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Liberty Bell: Chatting with Kristen Bell of "Heroes"

Kristen Bell might just be the coolest girl in the whole wide world. She uses words like "wowzers," "jammies," and "dreamy" and she loves to watch BBC series like The Office and Little Britain. In other words, she's a woman after my own heart.

I caught up with the former Veronica Mars star between breakfast with Ryan Hanson (that's Dick Casablancas for you Mars fans out there) and a wardrobe fitting for her new series, Heroes. Bell's premiere episode is Monday and she's currently signed on to do at least 13 episodes on the second season of NBC's superhero drama as the enigmatic Elle.

What can she tell us about Elle? Bell was cautious not to give away any major spoilers. "I can’t reveal her secret powers," she said. "You’ll have to watch next Monday. But it’s a very cool power. [Elle] has ties to HRG and to Claire. And there’s going to be a very interesting dynamic I think, between her and Claire as far as what is and what is not... But she also has ties to a little bit to Suresh. And she’s a little messed up in the head, which makes her really manipulative and always out to get what she wants. She doesn’t have many boundaries which I think is the really interesting part of playing this character on this particular show because the whole first season has been about these, you know, fairly good-natured people in trying to embrace these confusing abilities and being very [conflicted] as to how they should be using them. Elle is not that way at all. She very much enjoys her power and enjoys the emotional power it gives her over other people."

Hmm, Elle's ability gives her "emotional power" over other people? Very curious. (Mind control? Telepathy?)

As for those pesky rumors that she turned down a role on Season Four of Lost to take the part on Heroes, Bell set the record straight once and for all. "Well, I think that the facts of the situation are that the media might have gotten a little ahead of themselves because I had been spoken to about possibly doing a role on Lost, but I was never actually offered one," she said. "That certainly would have been, you know, a wonderful opportunity. But I think I have been such a fan of Heroes from the very beginning that this would have been the dreamiest situation I could have possibly thought up as my next job. So when Tim [Kring] came forward I sort of pounced on it."

For her part, Bell was a huge fan of Heroes from the start ("I joked with the writers that Heroes was the water cooler conversation that Veronica Mars on set.") and "certainly put feelers out there during Comic-Con" with the dream of one day appearing on the series. "It was ultimate flattery when they [came forward] and said we might have something for you to do," she added.

That something would be her first on-screen role since the demise of her own critically-acclaimed series Veronica Mars in May. (Bell lends her voice to the CW's freshman drama Gossip Girl, but don't expect to ever see her appear on-screen as the eponymous narrator, a job she relishes because she can show up to work in her "jammies.") As for whether the role has any longevity, she said that her role was open-ended and she herself wouldn't discount a long-term role on the series.

"I would be up for that," she said. "I think that this has been a great relationship so far. And there was no hesitancy with entering as far as becoming a main part of the show, just more like well from both ends it was like let’s feel each other out and see how you fit into the show and if you’re happy. [...] I am signed on for 13 which, you know, certainly to the discretion as how it fits into the major plot lines they could use me or I could just sit on the sidelines. But, quite frankly, I hope they use me because I’m really having a good time. And then at the end of the 13 we decided to have a pow-wow and sit down and see if it make sense for me to continue."

Personally, I wanted to get to know more about Bell herself and being a TV junkie, I thought that was the perfect tack to take.

Q: With the rise of shows like Chuck and a sudden emphasis on geek sub-culture, I’m wondering, as a female geek icon who is both beautiful and brainy, what your geeky guilty pleasures are?

Kristen Bell: Oh wow, my geeky, guilty pleasures? (I bet) my Comic-Con would be a geeky, guilty pleasure. I think the geekiest of all my pleasures at Comic-Con is I’d definitely try to go around and get pictures with every single person who dresses up. Because the people come in full costume. They just fascinate me, absolutely fascinate me.

And what’s even more fascinating is that if I were to come in costume like dressed as a Storm Trooper, I would kind of expect the fact that people are going to want pictures of me. And most of the time when I ask them for pictures they’re like so "oh, all right, just make it quick" like it’s like so frustrating for them. And it’s so fascinating to me because I’m like, well, you’re the one that came in costume so don’t get angry at me.

