Kristen Anne Bell (born July 18, 1980 in Huntington Woods, Michigan) is an American actress. Although 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 début as Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. After moving to Los Angeles, Bell landed various television guest appearances and small film parts before appearing in a lead role in the David Mamet film Spartan. She gained fame as the title role on the critically acclaimed television series Veronica Mars from September 2004 to May 2007. During her time on Veronica Mars, Bell appeared as Mary Lane in the film Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, a reprise of the role she had played in the New York theatrical production of the musical on which the film was based. 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 off-screen titular narrator. In 2008, she played the title character in the comedy movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She has since appeared in a number of comedy films such as Fanboys, Couples Retreat, and When in Rome. Bell was also the voice of Cora in Astro Boy and is the voice and face of Lucy Stillman in the Assassin's Creed video game series. Bell has received a Satellite Award and Saturn Award, and has been nominated several times for Television Critics Association Awards and Teen Choice Awards. Early life and family Bell was raised in Huntington Woods, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. She is the daughter of Tom Bell, the television news director for WOAI-TV in San Antonio, and Lorelei "Lori" Bell, a registered nurse. Bell is of Polish and Scottish descent. Her parents divorced when she was two years old, and she has two half sisters, Sara and Jody, from her father's second marriage. She has four step-siblings from her mother's second marriage to John Raymond Avedian, Laura, John, Matt Avedian, and Megan. Bell has strabismus, 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 aggravates the ailment. She calls her right eye "Wonky". At the age of four, Bell claimed she did not like her first name. 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. 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 City to attend 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 version 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. Kristen Bell also portrays Sally Wister in The History Channel’s Choosing Sides: Young Voices on the Revolution currently showing at Independence Hall visitors center in Philadelphia. 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. 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 Channel movie The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay. Kristen Bell appeared on the show Punk'd. Breakout (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 the U.S. President, 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"). At 24 she 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, the series starred Bell 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. 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. 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 a spoof of the 1936 exploitation film of the same name. 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 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, 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 Thomas officially announced in an email to TV Guide's Michael Ausiello that Veronica Mars had been canceled by the CW. 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. On July 29, 2007, during a train ride back to Los Angeles 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 want[ed] 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 turned down the role 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. Bell reprises her role of Lucy in Assassin's Creed II released on November 17, 2009, and again in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, released on 16 November 2010. In the spring of 2006, she finished filming the Star Wars-themed comedy Fanboys, which 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 also starred in the 2009 comedies Serious Moonlight, alongside Meg Ryan, and Couples Retreat, which chronicled four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort. Jason Bateman played her husband. 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; the film was released in 2010. Bell reprised her role as Sarah Marshall for a cameo appearance in the film Get Him to the Greek, a spin-off sequel from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, released June 4, 2010. Bell has also said that when she is free from film and television roles, she would like to perform on stage again. She co-starred with singers Christina Aguilera and Cher in the movie-musical Burlesque which was released on Thanksgiving in 2010. Bell has joined the cast of Scream 4, which is set to be released on April 15, 2011. She is also attached to the films Everbody Loves Whales and Dance of the Mirlitons. She has also appeared in the music video for "Madder Red" by Brooklyn experimental rock band Yeasayer. 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 Brussel 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 also done a public service announcement for Do Something's great Healthy Living Campaign. Bell supported, and campaigned for, Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. Along with Rashida Jones, she visited college campuses in Missouri to discuss the candidates and encourage voter registration. 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 went on to date actor Dax Shepard. As of January 2010, she is engaged to 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. As she is a Detroit native, she is also an avid fan of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.
Friday, July 18, 1980
Huntington Woods, Michigan, USA