Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Am I the only one who really likes "Veronica Mars" (the only one over 30, I mean?)

Interview With Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Article written by Craig Byrne - NeptuneSite

Kristen Bell is the incredibly talented lead actress in UPN's Veronica Mars, which airs on Tuesdays at 9PM on the UPN television network. The show is building a bit of a following, particularly on the Internet, and Neptunesite was fortunate enough to be included on a conference call press junket involving Ms. Bell.

So what is it like being on a show that has started off slowly in the ratings and is now growing and establishing itself as a cult hit?

"To be totally honest, I think that's the best way to start out of the gate. I think that we knew what we were going into, having it aired on UPN. But they have been phenomenally supportive as a network, and I think they've really done right by the show," she says. "It's kind of a cooler way to come in like an indie film and come under the radar, and then all of the sudden have a lot of people realize 'Oh, this is like a great show that I haven't been watching? I'll check it out.' You know. It's kind of like a cool indie film comes in, as opposed to like a huge blockbuster that is advertised everywhere, and everyone knows about."

"I would really have to say that there's not much like it on TV right now," Kristen says. "I would put it in the category of teen drama, but I would say that it's much smarter and much darker than anything I've ever seen on television. Rob Thomas [the creator] once says it was like if Twin Peaks were to meet The O.C. and Dawson's Creek and sort of roll it all into one."

The show has begun to achieve a growing cult following, which, coupled with its female lead and appearance on one of the smaller television networks, has brought in comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What does Kristen think of these comparisons?

"I'm really flattered. I think that's something that Rob intended for it to do, and it has, which is fabulous. I think that it's definitely in that vein of that strong female heroine of both Buffy or Alias, or, you know, I hope that we're in that category. The great thing about Veronica is that there's much more reality involved, so for people watching there's less to suspend. You know, she's not fighting vampires. She's just sort of fighting cruel kids in high school." EDITOR'S NOTE: YES, BUT SHE DOES IT WITH SUCH SPUNK, AND INTELLIGENCE, AND WIT. IT'S QUITE ENJOYABLE. AND THERE'S SO MUCH MORE GOING ON THAN JUST ANY ONE GENRE OF SHOW.

She has seen how the ratings for the show are still not what they could be, but she also sees the positive response the show has received from the fans. "If you believe the good reviews, you have to believe the bad, and I sort of feel the same way about the ratings, but it is nice to go on the fan sites and see how much effort, and the comments, and how into it people are, 'cause that's in a way the same thing."

The show's growing number of fan-made websites has also caught Kristen Bell's attention. "I'm just amazed at how much effort people have put into the sites. I think that they are so phenomenal. I mean, the stuff is on within hours of it airing or of me doing a TV appearance or something. I'm really, really amazed by that."

Veronica is a teen slueth for the 21st century, but the actress that plays her actually didn't read the books about one of her literary predecessors.

"I didn't read all the Nancy Drew novels," Kristen reveals. "I wish I did, now that I look back on it, 'cause this is so like it, but when I see a mystery, like a movie of a TV show, I'm certainly into it just 'cause I want to know the details. And so I figured when I got cast, that I would be able to have all the inside info and know what's going on, and I really don't. They don't tell me anything. So it's just as frustrating as being a viewer, being on the show, 'cause I really only know details like two weeks ahead of everyone else. So I have no idea who killed Lilly. It's really just as frustrating."

Another mystery Veronica has to tackle this season involves the possibility of Jake Kane being her father. If Kane is her father, that may imply that the relationship between Veronica and her ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane was actually involving a brother and sister. "This issue will be dealt with either way," she reveals. "So however the outcome comes out, it will be dealt with, let me leave it at that. It will definitely be addressed more." And will the reveal be sooner rather than later? "Yes, they'll get more into it soon. The whole episode doesn't revolve around it, but there's the next few episodes that will help you out."

For the information the fans of course would want to know, does Kristen Bell have a favorite episode of Veronica Mars?

