Kristen Bell has been front and center in a campaign to get paparazzi to stop stalking children. “The Insider” co-anchor Thea Andrews sat down with the “House of Lies” star Thursday to get the latest on how her fight is going. “I’m thrilled that as loud as I screamed about this, outlets heard and immediately jumped on board immediately to say you’re right, we don’t want to play this dirty game,” she said.
Seven years ago, when the CW announced that the sleuthing teenage enigma known as Veronica Mars would put down her magnifying glass, viewers sprinted to her defense. Zealous fans, nicknamed “marshmallows,” drafted petitions and sent Mars Bars and bags of marshmallows to the studio. No less devoted to the cause were the actors who grew up in the fictional Neptune, CA, the complicated backdrop that powered Kristen Bell’s Veronica. With creator Rob Thomas as their mayor, they appealed to the show’s producers at Warner Bros. to reinstate VM as a series, a movie, anything. “I would do it with puppets,” Bell tells BAZAAR. Thomas left the last episode intentionally unresolved to fuel curiosity. Warner Bros. kept its wallet shut.
It was a sad ending to a series that tackled topics like sexual assault with finesse and created a teenage girl with more pluck than Nancy Drew. Then Thomas found a way to foot the bill: an unprecedented Kickstarter campaign that set out to raise $2 million and broke $5 million with two days to spare. Warner Bros. had agreed to cover additional costs should the fundraiser succeed, and so it was decided: Veronica lives. Picking up nine years after the events of the finale, the movie places modern-day Veronica, Esq., in New York living with boyfriend Piz, when she’s suddenly drawn back to Neptune by news that her high school sweetheart, Logan Echolls, has been charged with murder. Impressively, the film reprises the original cast almost in full, including Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell, Enrico Colantoni, and Percy Daggs III.
The spoiler that fans won’t mind is embedded in the business plan: Don’t expect Thomas to tie up all loose end because he might have a few cliffhangers left in him. Give the cast a cookie, and they’ll rebuild a brand empire, starting with a series of Veronica Mars novels, the first of which publishes next month, and aspirations for more films to come. Just a few weeks before the movie’s March 14 release, Bell—now married to actor Dax Shepard and mother to one-year-old Lincoln—tells BAZAAR about her breakout character’s second coming.
Harper’s BAZAAR: Almost the entire original cast returns for the movie. Who do you think has changed most drastically?
Kristen Bell: Wow, maybe the biggest surprise will be what a stud Percy Daggs has turned out to be. I always knew him as Percy, but for the fans who only knew him as Wallace, he was a little smaller, he was younger, he played the best friend. Now, he is very much a leading man. He is gorgeous and has an air of confidence that, when we were kids, I don’t think translated.
HB: I know you’re hoping for a sequel in Veronica’s future. Can you see it coming back as a series too?
KB: I could see it coming back as just about anything. I would do it with puppets if we could.
HB: You did get some puppet experience, or at least Rob Thomas did, in the hilarious Kickstarter video you made together.
KB: This is true. And fun fact: he’s wearing articles of clothing from the ski box in my garage—long johns and Dax’s under-helmet snowboard mask thing. The puppet frame he was working in, those 2x4s were made by my handsome husband.
HB: That’s true love.
KB: I said, “Honey, you know we’re still trying to do the movie, right?” And he said, “Of course.” I said, “Can you please go to Home Depot and build me a puppet booth?” And he didn’t question it, he just went. And he said, “How’s this?” I said, “Great.” This is all the weekend before [we filmed the video]. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, and I got a piece of red velvet, and we manufactured that. Dax and I were set tech.
HB: Other than during production, has the cast hung out since the show’s end?
KB: Often. Ryan Hansen and his family were over last night. His wife and I made dinner in the kitchen and had a dance party with our children—Dax and I are the godparents to his children. Jason and I are also very close. Percy lives a little further away, but we all communicate via email. And many of us have had kids, so we’ve created this mini-me cast of “Veronica Mars” that poops their pants.
HB: As part of the Kickstarter campaign, you offered prizes to backers who laid down serious cash, like cast-recorded voicemail greetings and a walk-on part in the movie. What were the nuttiest requests and cameos?
