Kristen Anne Bell (born July 18, 1980) is an American actress and producer. She began her professional acting career by starring in stage productions while attending the Tisch School of the Arts
at New York University
. In 2001, she made her Broadway
stage debut as Becky Thatcher
in the comedy musical ''The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
'' and appeared in a Broadway revival of ''The Crucible
'' the following year. In 2004, she appeared in the action thriller film ''Spartan
'' and received critical praise for her performance in the television drama film ''Gracie's Choice
Bell garnered critical acclaim for her first major role as the title character
in the teen noir
drama television series ''Veronica Mars
'' (2004–2007). For her performance, she was awarded a Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
. She reprised the eponym
ous role in the 2014 film continuation
and the 2019 revival series
. During her time on ''Veronica Mars'', Bell starred as Mary Lane in the musical film ''Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
'' (2005), a reprise of the role she had played in the New York musical upon which the film was based
. From 2007 to 2008, Bell starred as Elle Bishop
in the science fiction
drama series ''Heroes
''. From 2007 to 2012, she voiced the titular narrator in the teen drama series ''Gossip Girl
In 2008, she had her breakout film role as the title character in ''Forgetting Sarah Marshall
''. She has since appeared in a number of comedy films, including ''Couples Retreat
'' (2009), ''When in Rome
'' (2010), ''You Again
'' (2010), ''The Boss
'' (2016), ''Bad Moms
'' (2016), and ''A Bad Moms Christmas
'' (2017). Bell garnered further recognition for voicing Princess Anna
in the Disney animated fantasy films ''Frozen
'' (2013), ''Ralph Breaks the Internet
'' (2018), and ''Frozen II
'' (2019), and the short films ''Frozen Fever
'' (2015) and ''Olaf's Frozen Adventure
From 2012 to 2016, Bell starred as Jeannie van der Hooven, the female lead on the Showtime
comedy series ''House of Lies
''. From 2016 to 2020, she starred in the lead role of Eleanor Shellstrop on the acclaimed NBC
comedy series ''The Good Place
'', for which she received a Golden Globe Award
nomination for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Bell has a soprano vocal range.
Early life and family
Bell was born on July 18, 1980, in Huntington Woods, Michigan
, a suburb of Detroit
, where she was raised. Her mother, Lorelei (''née'' Frygier), is a registered nurse
, and her father, Tom Bell, works as a television news
director in Las Vegas
Her parents divorced when she was two years old, and she has two stepsisters from her father's second marriage. She also has two half-sisters and two half-brothers from her mother's second marriage. Her mother is of Polish
descent, and her father has German
Bell stated that she did not like her first name at the age of four. Bell's mother convinced her to go by her middle name, Anne, instead; she used the name Annie until high school.
Bell once broke both her wrists at the same time playing street hockey
Just before her freshman year of high school, Bell's parents decided to remove her from the public school
She attended Shrine Catholic High School
in nearby Royal Oak
, where she took part in the drama and music club. Before attending Shrine, she attended Norup School (now known as Norup International School) a part of the Berkley School District
. During her time at the school, she won the starring role in the school's 1997 production of ''The Wizard of Oz
'', as Dorothy Gale
, and also appeared in productions of ''Fiddler on the Roof
'' (1995), ''Lady, Be Good
'' (1996), and ''Li'l Abner
'' (1998). In 1998, the year she graduated, Bell was named the yearbook's "Best Looking Girl" by senior class vote.
Shortly after her high school graduation, Bell moved to New York City to attend New York University
's Tisch School of the Arts
majoring in musical theater. In 2001, during her senior year, Bell left a few credits shy of graduating
to take a role in the Broadway musical version of ''The Adventures of Tom Sawyer''.
1992–2003: Early work
In 1992, Bell went to her first audition and won a dual role as a banana and a tree
in a suburban Detroit theater's production of ''Raggedy Ann and Andy
Her mother had established her with an agent before Bell was 13, which allowed her to appear in newspaper advertisements for several Detroit retailers and television commercials. She also began private acting lessons.