"I have two. I really liked the episode, I think it was 3 - the episode where we saw the flashback of where Duncan and Lilly and Logan and Veronica went to prom. ["The Wrath of Con"]. It was the first time that they really delved into the history behind all of those characters, and I thought that that was really cool and very moving to see how they all used to be so close, and how the sort of shattered lives that they live now. And I also - I really liked the purity test one. I thought it was so much fun. And we all ended up printing out the purity test, among the crew and stuff, and we all took it, and just giggled the whole week about our scores and stuff. So we were making jokes and posting letters on peoples' chairs and stuff."

"The Wrath Of Con" also featured one of the most memorable scenes in filming the series for Ms. Bell.

"Memorable sounds like a nice word, but I'm going to have to go the opposite route on this. My most memorable moment would have to be when it was about 4 in the morning. We were on the last scene of the night. We were all waist deep in a ice cold ocean, and I was having to dive in for that skinny-dipping scene that happened at the end of "Wrath of Con," because that will never be erased from my memory. It was so cold. But the shot ended up being really, really cool, and once I saw it, it was worth it. But, like half our crew was in the water and, for one little snippet, it's just a gorgeous shot at the end of the episode. Throughout the episode you hear that Lilly keeps saying you've never gone skinny dipping, you don't let loose, all this stuff. So at the end, sort of as a tribute, Veronica just jumps in."

That water and those settings actually are not in Los Angeles, where you would find most TV series. Veronica Mars, instead, is shot near and around San Diego, California.

"San Diego has such a different look than L.A.," she says. "It's got such a specific aesthetic to it. It's got such a different look. I mean, even in the pilot, you'll notice the motel scene that we shot where I saw Jake Kane go up to the motel. Just a lot of the street scenes. It's just a totally different look in San Diego, and I think it creates a different tone for the show, that they really wanted. To get a show that all the L.A. people couldn't say 'Oh, I know where that is'. You know?" EDITOR'S NOTE: SO OUR SAN DIEGO DWEEBPAL MARGARET SHOULD CHECK IT OUT AND TELL US IF SHE RECOGNIZES ANY LANDMARKS!

Although Kristen is a trained singer, don't look for a showcase on the show, where Veronica will be participating in some karaoke in an upcoming episode.

"It's not necessarily a song that shows off the voice, let me just say that," she says. "It's a little more 80's rock than it is something that necessarily shows off the fact that I trained as a singer, but it was a lot of fun to shoot."

As for the actress herself, what does she prefer to sing at karaoke?

"Oh, I've got a million," she says. "I can rock out anything. I mean, I can rock out a little Time After Time. I can do a little Greased Lightning. It depends on the mood, but we do go karaoke, my friends and I in Los Angeles, and it's a lot of fun."

Kristen also seems to really enjoy her castmates, though she is not shy in picking out a favorite - Enrico Colantoni, who plays dad Keith, takes that honor.

"Rico is probably by far my favorite, just because we have a lot of stuff together every episode, more so than I do with any of the boys, but he is one of the most generous individuals I've ever met, and has really like taken on the role of father in my life. Like, he's super-concerned for me about things, and he's just always asking how I am, and if I'm okay, and you know, you just feel like someone has that watchful eye on you of, like, comfort and security. He really has that, and we also get along really well. Our sense of humor's the same, so we just laugh all day long on the set. I just think he's a wonderful, wonderful man. And the boys - - we're really lucky to have such a good group of people, 'cause they're all fun. I mean, Percy is hysterical, and Teddy's the same way. Teddy is so sweet, and Jason - - I love watching Jason act, because he's so - - he's such a good actor, and there's so much coming up for him in the series, and I've really as an actor learned a lot from him, 'cause I've just been able to watch and he's so intense. And Francis is awesome and hysterical. I think we're lucky, 'cause there's not a bad egg."

When asked about working with Paris Hilton for the show's second episode, Kristen didn't seem to treat it differently from any other guest stars from the show.

