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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Interview with Heroes’ Kristen Bell and Tim Kring (Part 1)

Earlier this week, I participated in a conference call with Heroes Kristen Bell, Tim Kring, and journalists from across the world. There were so many journalists waiting to talk with Bell and Kring, we were limited to one question each. But, between all of us, we covered every topic imaginable.

Here’s a rundown of the chat, starting with my question. (By the time I got through in the call, most of the questions asked had been about Heroes, so I went a different route. Please note, this is not a transcript of the entire conference call, only the parts I found the most interesting.)

Jennifer Biller: Hi Kristen. I just wanted to say congratulations on the Heroes role and ask if you have had a chance to catch your former co-star Jason Dohring in the new show Moonlight and if you get to keep in touch with any of your former Veronica Mars cast mates?

Kristen Bell: Hi. We do actually keep in touch a lot. I just came back from breakfast about 20 minutes ago with Ryan Hansen who played Dick Casablancas and (Wakmi Tadeo) who was our DP. We went to breakfast this morning. I had not caught Jason’s show, but I have been TiVoing it. And Tim’s been keeping me pretty busy, so I haven’t caught up on all my TiVo yet. But it’s funny how many people from Veronica Mars are working on Moonlight right now. There’s a substantial (amount) of the crew and Jason, some of the ADs and stuff. And everybody got along really well on (Veronica Mars.) And so we’re all pretty supportive of each other’s careers. And we’ve maintained those friendships.

Bell dishes her new role on Heroes

Q: Do you have any connection to Peter Petrelli and whether or not your character works for the company on the show?

A: Kristen Bell: Well I’ll probably have Tim guide me through this one as well. I have a lot of information about Peter’s past.
Tim Kring: Yeah, we introduced the character and she is looking for Peter Petrelli. And I think one can assume that she finds him.

Q: Kristen, can you tell us a little bit more about your character? I mean is there any other details that you can reveal, her secret origin, her secret power, you know, anything…

A: Kristen Bell: Her name is Elle. I can’t reveal her secret powers. You’ll have to watch next Monday. But it’s a very cool power. She 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. And I think there’s going to be a deeper relationship there than people are expecting. They’re going to see some - maybe some parallels. 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. And Elle is not that way at all. She very much enjoys her power and enjoys the emotional power it gives her over other people.

Tim Kring: Well let me sort of add to that a little bit. The - this - the one thing that we will say is that, you know, we are tying this character’s side to this company that we have, you know, talked about for the last year on the show that Claire’s father was involved with. And so one of the ideas was that this character, Elle’s character is actually raised within the company. And it’s in some ways a cautionary tale of what would happen to any of our characters had they lived with their powers their whole life the way Elle had.

Q: How long can we expect to see you on Heroes? And would you be up for it being more of a long-term commitment or something where you could come back periodically?

A: Oh funny you should ask. I would be up for that. 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. And it’s been a great relationship so far. And so, you know, I’ll be one of the ones that (keeps messages that) gets cross but that I won’t get (killed). Right now I think that 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 I - 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 makes sense for me to continue.

Q: Is there a particular upcoming episode that you’re very excited about that we should watch out for good Elle stuff in?

A: Oh wow, yes. Unfortunately it might be a little bit of a tease because I start in Episode 5, and then I don’t - I’m not in 6 or 7 which I guess is sort of part of the mystery and at least that’s what I’m saying. Episodes 8 and 9 are - have a lot of Elle. They kind of - they expose her storyline. A few of the storylines completely revolve around here. So shooting 8 and 9 was really great for me. I had a lot of stuff in 8 and 9. And so I sort of have to hold out myself to be able to see 8 and 9 and sort of really see how the character reads as far as interacting with all the other storylines.

Q: You’ve spoke of Elle’s moral ambiguity and her mental health status. Can you tell us what some of her strengths will be?

A: Oh wow, determination. And she’s a very fierce and intense personality. When she wants something, she wants it and she wants it now which I think is good when you’re working with the good guys and is really bad when you’re working with the bad guys. And I think that’s what she’ll kind of ping-pong in-between. She has an inability to decipher between right and wrong. That’s what makes her so interesting. She always thinks what she’s doing is right. But it’s because she was raised by the company and not by a normal family that you’ll sympathize with her. I certainly hope you’ll sympathize with her in trying to understand how her childhood really messed her up. And then hopefully, you know, she can get a little bit of redemption.

