Kristen Bell Discusses "You Again", Spinning Motown for Inspiration and High Scool
Mon, 20 Sep 2010 16:28:42
For You Again, Kristen Bell takes a hilarious trip back to high school.
As the film's main character Marni, Bell's a hotshot publicist who ventures back home for her brother's wedding, only to discover that big bro is marrying Joanna [Odette Yustman], the girl who made Marni's life a living hell back in school.
Suddenly, a myriad of old grudges, incidents and problems bubble up, making for some genuinely hysterical screwball sequences. Bell plays everything like a pro. She can draw sympathy from the audience as the bullied nerdy teenage Marni, imbuing the bespectacled unconfident character with real emotion. However, she also stirs up some big laughs while trying to exact revenge on Joanna, when they're all grown up. Bell has got the versatility to keep it real, yet she makes the zany moments pop larger than life, and it's a real credit to her as an actress.
That balance arises from an inherent rhythm that Bell has possessed since childhood. She moves through jokes with the grace and elegance of a ballerina, and that's what makes You Again a true comedy gem.
In this exclusive interview, Kristen Bell thrilled to open up to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about that "musical" sensibility in her performance style. She also discussed what Marni would listen to and why You Again is such a diverse comedy.
Don't miss You Again when it hits theaters September 24th from Touchstone Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures!
Is the balance between humor and heart something that pulled you towards You Again?
Absolutely! When I read this movie, I thought it's very rare that you get this many women together, and it's not some sappy love story about a girl staring doe-eyed at the guy in the far cubicle and wishing she had a boyfriend [Laughs]. It's a very real story about a lot of feisty women and a lot of big personalities in the same house. I think the funny stuff is a lot bigger. As a cast, we were always really concerned that there is a message behind this movie. It's about how personalities get along and how everybody can misinterpret mean girls. We've all had those people pass through our lives and how do you deal with that? We were really conscious of making the real stuff very real and not losing it.
Everything feels real, but at the same time the laughs are non-stop.
Right, I think that was the balance we were looking for. If you want something totally real, you can watch reality television. This still keeps you guessing. You want something that's big enough to make you laugh but real enough that you can relate to it, and that's what we were striving for.
There's a pronounced rhythm to your acting, do you ever listen to music to get into character? Were you listening to anything for Marni?
I don't know that I was listening to anything specific, but I do listen to a lot of music. It depends on the day and the character but, when I read a script, I feel like there is a cadence in my head of how it should go. I think that's from studying music at such an early age and going to music school. That's something that was very real you pointed out and no one else ever has [Laughs].
Who's typically on your playlist?
I listen to a lot of Motown because I grew up on Motown. I feel very good when I'm listening to a little Sam Cooke, The Spinners or Aretha Franklin. I also really like Martin Sexton. I like a lot of singer-songwriters. I like Brett Dennen. I like a girl from L.A. named Jackie Tone. She just came out with an album. I like Yeasayer. Pinback's great!
Does You Again remind you of any songs?
"Big Girls Don't Cry" [Laughs]. There's something cheeky about the music that would go to You Again. If I were making the soundtrack, it would be a lot of Motown—"Tell It Like It Is."
I could see Marni listening to Tiësto or some crazy techno while she's working out…
Totally! [Laughs] She could also listen to something super poppy from the late '90s like TLC.
Some kind of slightly empowered girl pop…
Absolutely! Marni is Celine day in and day out! She loves Celine Dion [Laughs].
You Again shows that growing up is a long process. It doesn't stop when you leave high school.
Definitely, I think that's the whole point of the movie. It's about recognizing that you may have had a mean girl but she probably had a mean girl. It's a full circle. When you're growing up, you're endlessly insecure about everything; you read into everything and it's a constant process of being the bigger person and accepting people as they are. First and foremost, it starts with yourself.
Marni's still a little girl in many ways.
Which we all are! That's why people need to lose 20 pounds before their reunion. Two weeks before you found out that your reunion was happening, you didn't feel the need to drop 20! All of a sudden, you know your ten-year reunion is coming up and you need to lose weight. It's the same cycle your brain goes through. You're constantly at a place of wanting to impress the people you wanted to impress when you were 16.
That's why people will gravitate to You Again. Everyone goes through that. I'm a guy and I identified with elements of the film!
That makes me happy to hear that! It's important for us that this wasn't this crazy tampon-pushing film [Laughs]. At the same time, part of the comedy is the fact that there are these women who have these vicious cycles of cat-fighting against each other, and that's funny!
Isn't the point of all art to transcend boundaries and resonate with anybody?
It's so true!
Will you be seeing You Again this Friday?
See what songs remind Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Sigourney Weaver and Andy Fickman of high school here!