Kristen Bell spills on her imperfect marriage
She's part of one of the biggest movie franchises of all-time, and won over a generation of teenagers to a TV cult favourite, but voicing Anna in Frozen and playing the sassy narrator in Gossip Girl has delivered more than just delicious anonymity for Kristen Bell.
The flexibility of voice-over acting has proved a career-plus for the married mother of two, who has made working from home - alongside actor husband Dax Shepherd - her art form.
"It gives me the opportunity to record at times that aren't midnight which is often the case with movies or TV shows," Bell tells TV Guide, "that's not comfortable for my kids. With something like [Frozen], I got to record between the hours of 10 and three, and then I still got to take them to school every morning and pick them up every afternoon."
It's that perfect balance that propelled Bell to sign on to the reboot of Gossip Girl [coming to Foxtel] and to join her Frozen co-star Josh Gad [known the world over as the voice of Olaf the snowman] in a charming new animated series for kids, young and old.
As the title suggests, the focus of the series - from the same creators of Bob's Burgers - is the colour and community in and around New York's Central Park.
Gad is the show's narrator and guide, Birdie, a trilling troubadour who bursts into song about his love for the public park; while Bell is Molly Tillerman, the bi-racial, 13-year-old daughter of park manager Owen [Leslie Odom Jr], who lives in the park guard house with his journalist wife Paige [Kathryn Hahn] and son, Cole [Titus Burgess].
The brilliant Stanley Tucci is the show's villain, a Park Avenue heiress called Bitsy Brandenham, who has her evil eye on turning the parkland into a condo development.
Daveed Diggs is her embattled personal assistant, Helen who cops Bitsy's constant abuse and cleans up after her Shi-poo dog, Shampagne.
Think Karen Walker and Rosario, in Will & Grace.
Bell warmed to the series and her character, "who is finding her way in the world."
"She's a typical 13-year-old … relentlessly creative, easily embarrassed and vomits her words out. But she draws these comic strips and in them, she's the superhero. So she feels weird in real life, but on the page she's able to draw herself with strength."
Setting up such positive role models for her own daughters, both in Frozen and now Central Park, was part of the appeal for Bell.
The young girls, Delta, six and Lincoln, seven, have struggled during the COVID crisis, Bell says.
"They haven't asked a ton of questions, but as a parent, you can see when their eyes are asking questions but their mouths don't know how to say them. We've been very open about telling them what the disease is. They know about germs and washing your hands, so they understood the initial concept but we have said that this one is worse, especially if you are older. We've tried to give them an opportunity to ask questions, but it hasn't really happened."
Even though she works from home more often than not, Bell says she has suffered from paralysis by analysis.
"There is a lot more time to think about what the other person is doing, accomplishing, saying, meaning or inferring - things that normally you would just go off to work and go, 'oh, I'm not going to think too much about that comment. Whatever!' Now there is all of the time to conclude things about your partner that make your confirmation bias correct. That is something I have tried to think about a lot."
Her happy marriage to Shepherd, who starred as Crosby Braverman in Parenthood, is held up in Hollywood as one of the healthiest - but Bell is not buying into it.
"I love my husband so much and we do talk about this label we have been given, which is very flattering. One thing that is really important to us to shatter is this thing about waiting for your perfect person. Dax was not my perfect person. I am not his perfect person. I became a good enough person to learn how to earn someone like him and he did the same. So when people put us on a pedestal, we get a little nervous because I don't want anyone to think, 'I just need to find my Dax Shepard,' or 'I just need to find my Kristen.' I want people to be realistic. We both did a lot of work on ourselves to earn a partner."
The couple have started a budget baby products business, called Hello Bello, while Bell has a new book due out, The World Needs More Purple People.
"It's a book about the things that make us the same - attributes like hard work and laughter. Things that everybody, no matter what you believe, can agree upon. It's also required adult reading as well as for kids," she says.
Turning 40 next month, Bell is embracing the milestone.
"Age is something I wear like a badge of honour. I think that has something to do with the fact that I like wisdom. I like having been there and learned from experience. I love evolving. Also, because I am small and I have the voice of a child," she laughs, "I have always been treated younger than I am. So now I get to brag about my age."
* Central Park, streaming, Apple TV+
Originally published as Kristen Bell spills on her imperfect marriage