Q: Would you say this character of Elle will be a character that fans will love or will it become a character that fans will love to hate?

A: I think she’ll go backwards in that area. I think that they will love to hate her initially while they’re confused about her intentions. But I think that the more you find out about her the more - well I mean, I don’t know because I don’t know how it’ll read. I hope that the more you find out about here and the deeper you go into her, the more you’ll sympathize with her.

Q: Has it been fun playing this new mysterious character?

A: Oh it’s been so much fun. I have been, I think crossing my fingers in hopes that I’d get a job soon where I could play someone who was as Tim likes to call it, a little off or perhaps didn’t have the brightest and shiniest of intentions. And I think the depth at which they’ve written Elle, this character, she’s so conflicted and sort of comes across as such as vixen, it’s so much fun to play with.

Q: You’ve obviously said you’ve been a fan of Heroes for quite some time. So just wondering of all the characters on the show, which would you like most to see Elle interact with? And if you could steal one of their powers, which one would it be?

A: I would like to most interact with -- and this is for two different reasons -- for on and off camera reasons -- with Zachary Quinto. Because Zachary Quinto has been a good friend of mine for almost ten years now. And I’ve always wanted to work with him and besides the fact that he’s pretty much the coolest thing because he’s so unpredictable and so downright evil. And it’s almost hard for me to watch because it’s the polar opposite of Zach’s personality because he’s just the kindest, gentlest most giving person. I would love to see him and Elle face off one day. I think that that would be unbelievable. As far as stealing power, I don’t know about stealing anyone’s power. But the one power I would like to come up with -- because that’s the question that the cast, I think, gets most often like ‘what would your super hero power be’ -- I thought long and hard about that.
And I think mine would be multiplicity. Because I think it would be great to be able to multiply myself and cook myself dinner. I’d just be like ‘hey, clean that up’, you know? Because I always feel like if there were more of me, I could get so much more done. I’d be so much more happier.

Kristen talks Lost, geeky guilty pleasures, Gossip Girl, her favorite TV shows and more

Q: It was widely reported that you were offered a recurring role on Lost as well. Why did you decide to be on Heroes instead?

A: Well I think that the facts of the situation are that the media might have gotten a little ahead of themselves because I was not - I had been spoken to about possibly doing a role on Lost, but I was never actually offered one. 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 sort of - this would have been the dreamiest situation I could have possibly thought up as my next job. So when Tim came forward I sort of pounced on it.

Q: What TV shows are you watching right now?

A: 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 with - 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 (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. And I don’t feel guilty about it because it’s an awesome show.

Q: Who is your favorite super hero?

A: Oh wow, my favorite super hero? Man, I like the little Pixie Girls I think because I can relate. I mean it’s great to love like She-Hulk or anything that’s like big and dominating. But for me it would be like a Harley Quinn or like Lost from Avengers -- something like that. Something I can relate to, something that I can feel I can accomplish.

Q: How do you feel now that you’re the voice of the Gossip Girl? How does that work for you?

A: Gossip Girl’s been great. I mean I’ve known Josh Schwartz for a little bit and was sort of happy when they wanted me involved in it. And it’s sort of an easy deal for me because it’s not on camera. And I’ve always dreamt about having a job where I could go and show up in my jammies. And that’s kind of what it is. But, you know, I think I love and support Josh and it’s been a lot of fun. (Kristen said she didn’t think she’ll ever appear on camera as Gossip Girl.)

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 beautiful and brainy what your geeky, guilty pleasures are?

A: Oh wow, my geeky, guilty pleasures? (I bet) my ComiCon would be a geeky, guilty pleasure. I think the geekiest of all my pleasures at ComiCon 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, 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 I have like 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: Can you talk a little bit about working on Fanboys and Forgetting Sarah Marshall in your film career?

A: Oh wow. Two of the best experiences over the last few years of my life. Fanboys because it was a lot of my friends involved in it. And that sort of - it really introduced me to the world of Fanboys which I now love and respect so much. It was a bunch of Star Wars obsessed guys that - and I was the only girl in the movie. And we had so much fun, I kind of can’t wait for it to come out. And plus we get to work with like a lot of people cameoed from Star Wars like Billy Dee Williams. So it was a great experience. And then certainly to be a part of when (Jed Appatow) tells me at this - (really) that this point in his career is kind of a dream come true. And now I’m really happy to call those people my friends. And I hope to be one of the people that they - one of the improv artists they draw upon in the future that can be a part of (unintelligible).

