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Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell

A quick-witted presence in films and on television since the early 2000s, actress Kristen Bell segued smoothly from assured turns in juvenile roles like "Veronica Mars" (UPN/The CW, 2004-07, 2019) to appealing leads and support in "Frozen" (2013), "Bad Moms" (2016) and on "The Good Place" (NBC, 2016-19). Born Kristen Anne Bell in Huntington Woods, Michigan she was drawn to performing from an early age, and studied singing and tap dancing throughout her elementary school years while also auditioning for and acting in local children's theater productions. By the time she had enrolled in Shrine Catholic High School, Bell had her own agent and was performing with a community theater troupe in Detroit while also appearing in print ads and television commercials for local businesses. After graduation, Bell headed east to study musical theater at New York University, but dropped out after landing the role of Becky Thatcher in a Broadway production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 2001. The following year, she appeared in a Broadway production of "The Crucible" with Liam Neeson before heading to Los Angeles; there, she landed guest roles on various series before headlining "Gracie's Choice" (Lifetime, 2004), a made-for-television feature about a young woman who attempted to gain custody of her siblings from her drug-addicted mother. Critical praise for her performance led to guest and supporting turns in various TV features and David Mamet's "Spartan" (2004), but it was her starring role in "Veronica Mars" that helped to firmly establish Bell as a star on the rise. The UPN series, about a high schooler who aided her detective father in solving cases while also pursuing the person who killed her best friend, was a critical and cult favorite, but fell to low ratings after just three seasons. But the attention afforded to Bell's performance helped her transition to other projects, including "Reefer Madness: The Musical" (2005), a filmed version of the Off-Broadway play based on the cult 1933 film, and a slew of independent films, as well as an English-language remake of the Japanese horror film "Pulse" (2006). She fared better as Elle Bishop, a young woman with the ability to both generate and manipulate electricity, in 12 episodes of NBC's runaway hit "Heroes" (2006-10), and as the titular role, a sharp-tongued woman who drove away clinging fiancée Jason Segel in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008). The twin successes led to starring roles for Bell in "Serious Moonlight" (2009), a comic thriller with Meg Ryan, and several romantic comedies, including "When in Rome" (2010) and "You Again" (2010). She then returned to series television as a member of a ruthless consulting firm on "House of Lies" (Showtime, 2012-2016) while also maintaining a regular presence in films, including the indies "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012) and "Hit and Run" (2012), an homage to '70s car chase films written by, starring and co-directed by her longtime significant other, actor Dax Shepard. However, none of these efforts generated the box office response of "Frozen" (2013), a Disney/Pixar animated feature featuring Bell as the voice of Anna, a plucky Scandinavian girl attempting to aid her sister, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), who possessed the ability to control wind and cold. The Oscar-winning blockbuster helped to add young children and parents to Bell's fanbase, which in turn helped to make Bell an in-demand personality for advertisements and various charities. It also helped to bring a long-standing wish for both her and her fans to fruition: a "Veronica Mars" (2014) feature, which was independently funded through a Kickstarter campaign and released to theaters and direct-to-video. Bell's slate of projects soon filled up with features, including the Melissa McCarthy comedy "The Boss" (2016) and "Bad Moms" (2016), a raunchy romp starring Mila Kunis. She also found time to return to television with "The Good Place," a wry fantasy-comedy about souls trapped in the afterlife that managed to deliver both philosophical discussion and gross-out comedy, often in the same episode. Bell's career continued in full drive in 2017 with roles in "The Disaster Artist" and "CHiPS" with Shepard, as well as the bittersweet Netflix comedy "Like Father" and a voice role in "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies," both in 2018. " Veronica Mars" fans were again rewarded when Bell returned to the role for a limited season reprisal of the series for Hulu in 2019, the same year Bell returned to voice Anna in the much-anticipated "Frozen II."
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