My geeky guilty pleasures, I don’t know. I mean certainly having done Fanboys [Bell's feature comes out in 2008], anything Star Wars is now sort of wonderful and fascinating to me and then the - and the fact that I’m sort of still learning. And all my friends are fanboys. So it’s not so much that I’m like typically going out on my own and - as much as I am learning from them and have just been so embraced by this community that I love it.

And now I’m sort of coming into my own as a fangirl and seeking things out like the New Beverly in Los Angeles had a double feature the other night of Tron and The Last Starfighter. So I was like I kind of need to see that at least just once in my life because that seemed like an awesome double feature, you know?

Q: Fantastic. What TV shows are you watching right now?

Bell: It’s on my Tivo. Pushing Daisies I love. I do of course support and watch our NBC line up of Chuck and Journeyman.

I’ve watched The Office since it started, which I love. And I love the BBC - I watch a lot of BBC shows, don’t watch all of that many American shows. I really like Little Britain. I’m excited that that’s coming out on HBO and even League of Gentlemen.

Although, I’m always kind of into reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos. That’s sort of my number one. That’s my geekiest, guilty pleasure. I’ll tell you that right there.

Q: Wow, Kristen Bell watches America's Funniest Home Videos?

Bell: And I don’t feel guilty about it because it’s an awesome show.

Kristen Bell's first appearance on Heroes airs Monday night at 9 pm on NBC.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Survivor: China (CBS); My Name is Earl/30 Rock (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

10 pm: Viva Laughlin (CBS); ER (NBC); Big Shots (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Ugly Betty.

On tonight's episode ("Grin and Bear It"): Alexis returns to work at Mode but her behavior is more like Alex's than Alexis', Daniel receives an ultimatum from a major advertiser (guest star James Van Der Beek), Amanda hunts for the identity of her father, and Betty begins her creative writing class by stealing someone else's story.

8:30 pm: 30 Rock.

What's on my mind grapes? It's the second season of the Emmy Award winning comedy. On tonight's episode ("The Collection"), Jack enlists the help of a private investigator (guest star Steve Buscemi) to prevent GE from digging up dirt about him, Angie announces her intention to shadow Tracy every moment of the day, and a now-famous Jenna scarily realizes that she's starting to lose weight.

9 pm: The Office.

The disastrous one-hour installments of The Office wrap up tonight with the final extended episode ("Money"), in which Jan renovates Michael's condo, forcing him to ask his employees for a loan to cover the payments, while Pam and Jim spend the night at Dwight's farm, which has been converted into a B&B.

10-11 pm: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX.

FX's hilariously subversive comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia continues tonight with two back-to-back episodes. On the first ("Mac Is a Serial Killer"), Frank, Dee, and Dennis believe that Mac is a serial killer on a murderous rampage through Philadelphia. On the second ("Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare"), Dennis and Dee decide to leave Paddy's and go on welfare, while Frank drives Mac and Charlie insane with his incessant meddling.


eAi said…
Great interview. Sadly no mention of VM, though I guess thats pretty much done and dusted now :(

Can't wait to see her on Heroes, I'm sure she'll be very popular, and hopefully bring more people to VM... you never know!
The CineManiac said…
So, apparently KB was super shocked and excited that the entire promo for next weeks episode was basically promoting the "Kristen Bell Hour" She apparently had no idea they were going that route.
Anonymous said…
I heart her.
Carrie said…
America's Funniest Home Videos! A girl after my own heart. I adore that stupid show.
I heart Kristen Bell too! Thanks for the great interview, Jace!

I have never been a Heroes fan but I may have to tune in just to see my favorite spunky blonde in action now that VM is gone.
Anonymous said…
You're killing me, Jace. I can't believe someone I know got to interview KB. I know, I know, you do this sort of thing all the time, but... I'm a sad little fanboy. In fact, you've inspired the next post on my blog, which I'll be finishing up in the morning.

Smashing picture of her, too. Are you responsible for that?

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