KB: Number one: The guy who invested $10,000. I don’t think that dollar amount affects him very much; he invented online banking or something spectacular. His name was Steve. He came to the set and introduced himself as 10K. Just like that. “Hi I’m Steve. 10K.” He said he’s always been a fan of the series, and he spends the money he makes. He got a walk-on role, he was beyond lovely, and he poked fun at the fact that he spent so much money for this—and he called himself 10K! Which is obviously the nickname we still call him. Some of the videos I recorded were very creative and funny, where I was acting as though I was someone’s scorned lover, saying, “Come on, call me baby.” And there were a couple for scavenger hunts that ended in marriage proposals.
HB: One thing that impressed me when I first watched “Veronica Mars,” was the brazenness and sophistication with which it approached subjects like rape and sexual assault. Does the movie touch on similarly sensitive matters?
KB: Yeah. The show was written as a bit of a reality check for teenagers, and the movie does fall in line with that. The movie is about a murder, but it’s also about the hierarchy of a class system, it’s about race wars, it’s about drugs, it’s about voyeurism. And of course it’s all veiled in this love story and solving of the plotline, but Rob doesn’t write safely.
HB: Why do you think that worked so well on VM?
KB: One of the reasons is that you’re inside her brain. You get to know what she’s going through. You learn directly from the source about her vulnerabilities, her insecurities, her anger, and ultimately what she would say is her revenge. And you would have to begin with the narrative from the female that was abused, in my opinion, if you are to tell a story that would resonate similarly. The protagonist has to be the one going through it. You know, they often say writers create their alter egos as the protagonist, and somehow Rob Thomas’s alter ego was a 16-year-old, female underdog.
HB: The movie was shot in just 23 days. How did that affect production?
KB: There was a lot of caffeine. It meant everybody had to know we’d be working weird hours and everybody would be outside the parameters of their job description. They had a kind of guerilla style to them. My reality was I was breast-feeding a three-month-old while working 15 hours a day. So I was in hair and makeup with a breast pump on. I was in rehearsal with a breast pump on. They were yelling cut, and I was putting my breast pump on.
HB: What was your favorite scene to work on?
KB: There’s a scene between me and Jason Dohring that we shot at what’s referred to in the film industry as magic hour. It’s right when the sun is setting [or rising]. There’s no overhead sun, and it creates an extremely aesthetically pleasing shot. The world is glowing between Logan and Veronica—they’re almost in complete silhouette—and it’s very emotionally charged.
HB: Is there a running cast joke that Rico Colantoni’s never broken character as Keith Mars? It showed up in both the Kickstarter video and the EW cover shoot video you filmed.
KB: That was actually a brainstorm for the Kickstarter video. I think that was one of Dax’s ideas. He said, “You know what would be beautiful? Is to have you never having given up the case.” They’re all still at my house. It’s not necessarily something we feel on a regular basis, but that’s sort of become his role.
HB: Having played Veronica for so long, do you ever feel like you’ve never broken character? Like you’re Kristen playing Veronica playing Jeannie on “House of Lies?”
KB: Such a good question. I don’t think so, but Kristen has sometimes felt she was Veronica—if I’m reminding someone not to put their purse on the floor in the bathroom, or looking at an open trash can thinking, “Someone could go through that trash and find out a lot.” And because Veronica is able and willing to say the sassiest thing in the moment, sometimes as Kristen I have the desire to do so. I have to edit myself sometimes.
HB: Speaking of which, just from chatting, I can tell that you’re very intentional in your speech, and you think editorially. Has that always been the case?
KB: I know exactly where it comes from. My father’s a news director, and he’s been a journalist for years, so I know the value of a sound bite. I try to keep that in mind and not ramble, which is very difficult for me because I’m such an oral communicator. I can’t write to save my life, but I will keep you on this phone for two hours.
Next month, Kristen Bell will reprise the role that put her on the map in Veronica Mars, the Kickstarter-subsidized movie sequel to the beloved TV series that was canceled in 2007 after three seasons. These are the movies, performers, and cuisines that made her.
“This American Life”
Ira Glass proves that you don’t have to unroll the most salacious details immediately—as so much modern journalism does—or beg for your audience to listen. You can slowly captivate them.
The Big Lebowski
It’s one of [Veronica Mars creator] Rob Thomas’s and my favorite movies, and that’s why there were so many references on the show. It’s a practically perfect comedy.
