An Interview With Kristen Bell, Voice Of “Anna” In Frozen
Frozen is an epic tale of adventure and comedy from Walt Disney Animation Studios. In the film, fearless optimist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna teams up with a rugged mountain man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to battle the elements in a frantic race to save the kingdom.
With the award-winning film about to be released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD, we chat with actress Kristen Bell to find out her thoughts on the magical movie.
What can you tell us about your character in Frozen?
I play a girl named Anna in the movie, and I’m so proud of this character. There are a lot of my characteristics in Anna, like her feistiness. I love the way she’s able to pick up a shovel, fend off wolves and save the day!
What is Anna’s biggest charm?
I think her charm is caught somewhere between her sincerity and her optimism. It’s really hard to dismiss someone who is genuine and sincere, especially when compounded with optimism. To me, those people are goofy. I think that’s exactly what Anna is like; she’s goofy, charming and fun.
How charismatic is Anna?
To me, eternally optimistic people are the most charismatic people because it’s attractive when someone can’t get you down. Being in a bad mood isn’t very attractive, but Anna is so positive and happy. She starts the movie without any friends, but she still smiles.
Why doesn’t Anna have any friends in the beginning of the story?
Her lifestyle hasn’t allowed her to have a full kingdom or household, which is why she now talks to the paintings and the statues. She runs around the palace and she probably spends too much time in the kitchen bugging the staff because she wants some real friends in her life. To me, that’s what makes her so cute and loveable.
What’s different and unique about Frozen?
Everything is different and unique in this movie! The love story is unique because it’s about siblings and the love of family. A lot of Disney movies are adventures, but I feel like this adventure is even bigger than anything you’ve seen before.
What went through your mind when you discovered you were going to be the voice of a new Disney icon?
I’d always wanted to be part of a Disney animated movie, so I was full of glee when I found out I was going to play Anna. I grew up watching Disney musicals, and I was especially obsessed with The Little Mermaid and Aladdin when I was little. As a young girl, it was always my dream to be a Disney princess – but I wanted to be a very specific Disney princess. I wanted to be one that I wanted to see, which was a princess who was way more awkward than the Disney princesses I’d seen on screen.
Would you describe Anna as awkward?
That’s exactly what Anna’s like! Disney allowed me to mold Anna into the princess I dreamed about as a child, so I feel extremely lucky. You know what? I couldn’t be happier to be part of this amazing project.
What other input did you have into the character?
Another goal of mine was to have a princess without great posture. I never sat up straight when I was little, but the Disney princesses always did that. Thankfully, Anna hasn’t got amazing posture either – just like me.
You mentioned that your favorite childhood Disney movies were The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Is your favorite Disney princess Ariel or Jasmine?
Ariel is my favorite. I really loved Aladdin when I was growing up because I went through a whole tomboy phase, but I think I identified more with Aladdin than I did with Jasmine. Jasmine is great; I’ve got nothing against her – but Ariel is a fantastic princess. She’s awesome.
What were you like when you were growing up?
I was really awkward. I talked to myself a lot and I ate my dinner next to the dog. I was goofy and I was klutzy – and I was way too energetic. I often spoke before I thought, too – and I wanted to see someone like that in a Disney animated movie. I was really lucky that Disney let me add all of these extra, unique attributes to my character.
Did you ever struggle to make friends at school?
If I’m being honest, I didn’t struggle to make friends at school. I always had pretty decent social skills, but I always liked to be alone. I loved that alone time where I could talk to my dogs! I was always very outgoing, but I was a weird type of outgoing person.
Frozen is a fun and frosty fairy tale… Are you a fan of winter?
I’m a huge fan of winter. In fact, I prefer the winter to summer. I’m the only person who lives in California and doesn’t appreciate the warm weather there. I love the cold weather and I’m always trying to get back to the snow instead of a beach.
What’s your favorite winter memory?
I always had dogs when I was growing up, so my favorite winter memories are of dogs running in the snow. That always brings a smile to my face. They always used to make me laugh when they scampered through deep snow!
How good are you at building snowmen?
I’m pretty decent at creating snowmen. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, so I’ll get right in there. I grew up in Detroit, where it’s nice and cold in the winter. That means I’ve had a lot of practice.
What do you think of Olaf, the talking snowman in Frozen?
I love Olaf. He’s always happy and he never gets depressed, which is awesome. Olaf is the guy that everyone wants to carry around in their pocket. He’s hilarious. And his song, In Summer, is one of the best songs in a Disney movie since Under The Sea. It’s an amazing song. Olaf is so, so good!
What was it like to duet with Broadway star Idina Menzel in Frozen?
It was nerve-wracking. Idina is the most intimidating singer, but the most un-intimidating person. She’s so gentle in real life, but there’s a real ferocity behind her voice. She can really sing. I’ve seen her sing on stage numerous times and she’s got one of the best voices on the planet, but I was really, really nervous about the duet.
How did you get over your nerves?
It was very daunting to sing with her, but we used to rehearse at her house where she was so lovely and carefree. I’d sing my verse and she’d say, “You sound great.” Whenever I heard that, I’d get excited and happy. Idina is a wonderful person.
Do you enjoy a little Disney karaoke when you’re not working?
Definitely! A Whole New World is my go-to Disney karaoke song. I’m a duetter. I like to take the stage, but I don’t necessarily like to take the stage alone. A Whole New World is perfect for me because the range is great and it’s a duet. If I had to pick a solo song, it would be Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid. That’s a beautiful song.
How often do you sing?
[Kirsten’s House Of Lies co-star] Don Cheadle and I sing A Whole New World on set almost every week, but we change the words depending on what we’re doing. We sing it back and forth in a scene with the dialogue we’ve been given. It’s a very popular song on the set of House Of Lies!
Your baby daughter, Lincoln, was born in 2013. How does it feel to know she’ll be watching Frozen in a few years?
I feel very nervous about her watching Frozen. What if she doesn’t like it? I would melt if that happened! I hope she likes it as much as I liked Disney movies when I was growing up. However, if she doesn’t, I don’t mind. Maybe she’ll be more into off-roading like her dad? It already feels like she’s showing signs of liking that. I’ll definitely show it to her and hopefully she will be proud of her mom. If she only wants to see it once, I won’t be offended.