LOS ANGELES — Like most young starlets toiling away on new television shows, Kristen Bell only averages about five hours of sleep a night, but she feels pretty energetic. “Last night, we only worked 15 hours,” she says. “And believe me, the difference between 14 and 18 hours is a world of grumpiness.”
As the star of UPN’s “Veronica Mars,” one of the critics’ new fall favorites, 24-year-old Bell, who plays the title character, has her stump speech down pat. “The show crosses over a lot of boundaries. There is a lot of entertainment value and drama, but it’s also grounded in reality.” Well, perhaps playing a high school student-private eye isn’t so realistic, but other parts of the show tackle the darker side of adolescence: Veronica lost her mother at a young age, was a victim of date rape, went from popular girl to outcast and has a boyfriend who stops taking his antidepressants.
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“I don’t mind the comparisons to shows like ‘Buffy’ and ‘Dark Angel’ so much, because I hope that we’ll be that successful one day, but we’re not fighting the supernatural or anything,” says Bell, calling from the set in San Diego.
Veronica does, however, wear her share of black leather, along with combat boots and lots of hardware. “She uses her wardrobe as a shield to make her feel tough and not so vulnerable,” Bell explains.
While Bell may be a new face on the airwaves, she’s not a stranger to the New York stage. A 2001 graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bell began her career on Broadway in the musical “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in 2001 and the following year starred in “The Crucible” with Laura Linney and Liam Neeson. With momentum going in New York, Bell says she “took a gamble” in coming to Hollywood two years ago without a job. “But I thought that I could have my choice of theater roles if people knew me from television and film,” she explains.
Turns out it was the other way around — her first job was shooting “Reefer Madness” for Showtime, based on the off-Broadway musical she starred in. Next up was the Los Angeles Opera’s production of “A Little Night Music.” She began work on “Veronica Mars” while finishing the musical, then squeezed in the 2005 indie “50 Pills” on the weekends.
She also recently attended her first Emmy Awards show, which she says was a hoot “because no one knew who I was.” She borrowed an acid green Nicole Miller gown and 11-carat diamond for the occasion, which she Scotch-taped to her finger, but Bell says she’s more of a jeans girl. “When I go out I like vintage blouses with pearls or brooches,” she adds. “My favorite thing is finding vintage high heels.”
But current schedules don’t allow her much time to shop. She shuttles back and forth between San Diego and her home in Los Angeles, which she shares with her boyfriend, a swim coach and freelance writer, and her dog, Lola.
Says Bell: “I’m looking forward to the calm after the storm.”
— Marcy Medina
STAR PICKS: KRISTEN BELL
LAST FILM: “Open Water.”
LAST CD: The new Scissor Sisters.
LAST DVD: The documentary “American Movie.”
LAST BOOK: “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris.
LAST WEB SITE: I am a big fan of the Red Wings, so I regularly check the NHL Web site to see about the hockey strike.
LAST TIME YOU WENT TO THE GYM: I don’t go to the gym, I do Bikram Yoga instead.
LAST THING YOU ATE: Oatmeal for breakfast.
LOS ANGELES — According to Jessica Paré, The WB isn’t the intellectual wasteland most people think it is. Take her show “Jack and Bobby,” for instance. Yes, it’s full of attractive young people and romantic angst, but it’s also an intelligent, affecting drama about the lives two brothers lead years before one of them becomes president.
“There’s no need to talk down to viewers. We can use big words now, and it’s OK,” says the 23-year-old Canadian actress, who plays Courtney Benedict, the love interest of older brother Jack McAllister, played by Matt Long, and future First Lady to his younger brother, Bobby (Logan Lerman). “Courtney has matured a lot faster than other girls her age and she’s kind of above the whole high school thing,” she says. “She’s very smart and makes no bones about it.”
Paré also differs from most young actresses in that the context of her show has made her somewhat political.
“I’m not American but I can’t help but be aware of the election, and it seems there’s not a lot of hope left in American politics,” she says. “But I do think our show deals with the whole idea of the American Dream for people growing up today. You see this normal kid who eventually becomes president, and it gives a message of hope.”
The actress has been busy embracing life since moving to Los Angeles three months ago from Montreal, where she’d been acting for six years. She got her big break playing a fashion model in “Stardom,” a little-seen mockumentary by Denys Arcand, the Canadian director of last year’s “The Barbarian Invasions.” Aside from a fleeting role as Josh Hartnett’s fiancée in “Wicker Park,” she’ll appear in next year’s “See This Movie,” an indie comedy about a group of actors trying to make a film on the fly. It received the Grand Jury Prize at the Malibu Film Festival. She’s also learning how to drive and making new friends.
“I have, like, five friends now, which is exciting, though three of them are from Montreal,” she laughs. Paré says she misses the neighborhood feel of her hometown, as well as its creative fashion. “What would be considered a faux pas here is acceptable there, where people all have a more funky style.”
But Paré isn’t one to look back. She left Montreal College after just two weeks. “I got a part and it was like, ‘See you later!’ College is something I’d love to do but this whole career thing is going pretty well right now.”— M.M.?
STAR PICKS: JESSICA PARE
LAST FILM: “Shaun of the Dead.” Sooo good — don’t miss it!
LAST CD: Sam Roberts, “We Were Born in a Flame.”
LAST DVD: Gosh, it’s been awhile. “Loves of a Blonde,” I think.
LAST BOOK: “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler. Great read for a new Angeleno.
LAST WEB SITE: Recipezaar.com for Canadian Thanksgiving recipes. I’m hosting a dinner for my Canadian friends.
LAST TIME YOU WENT TO THE GYM: Yesterday. I’m a little in love with my trainer, Pete. It helps.
LAST THING YOU ATE: One of Keri-Lynn Pratt’s chocolate chip cookies. (Sigh! Don’t tell Pete.)