In 1998, she appeared with an uncredited role in the locally filmed movie ''Polish Wedding
In 2001, Bell left New York University to play a role as Becky Thatcher
in the short-lived Broadway musical of ''The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
''. That same year, she made her credited film debut in ''Pootie Tang
''. Her one line in the film was cut, and her appearance exists only as a scene shown during the credit sequence.
Additionally, she auditioned for the television series ''Smallville
'' for the role of Chloe Sullivan
, which was eventually won by Allison Mack
In 2002, she appeared in the Broadway revival of ''The Crucible
'' with Liam Neeson
, Angela Bettis
and Laura Linney
. Bell then moved to Los Angeles in 2002 because of her friendship with writers Kevin Murphy
and Dan Studney,
and appeared in a handful of television shows as a special guest, finding trouble gaining a recurring role in a television series. Bell said she "tested like eight times and booked nothing and every show he
tested for got picked up", including auditions for ''Skin
'' and a Norm Macdonald
2004–2006: ''Veronica Mars'' and other roles
In 2004, Bell earned acclaim for her starring role in the Lifetime
television film ''Gracie's Choice
'', which received one of the network's highest ratings.
She made her debut in a theatrically released film with David Mamet
's action thriller ''Spartan
'', as Laura Newton, the kidnapped daughter of the U.S. president, acting alongside Val Kilmer
. Bell also guest-starred on the HBO
period drama series ''Deadwood
'', in a two-episode story arc ("Bullock Returns to the Camp
" and "Suffer the Little Children
At 24, she won the role of the title character in the UPN
noir drama series ''Veronica Mars
'', which was launched in the fall of 2004. Created by Rob Thomas
, the series starred Bell as the seventeen-year-old anti-establishment high school student and private detective. Bell drew on the parallels between the character of Veronica and her own life, since Bell's parents had divorced and her best friend had also died.
The series earned acclaim from critics. Bell's performance earned her the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
and a nomination for the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama
, among numerous others. Some critics asserted that her performance was overlooked, and deserved consideration for a Primetime Emmy Award
Aside from working on ''Veronica Mars'', Bell starred in ''Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
'', reprising the role she played in the short-lived 2001 Off-Broadway
musical. The musical was a spoof of the 1936 exploitation film of the same name
. ''Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical'' debuted on the Showtime
network on April 16, 2005. Also in April, Bell starred as Gracie in ''Fifty Pills
'', an entry for the Tribeca Film Festival
. She appeared in a short independent film called ''The Receipt'' and the horror film ''Roman'', which was directed by her ''Crucible'' co-star Angela Bettis. Released on August 11, 2006, ''Pulse
'' starred Bell as the lead Mattie. A remake of the Japanese horror film ''Kairo
'', the film grossed US$27.9 million worldwide but garnered negative response from critics. Frank Scheck of ''The Hollywood Reporter
'' commented, "despite the starring presence of Kristen Bell, he
young actress has far less interesting material to work with here than she does as he character
2007–2011: Film breakthrough and ''Gossip Girl''
''Veronica Mars'' continued on UPN for a second season; for the third season, the show was renewed and appeared on the newly created The CW
. On January 19, 2007, CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff
announced that while she was pleased with the gradual improvement of ''Veronica Mars's'' ratings, the series would be put on hiatus after February sweeps to air a new reality series, ''Pussycat Dolls Present
''. On May 17, 2007, Ostroff announced the cancellation of the series.
A two-hour series finale aired in the United States on May 22, 2007, and on June 11, 2007, Thomas officially announced in an email to ''TV Guide
's'' Michael Ausiello that ''Veronica Mars'' had been canceled by the CW. A ''Veronica Mars'' feature film and comic book series continuation had been discussed, and for a short time there was talk of another collaboration between Bell and creator Thomas that would be unrelated to the ''Veronica Mars'' series.