Veronica Mars mentions

Q: You were Veronica Mars for so long, I wonder do you feel - do you really miss her?Do you miss playing her or were you just sort of ready to move on?

A: So badly, so badly. I mean I miss the crew. I miss the writers. I miss actually playing the character because there was a certain ease you get when you - like, you know, when you’ve been at a job for a while and you just feel like it clicks? And you have a character like that that you’ve worked with for so long, there’s a certain part of you that is a little bit her and she’s a little bit you. And it just - it’s not only easy after a while, but it’s really fun.

Q: I’m just wondering if any of your former cast mates from Veronica Mars has prodded you about your new role and how much…

A: Oh my God, every single one of them -- every single one of them. They - we were talking about it this morning because I was having - or breakfast with Ryan Hansen who’s (unintelligible). And he of course has asked me all the questions. And we watched last night and they were all - everybody sort of texted me, was really excited because the editors and (Kim) sort of made it a really big deal at the end of the show that I was coming on. And I was so flattered, so flattered. But our whole crew watched the show. So I get a lot of text. And I kind of like to hold it over their head, I’m not going to lie. And it’s kind of exciting to go like ‘well, why don’t you just watch’. And they’re like oh Kristen.

Q: Soon you’re going to appear before millions of people worldwide and you’re not playing a teen, yeah. Is that relief? And do you hope that your Veronica Mars stance will move along with you, move on with you?

A: Yes, I certainly hope so. I have always played about ten years younger than I am which is a major blessing just even in real life. My family’s very petite and I have a young looking face and good genes I guess. I’m thankful to my parents. That being said, as an actor there are certain things that I’m going through in my own life in my late 20s that, you know, I’m experiencing. And, you know, that’s what you draw upon in your acting. And so I hope that I’ll be accepted as playing closer to my age. I know that I still look a lot younger. But I’m thankful to sort of be out of teenageville a little bit. Because I don’t dislike it at all. I’ve just had my fill of it. I’ve had a lot of it.

Q: Good morning. Kristen, you’re really a fantastic actress. You can pick and choose to work in any platform. What is it about doing television and Heroes in particular that is attractive to you creatively?

A: Oh wow. Well what attracted me to Heroes was the fact that when I caught the season premiere it was just so engulfing it’s like I couldn’t think about anything else. I mean when I’m telling you it was the water cooler conversation, I’m not kidding. Like we would come into Veronica Mars and like the entire camera crew would stand around. It’d be like, ‘yeah, but did you see what happened last night and did you see who Claire’s father is’. Like there are hooks that people are able to sink into you when telling a story that I think Tim has mastered and I think Rob Thomas mastered for the, you know, the much smaller but certainly avid viewers that we had on Veronica Mars. It makes you want to be involved, you know. And I think they’re also really smart shows and they’re a little harder to follow which I really expect. Because when you treat the audience like an intelligent member, they’re - you know, you tend to attract intelligent viewers. The medium’s for me the difference. I mean I certainly love and miss theater. Film is so much fun as well and it’s a little bit more like camp because you’re usually on location and you have a couple months of people that you get really close with and then it’s always sort of like end of the summer syndrome. With TV I really like the security. And I like the sense of family. I mean I like knowing who I work with. I work in this business because I like performing and I also really like the creative relationships. And I think coming to work with people that you love and being able to see them on a daily basis is a really special thing. And not that many people get to absolutely love what they do. And I’m lucky to be one of those people.

Other Heroes info

Q: How did it work out that you’re doing this wonderful show to begin with? Did you reach out to Tim Kring? Did the show reach out to you? And were you a fan of the show even before the opportunity came up?

A: I was a huge fan of the show. I watched it from its premiere episode. And I joked with the writers that Heroes was the water cooler conversation that Veronica Mars on set. And they had said that in many individual writer circles, Veronica Mars is the water cooler conversation now when they were working at Heroes. I think it was - I’ve certainly put feelers out there during ComiCon and let them know what a fan I was of the show I think with the secret hopes that one day I could be a part of it. And then I was just - it was ultimate flattery when they (came forward) and said we might have something for you to do.

Q: I know that Heroes has kind of like this mysterious element and there’s so many hardcore fans that always want to know leaks to the story lines. How do you kind of try to keep quiet about the storylines and then people have had to like come up to you and ask you to leak anything?

