to… I think the more you can get in there, the better.  Though I completely trust these filmmakers and their editing process and think that it’s exactly where it should be right now. Yeah there’s definitely, it was a balance of wanting to make her likeable, but also there’s so much comedy in the bitchy parts of her, but also accurately portraying that she did have her reasons for breaking this up.  It wasn’t what was fulfilling her anymore, and it wasn’t being mean, it was just about it doesn’t appeal to someone to be with someone that’s completely locked themselves in the apartment and survives solely on Fruit Loops.  You know what I mean? She was looking for someone different and that was an unfortunate thing to admit.  But I think that a lot of the speeches, some of them were improve and some of them were what Jason wrote pretty brilliantly, which is what let you in on her thought process and didn’t demonize her so much.

Were you comfortable with all that improve because you done a lot of structured shows?  With all that going on around you, was it fun to participate or did it daunt you?
KB: Both, it was very nerve-wracking and a lot of fun.  And you just had to go in there and you gave.  You had to just try.  And you had to come in with, you know, specific decisions made about your character.  And you had to come in willing to let any of those be bulldozed by other people.

What was the biggest improve that you did?
KB: The biggest improv?

Yeah, or what was the funniest thing that you came up with?
KB: I don’t even know if I could remember.  We did two weeks of rehearsals where we improv’ed all these different scenes.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember what was in the original original script I read, and then all of the re-writes that Jason did on top of it that were stuff that we came up. It sort of meshes together up in my brain.  I wish I’d separate it more, but they were phenomenally collaborative about either giving suggestions or “Hey, try this,” or me being able to say, “Hey Nick, I really want to try this.”  Um, it’s a really neat way to work.  A really neat way to work.

It’s funny that they didn’t know about the cell phone movie. I think I remember talking to Jason on the set. He said the mystery show had nothing to do with Veronica Mars either. 
KB: Right, it’s weird.  There were, those are the two definite ironic circumstances.  Veronica Mars got cancelled two weeks before we caught that scene.  So it was completely a realistic reaction. 

How did that make you feel?
KB: I thought it was gonna go, I really did.  I thought that the first two years too.  Yeah, the first two years that it was picked up, I really did.  I thought, um, we knew our numbers were stagnant.  They weren’t bad, they weren’t good, but they were holding.  But I understand that being the head of a network, you have to take into consideration how much space you can sell for commercials; that’s what it’s really based on.  But I totally get it, the business aspect of it.  But it was just, it was heartbreaking. You know?  Because those were my family, those people were my family. 

We visited the set the night you guys shot at the Egyptian, and that night Enrico Colantoni had come to visit you. Do you still keep in contact with all the old cast?
KB: I’m seeing ten of them tonight for dinner.  We probably do it every four or five months, probably three times a year. 

Are you cooking?
KB: Yes; well, people are bringing stuff.  But I mean, yeah, it’s... we do keep in touch a lot.  Which is great, because we did get along really well and that sort of family aspect hasn’t been lost.  Enrico and I are still really really close and I love that. Thanks guys! Bye!

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