The hours on this production were grueling, and without caffeine, I’m a useless hunk of lunch meat. Green tea is a necessity! Pretty much any type. I buy it in bulk from Costco—favorite store on the planet. I don’t drink, I don’t have any other vices, so I allow myself this one.
Motorcycle boots and corduroy jackets
Just always makes me think of Veronica. She was normally in a pair of Frye motorcycle boots and a Gap corduroy jacket, which was her uniform for a lot of the series.
One of the most talented character actresses ever. I’d watch her do anything. I’d watch her take a nap.
Game of Thrones
I’m Jon Snow all the way, ready to save the world from White Walkers. On Halloween, I went as Khaleesi and Dax [Shepard], my husband, went as Khal Drogo. We have two dogs and a baby, and they were all dragons.
Waiting for Guffman
The best comedy ever made. Nothing is funnier to me than when actors talk about themselves. There are many times that I’m talking with another actor about the industry, and all I’m picturing is Corky St. Clair: “Fresh off a destroyer with a dance belt and a tube of Chapstick.”
That sketch show he used to have—The Show Formerly Known As the Martin Short Show—had some of the funniest moments I can remember. Specifically, there was this sketch called Models Amalgamated [a parody of Models Inc.], like a reality show of a house of models. He played a model and acted like an idiot.
If I’m not eating well, I’m not interested in work or anything else. Some of my best breakthroughs take place over a meal. Not to be too cliché, but I really like California food. I love the kale smoothie of it all, where everything is fresh, everything is out of the garden, everything grows here. In my backyard, I have a fig tree, a lemon tree, a tangerine tree, a plum tree, an apple tree, and an apricot tree.
A fabulous thriller and a classic example of film noir that set the bar high for everything else to follow in the genre, including Veronica Mars. And Barbara Stanwyck is one of my idols.
They were our partners in making the movie. It wouldn’t have happened without them.
She knows how to ride that line between kind and sassy. I first saw her at UCB in New York, and I thought, That’s who I want to be. That’s what I want
to do. She was tiny and blonde but dominated when she needed to. When she got the part on Saturday Night Live, I was personally invested in her, and I thought, We did it! We did it!
The photo gallery at Kristen Bell Online has been updated with 313 high definition screen captures from episode 3×08 of “House of Lies”!
• Kristen Bell Online > Television Series > House of Lies > Season 3 > Screen Captures > 3×08 – Brinkmanship
On television, Veronica Mars was a gritty teenage private investigator who wasn’t afraid to break down doors. Now a movie version of the show is about to do the same thing.
“Veronica Mars” will be released by Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. in about 270 theaters on March 14, the same day that it is available to buy or rent online. It will mark the first time one of Hollywood’s six major studios has distributed a movie in theaters and for home viewing at the same time in the U.S.
For decades, a sacrosanct “theatrical window” protected big-screen releases from the competition of DVD sales, rentals or other distribution platforms. Under intense pressure from the largest cinema chains, which argue that such competition would take business away from them, studios usually put at least three months between theatrical and DVD or video-on-demand releases.
In the past few years, independent studios and theaters have begun to chip away at the theatrical window with simultaneous releases—but only for low-profile movies and usually on a small number of screens.
For “Veronica Mars,” which originated with a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, Warner Bros. has found an unusual workaround. The studio is paying AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the nation’s second-largest chain, to rent 260 screens across the country (the other 10 playing the film are independently owned).
Because Warner is renting the theaters, AMC doesn’t consider it to be a violation of its standard 90-day window policy. Typically theater operators and studios split revenue from ticket sales. For “Veronica Mars,” AMC will sell the tickets as usual, but Warner will pocket the box office sales.
“On projects like this where we know we have a partner with the resources to promote the film and an easily targetable audience, we will rent theaters out,” said Nikkole Denson-Randolph, AMC’s vice president of special and alternative content. The duration of the rentals will depend on how well the movie initially does, she said.
AMC has never rented out so many theaters for a single movie before, Ms. Denson-Randolph said. The most successful simultaneous releases in the past, such as “Arbitrage” starring Richard Gere, played primarily in independently owned theaters. Those theaters don’t always adhere to traditional release windows and typically have smaller audiences.