A: Yeah, of course. I mean everybody - I mean even amongst the cast, everybody’s always asking everybody else who has more information. And unfortunately going into it, maybe I just had a big old smile on my face or maybe you could just sense it, but I had a substantial amount of information and sort of all the other cast members were trying to (pick) it out of me. But I think I did a pretty good job of just smiling through it and knowing that I was lucky enough to have been told a little bit where my character was going or at least know her first arch. And it’s - you know, it’s hard because when you have secrets, of course you want to spill them. But you have to realize how important it is and how vital it is to keep them secrets and that it keeps your job and that it’s actually kind of fun when you know a little bit more information than everyone else.

Q: Kristen, you know, when I watched the preview yesterday for the new episode I had a weird flashback to when you were on Deadwood. Because when you show up on Deadwood you were this sweet innocent little girl and then we had that great ‘I’ve got a f-ing knife’ scene. And there - I was thinking about how, you know, so many of the fans of Veronica Mars have seen you for three years as, you know, the good guy, the go-getter who’s really fighting for the little guy. And then we’re going to have you as Elle as this new character who’s a lot more sinister. What do you expect a lot of your fans and the Veronica Mars fans, how do you expect them to react when they see this character? Do you interact with them a lot?

A: Well one thing I will say about Veronica Mars fans, they are extremely interactive whether it is on a street corner or whether it is on a blog. They are definitely interactive. I hope everyone will have fun with it. I mean honestly, I’ve been having a blast with it. It’s kind of - it’s a little deeper character work when you have to really figure out someone’s intentions. Because I don’t even think evil characters are evil. They always think they’re doing something right. And it’s to get to that sort of conflicted what’s the difference between right and wrong kind of point which is fun and which is cool to work on as an actor. I mean I hope everybody’s going to have fun with it because I love rooting for the underdog but it’s also - stop. Sorry, speaking of underdog. But it’s also, you know, a lot of fun to play someone who’s a little crazy.

Bell’s comments on the Heroes cast

Q: I wanted to talk a little bit about your relationship with the cast before you joined. I spoke to Hayden recently and she said she’d known you since you were eight years old. Can you talk about that and if that informs the way you and the character of Claire get along?

A: Yeah, I mean I have known Hayden since he was eight. We met in New York. We had the same agent. I was substantially older than she was, but I was just starting college and met her. And she came to some plays that I did in New York. And she was - I mean she was a lovely little girl. And even then you could tell that there was something so alarmingly special about who she was and what she was going to be able to accomplish as a performer. Even at eight years old you could tell. It was right before she was - like Remember the Titans that she was so great in. And I’ve sort of kept up a relationship with her just socially. And having joined the cast now it’s been really nice because I think really good girlfriends are so rare to find in LA. And she’s a really cool honest girl. And so we’ve sort of become closer because of the show. And we always used to joke about trying to play sisters or friends in a project. And so, you know, we might not be either of those in this show, but it’s still fun to get to work together.

Q: Was it difficult or maybe intimidating for you to join a cast that had already been working together since the show’s beginning and kind of had already gelled and kind of had their dynamic? Was that hard to jump into that and be a part of it?

A: Kristen Bell: There was anxiety and nerves certainly, but nothing about it has been hard. They are some of the nicest people I’ve really ever worked with. And having had social relationships with a few of them, I’ve sort of heard through the grapevine what a great job it was, not just an excellent show, but actually really fun to be a part of and an ensemble that really supports each other. And I think that, you know, to find that many good people in one setting is really hard to find. But clearly that speaks to what comes down through the grapevine like starting with Tim. And every time you join a different job or a different show I feel like it kind of feels like you’re changing schools like when you’re in high school. It’s that kind of anxiety, like is everyone going to like me? Is this going to be fun? Am I going to do well? And the warmth that I was greeted with, it felt like I was starting a school that all my friends already went to.
Tim Kring: I’ll - let me just add to that, that, you know, one of the interesting things that should be noted here is that there was a kind of circle of people that - around Kristen and the show Heroes of the - all these common relationships. Kristen had known several of the cast members and some for years and years with real long-term relationships.

3 comments:

weevilswobble said...

Wow. That was long, but a really good read. Thanks so much for posting it.

Missy G said...

Kristen sounds so cool. I loved her choices for super heroes and the fact that she loves America's Funniest Home Videos. You rock, Kristen!!!

Megan said...

I am so excited for Monday's Heroes. I've been "eh" about this show for a long time, but she sounds like fun. I'm in.

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