"It was great. It was, you know, like anyone else who's been on the show. We've had a lot of really namey guest stars, which has been awesome for the show. Like having Tina Majorino, and Harry Hamlin, and Lisa Rinna," Kristen began. But what did Kristen think of Paris? "She was great. She's so busy. I mean, she wrote a book, and she has a CD, and she has like all this stuff going on, so she was kind of like zoomed in and zoomed out, and it was very fast. We didn't get to spend a lot of time together like other guest stars 'cause she only did a few scenes, but it was fun."

Kristen hints that a really cool guest star will be coming up on the series, but the show's publicist informed her that the announcement won't come until later this month.

The incredibly busy schedule (their first day back after the holiday break went 19 hours, and nights going as late as 4am are not uncommon) means Kristen rarely gets the time to catch anything on TV anymore, but she does admit to enjoying Extreme Home Makeover.

"I love Ty Pennington," she reveals. EDITOR'S NOTE: NO ACCOUNTING FOR TASTE, HUH? (WELL, SHE'S YOUNG). And although she has never actually seen the series, she wouldn't mind seeing Veronica in another very 09-er like district.

"I've never seen it, so I may be speaking out of turn, but just from what I've heard, I might have her go on The OC and maybe knock a little reality around. Go on, you know, a very like 90210 like show."

Kristen also reveals who she looks up to in the entertainment field. "I look up to actors that choose their projects wisely," she says. "I look up to a lot of female comedians, like Catherine O'Hara, or Toni Collette, or Jennifer Coolidge. That whole Christopher Guest crew, I really adore, 'cause I think that comedy is just so hard. So much harder than drama, good comedy is. Like the Gilda Radners and the Madeline Kahns. I really admire female comedians, 'cause I think that it takes so much charisma and so much to grab an audience, and keep them involved, and keep them respecting you when you're a female and a comedian. I just think that's the coolest thing to be."

Kristen, who still says "there's nothing like theatre," will soon be seen in Showtime's film version of "Reefer Madness," playing the character of Mary. She first played the same role on the stage. When asked what her alter ego of Veronica would think of Mary, she had this to say: "Veronica would have zero tolerance for Mary. Zero. Because Mary is vomitously perky, and Veronica would not tolerate that for a second."EDITOR'S NOTE: ANYONE WHO USES THE WORD 'VOMITOUSLY' IN A SENTENCE IS ACES IN MY BOOK.

Fans who started to "get a clue" a little late might want to catch up on what they've missed of the series, Kristen was also asked if a DVD release for Veronica Mars might be planned after the first season is complete.

"I can't imagine that they wouldn't," she says. "I would assume so, and I would assume that they'd put a ton of perks on the DVD." [No formal announcement of a Veronica Mars DVD has been made].

Those who have been watching since the beginning, however, will notice that the Veronica character has been evolving. "I think she's closer to discovering what will satisfy her, and I think that she knows it," Kristen says. "In the beginning she was sort of blindly determined, and now she's focused, which I think helps her on the inside a lot, knowing that now she's out for one thing and one thing only, which is finding out who killed Lilly, and before, there were a whole bunch of possibilities, and now she's homing in on 'em which I think is changing her and allowing her to get stronger, because she's more focused."

And about those names - Mars living in Neptune, and such - was that purposeful? "Rob [Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars] has said no, which I think is a little fishy sometimes. There's some freaky synchronicity. Like the last name of Lilly Kane, and Abel Koontz is in jail for killing her, so it's a Kane and Abel thing. And then you have the Neptune and Mars, but he says it was all an accident, so I've gotta believe him."

In parting, Kristen has a few words for the fans of the show who may be reading this. "Thank you for supporting, and for watching, and for giving it a chance to begin with, and for continuing to watch, and for getting the word out there. 'Cause I know there have been a lot of fans who have helped us word of mouth wise, and that's made a big difference."


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