AMC’s major competitors, including Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc., don’t rent out theaters to movies that will be released at home within fewer than 90 days, said people in the industry.
It usually costs between $5,000 and $20,000 a week to “four wall” a single screen, as renting one out is known in the movie business, according to a knowledgeable person. Executives at AMC and Warner declined to discuss financial details of their agreement.
For Warner Bros., which is known for bigger budget event films like “The Lego Movie” and “Man of Steel,” “Veronica Mars” represents an experiment, not a harbinger of broader changes to its business.
Although the “Veronica Mars” series was canceled by the CW Network—co-owned by Warner and CBS Corp. in 2007 because it drew only about 2.8 million viewers a week, its fan base has remained loyal and long demanded resolutions to plotlines left dangling. Show creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell pushed the movie idea last year and convinced Warner, which produced the show, to release it if they met a Kickstarter goal of $2 million.
The effort ended up raising $5.7 million from more than 91,000 people. Actors from the TV series including Percy Daggs II, Jason Dohring and Enrico Colantoni agreed to appear.
“The existence of Kickstarter and the emergence of the social Internet make something like this possible,” said Thomas Gewecke, Warner’s chief digital officer. “The economics work.”
Because the passions for “Veronica Mars” run deep, executives at Warner and AMC said they are confident fans will go to theaters with friends and buy or rent a copy to watch again at home. Home pricing is set by cable and satellite providers, but on-demand rentals generally cost about $5 and digital purchases are between $15 and $20.
Some funds from the Kickstarter fundraising are being used for T-shirts, posters and other rewards promised to fans who donated money. The studio funded the rest of the movie, which ended up costing a little over $6 million in total.
Advertising is being done entirely online and in AMC theaters, with no traditional television spots or billboards. Given the movie’s modest budget, Warner says it is counting only on the existing “Veronica Mars” fan base to attend.
“They can make it successful for us,” said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of distribution for Warner. “If we extend beyond that, it’ll be gravy.”
Mr. Gewecke said Warner has looked at other properties from its television and film library to see if they could qualify for the same treatment of a low-budget movie that can be released simultaneously in theaters and online. “The passion of the fan base and the very strong connection to Rob and Kristen online are the essential ingredients,” said Mr. Gewecke.
You can watch Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard being interviewed for “Entertainment Tonight” below!
ET is joining forces with Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell and her husband Parenthood actor Dax Shepard in their fight against paparazzi taking pictures of celebrities’ children without consent. ET has agreed to not air these photos or videos.
Since the birth of their daughter, Bell and Shepard have been vocal on this topic and decline interviews with media outlets known to purchase images from the paparazzi. Both actors have passionately campaigned, especially through their personal social media platforms, to motivate others and bring more attention to this cause. Media outlets using images celebrities post on their own social media platforms or of children attending red carpets and media events are not the issue.
By joining forces, ET and the couple hope that additional press outlets will follow their lead. ET’s sister show, The Insider independently adapted the “no kids” policy after meeting with Bell.
Bell states, “The support of ET, the most influential national entertainment newsmagazine, is invaluable in the fight against paparazzi taking photos of the children of celebrities without consent. By creating a greatly diminished demand for these images, it is my hope that these children will no longer be subjected to being followed, yelled at, taunted and having their privacy invaded on a daily basis. Hopefully, these children can return to their routines without having cameras relentlessly pointed at them. I am so grateful to Entertainment Tonight for helping us pave the way on this issue and hope we can count on other media outlets to adopt the same policy.”
“We are proud to support Kristen Bell and other celebrities in their efforts to protect their children from intrusive paparazzi,” said ET Executive Producers Linda Bell Blue, DJ Petroro and Co-Executive Producer Linda Fuller. “It is our sincere hope that having ET take a leadership position on this issue sends a clear message to the photographers taking these unwanted shots, that this behavior will not be tolerated or supported.”
In September 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill aimed at keeping paparazzi away from the children of celebrities after emotional testimony to California lawmakers by actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner. Other Hollywood actors supporting the cause include Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Amy Poehler, Orlando Bloom, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Busy Philipps, Nia Vardalos, Ian Gomez, Amy Adams, Michelle Williams, Jason Bateman, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Duff, Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Sophia Bush.
ET will have the first interview with Bell and Shepard discussing this topic tomorrow evening, February 21.