INTERVIEW: Kristen Bell Talks Surviving High School!
Perky, pretty actress Kristen Bell always tells us something fun! This time we're in Beverly Hills getting the scoop on her new "mean-girl-from-Hell" comedy You Again. Kristen plays Marni, the picked-on girl in high school. Odette Yustman plays Joanna, the "mean girl" who, years later, is marrying Marni's brother! Talk about a nightmare.
We got some fun personal stories and Kristen's tips for surviving mean girls and she compares Hollywood to high school for us. She and co-star Odette Yustman are now both engaged (Kristin to Dax Shephard and Odette to "Brothers and Sisters" actor Dave Annable) but they weren't while making the film. Kristen says that both young actresses are now very happy for each other and have since talked about their special plans.
Picture Kristen in cute print dress covered with a cuddly grey sweater against the hotel's cold air conditioning. Let's first get her advice on dealing with bullies in high school....
TeenHollywood: What advice would you give to high schoolers on how to survive the gossip and bullying?
Kristen: Do not let who you are [or who people label you] in high school determine who you are for the rest of your life. Your dynamic with everyone will change when you graduate high school.
High school is a pit of despair. It's a swirling tornado of insecurities and there's really nothing good about it. It's at the time when everybody is waking up with different opinions every day and you're on this learning curve of who you are and who you want to be and you're comparing yourself with every other male and female around you and there's no sense to it.
Everybody just wants to be loved and nobody feels loved enough in high school. So everyone out of high school, I'd say lets just give all of our high schoolers a little break and let them know that they're super loved. If you're in high school I would say just know that there is a big old world out there and you can be anyone you want to be.
TeenHollywood: Great advice. I think a lot of teens can relate to the way your character Marni looked in high school; glasses, braces and some pimples. It looked pretty authentic.
Kristen: Thank you. I liked it. I actually wanted to push that envelope a lot further and was pulled back a couple of times. I came out of the makeup trailer with like 400 whiteheads on my face and they were like, 'Come on.' I said, 'What? It's realistic. I had whiteheads in high school. Come on.' They said, 'No. Lets just go with regular old acne, your standard run of the mill acne.'
TeenHollywood: People have compared the social and work whirl in Hollywood to high school. Do you see the comparison?
Kristen: Well, you choose to be a part of a profession that broadcasts your every desire and relationship and pimple and piece of cellulite to the rest of America which isn't the nicest thing to do, but we as human beings are slightly masochistic and I think that everybody is riddled with insecurities.
They manifest themselves in different ways; whether you're a pleaser, whether you're a jock, whether you're mean, whether you're super duper sweet and get walked on or whether you're someone that's a gossip and talks about someone else and anyone who is gossiping is just insecure about that person that they're gossiping about. Any time I've gossiped about anyone I've realized that it's like, 'Oh, s**t, that's because I was super jealous of her.' It's true. If everyone did a little personal inventory we'd all be in a much better state I think.
TeenHollywood: Do you have any "mean girl" memories?
Kristen: I remember my mom telling me something when I was in middle school that really stuck with me. She was at a dance her freshman year of high school, and they didn’t have a lot of money, so she borrowed a dress from her cousin, which she had worn a few years ago. She was in the bathroom and she heard a couple of girls come in saying, ‘What does that girl think this is, a square dance?’ Because her dress was kind of plaid. And it broke my mom’s heart, and she stayed in the stall the rest of the dance and then she went home.
TeenHollywood: What would you have done had you been in that bathroom?
Kristen: I think that I was born empathetic to a fault. So I would never a bully and if I ever did see bullying I, with the meek personality I held in high school, did my best to intervene. But I think Hollywood has a tendency to be like that, really not considering that there are other human beings on the end of that gossip chain.
TeenHollywood: Tell us more about what you were like in high school.
Kristen: I had a lot of insecure moments in high school. It wasn't all just peachy keen but I don't necessarily think that I hated high school and wanted to crawl into a hole either. I wasn't a mean girl. I was way too insecure for that and way too paranoid that everybody liked me. So in that sense I was a little bit of a pushover but that was just because I really wanted to be accepted.
