They're both adorable and sassy, spirited and ever-cheerful. One is a figment of computer animation and the other is just animated.
This Thanksgiving, Kristen Bell is realizing a dream she says she has had since she first saw The Little Mermaid: She's giving voice to a Disney princess.
In Frozen, Disney's adaptation of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Bell plays Anna, the spirited younger sister of Elsa (voiced by Broadway veteran Idina Menzel), who has unintentionally unleashed everlasting winter on their quaint Scandinavian kingdom.
Once the world has frozen over, it's up to Anna, with help from a snowman named Olaf, a mountain man named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, to save her sister and her kingdom.
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"When we started this project, Anna was not like she is in the movie," Bell says by phone from New York. "The directors, Chris (Buck) and Jennifer (Lee), were really collaborative and heard me when I said I wanted to play someone more like I'd want to see on the screen: awkward, thinks too fast, has her foot in her mouth a lot, is daring, eternally optimistic, too loud and playful and goofy.
"All those things do not add up to your typical Disney heroine. Sometimes in the booth they'd just press record and let me talk to myself. I'd snort here, have my hair in my mouth there, trip over something here."
Bell's goal from the start was to make Anna the odd one out in the Disney princess canon.
"I'm so proud of how she turned out," Bell says. "I didn't want to play a girl with good posture or hands like a ballerina, the way the Disney princesses do. I wanted Anna to be the antithesis of that, and they let her be that. She's got a fighter spirit and you root for her."
You want to root for Bell, 33, as well. Though trained in musical theater at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a veteran of two Broadway shows (the short-lived 2001 musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the 2002 revival of The Crucible with Liam Neeson), Bell got her big break as the title teen sleuth on the TV show Veronica Mars.
She'll revive the character on the big screen next year, but until then, she'll revel in the wonder of a year that brought her a daughter, Lincoln Bell Shepard, born in March, and a wedding to fellow actor Dax Shepard last month.
Although the two had been together since 2007 and were engaged in 2010, they famously said they would not wed until California legalized same-sex marriage. Once Proposition 8 was overturned in June and same-sex marriages resumed, Bell proposed to Shepard on Twitter: "@daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo #marriagequality #loveislove."
"We never intended for any of this to be a big to-do or even a sound bite," Bells says. "At a certain point, though, we realized that if we were able to embrace our ability to be poster children for this issue, we might do some good. I feel like we did some good at least in getting the message out there. We hosted some rallies and worked with the Human Rights Campaign. We're so proud that same-sex marriage is legal again" in California.
Is Bell feeling any pressure now that she's part of the pantheon that includes Snow White, Cinderella and Belle?
"Nah," Bell says. "Feels right."
In addition to helping make Anna "weird," Bell says she's proud that Frozen subverts some usual fairy-tale expectations. The primary love story, for instance, isn't between princess and prince. It's between Anna and Elsa.
"Anna grows up never knowing she was weird," Bell says. "She has innate self- confidence, and the thing she knows in her bones is that she loves her family. Even when her sister falters and gets scared, Anna is steadfast and does everything she can to help. It's such a beautiful notion of how to treat family."
Though most recording for animated features is done solo, Bell did get to sing with Menzel, a Tony Award winner for Wicked.
"When the highlight reel of my life plays in my head, that recording session will be part of it," Bell says. "Her skill set is so off the charts, so next-level as a singer and performer.
"Performing alongside her is intimidating, but as a person, she's so warm and kind. She really offset my nerves."
For Bell, the next order of business will be to see whether Frozen inspires a Disney theme park ride.
"If there aren't any plans, I'm going to instigate them," she says. "All I know is that this ride should be freezing — so cold they'll have to rent you a coat."