I just really wanted to make sure that I was not on anyone's bad side because I was too scared. I was so paranoid that my friends wouldn't like me.
TeenHollywood: You spend a lot of time in the movie looking for an apology from Odette’s character. Have you wished someone who was mean to you would apologize?
Kristen: Absolutely, a tough girl, who is still my best friend today did [apologize]. I was like 'Why did we not go on spring break together?’ And she was like, ‘You know, I don’t even know. I’m so sorry that we didn’t have our spring break together. That was so stupid. I don’t know what we were thinking.’ And I felt this huge weight be lifted off my shoulders. If both parties are willing to reconcile, I do believe that like anything forgiven.
TeenHollywood: You realize guys don't think along these lines at all?
Kristen: [laughs] Yeah, guys are dumber but guys have a different way of [handling it]. We don’t go to the bar and punch each other’s lights out. We don't go cruising for bar fights on a Saturday night. We don’t beat each other’s heads in. We just sharpen our claws.
TeenHollywood: Cats to dogs. Being the dog lover you are, what was your experience of actually performing a few scenes with the dog, especially since Coco Puff doesn’t really like Marni to begin with?
Kristen: Listen, that was hard, because I loved that dog so much. I’m the person that’s like during lunch I'm with the animal trainer, being like, ‘Show me what you have in the truck.’ I'd be playing with all the dogs, so it was a little bit difficult for me to not be able to play with the dog as much on set, because he did have to just walk past me, but I loved that dog. He’s very talented, I would work with him again. There were two other dogs that looked like him. They find these dogs at the pound, they always rescue them and they find dogs that look identical and sometimes they dye their fur.
TeenHollywood: What was it like to have Jamie Lee Curtis play your mom? She's a pistol!
Kristen: Amazing! Part of the reason that I wanted to do this film is because it's so few and far between that you read a really good female-driven comedy, especially one that doesn't lend itself to being such a romantic comedy and you don't have some brain dead doe-eyed girl staring at her coworker wishing that he would put a ring on her finger.
This script has so many feisty and sassy women that when I found out that it was going to be Sigourney [Weaver] and Jamie Lee I didn't know what to do. I was off my rocker. I was like, 'I can't believe this. Do you think they'll still have me?!' It was right back to high school. 'Is everybody going to like me, do you think?'
TeenHollywood: You really had some fun moves on the dance floor in one scene. Does this come from your past dancing experience?
Kristen: Yeah, I've got moves obviously, but they're maybe not dancer moves. I just feel rad when I'm doing them. I grew up in an entirely Jewish neighborhood and I just ripped it at some Bar and Bat mitzvahs when I was growing up. I have the videos to prove it. My friends and I were obsessed with making up dances like 'The Stewardess' where you do kind of like this (she pretends to point to the exits). I had a minor amount of dance training but it was really just a free for all. The minute that we started I was like, 'I want to do "Thriller". I want to do it right now and I want to do it really bad,' which means that I'll do it how I really do it.
TeenHollywood: Can you talk about all the physical comedy in this movie? Was it choreographed or did it just happen?
Kristen: The lucky thing for me is that I can pretty much let it happen and whether you want it in the scene or not you're going to get it. Look at how much I'm fussing right here. I can barely stay on the chair. I've got a lot of nervous energy but I also trip a lot.
I just don't think that I have a good equilibrium and in the places where the physical comedy was necessary it came very naturally. It was fun. I embrace it. I've long since abandoned any notions of being as elegant as Sigourney Weaver. I know my place.
TeenHollywood: You are still the voice of "Gossip Girl". Say anything juicy yet this year?
Kristen: I have said some juicy stuff. I have. I just started back up and you know they're in Paris. It's really good. That's all I'll say.
TeenHollywood: So you are in the film Burlesque. Anything you are starting soon?
Kristen: I'm about to go to Alaska to shoot Everybody Loves Whales. Ken Kwapis is directing with Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. It's about thing in 1988 that happened where the whales got trapped up in Alaska and it was all about rescuing them back out into the open water.