Following the cancellation of ''Veronica Mars'', Bell voiced interest in appearing on ''Heroes'' because she was a fan.
On July 29, 2007, during a train ride back to Los Angeles from the San Diego Comic-Con
with ''Heroes'' actors Zachary Quinto
and Masi Oka
, and writers from the series, the writers had mentioned that if she "ever wantd
to come on ''Heroes'', give us riters
a call," to which Bell said she would "love to."
Meanwhile, there were discussions about a role on ''Lost
'', but Bell turned down the role
[Jensen, Jeff, Lindelof, Damon & Cuse, Carlton,]
'Lost' producers – 5
", ''Entertainment Weekly''. Retrieved April 11, 2009.
of Charlotte Staples Lewis
. Bell portrayed Elle Bishop
on ''Heroes'', a "mysterious young lady" with an "awesome power".
She did not have to audition for the role of Elle,
who made her first appearance in an October 2007 episode, and appeared in twelve episodes during the run of the series.
The casting of Bell, ''Heroes'' creator Tim Kring
explained, "was not easy to pull off", but because of the large ensemble cast of the series and multiple story arc
s, "we found a way to jump into a small window in ell's
Bell lent her voice to the CW series ''Gossip Girl
'': she voiced the title character in every episode of the series, appearing in person only for a surprise cameo in the final episode, portraying herself.
Shortly after the cancellation of ''Veronica Mars'' in early 2007, Bell filmed on location in Hawaii
for a starring role as the title character in the Judd Apatow
comedy ''Forgetting Sarah Marshall
''. She regarded the improvisational comedy
in the film as "a lovely experience".
The film, written by and also starring Jason Segel
, was released theatrically on April 18, 2008, and greatly increased Bell's profile. Bell lent her voice and likeness to the video game ''Assassin's Creed
'', which was released on November 13, 2007, for the PlayStation 3
and Xbox 360
and April 8, 2008, for the PC
. Bell reprised her role of Lucy in ''Assassin's Creed II
'' released on November 17, 2009, and again in ''Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
'', released on November 16, 2010. In the spring of 2006, she finished filming the ''Star Wars
''-themed comedy ''Fanboys
''. Director Kyle Newman
received additional funding to shoot new scenes, but the busy schedules of the actors only allowed for filming in September 2007. As a result, the release was delayed until January 14, 2008. Bell also starred in the 2009 comedies ''Serious Moonlight
'', alongside Meg Ryan
, and ''Couples Retreat
'', which chronicles four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort. Jason Bateman
played her husband. She also provided the voice for Cora in ''Astro Boy
''. On March 31, 2008, Bell began shooting the Mark Steven Johnson
film ''When in Rome
'' on location in Rome and New York; the film was released in 2010. Bell reprised her role as Sarah Marshall for a cameo appearance in the film ''Get Him to the Greek
'', a spin-off sequel
from ''Forgetting Sarah Marshall'', released June 4, 2010.
Bell co-starred alongside singers Christina Aguilera
in the backstage musical film ''Burlesque
'', which was released in November 2010. She also had a cameo appearance alongside Anna Paquin
in the slasher horror film ''Scream 4
'', which was released on April 15, 2011.
2012–present: ''Frozen'' and ''The Good Place''
In 2012, Bell starred in the family drama film ''Big Miracle
''. She has also appeared in the music video for "Madder Red" by Brooklyn experimental rock
. Bell portrayed Mary Magdalene
in ''The Truth & Life Dramatized Audio New Testament Bible'', a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, dramatized audio adaptation of the New Testament
that uses the RSV-CE
Bell starred as Jeannie van der Hooven, the female lead on the Showtime
comedy series ''House of Lies
'', which premiered on January 8, 2012. The series ended on June 12, 2016. Bell appeared in a supporting role in the science-fiction comedy ''Safety Not Guaranteed
'' (2012). She starred in the drama film ''The Lifeguard
'', written and directed by Liz W. Garcia
, which began filming in July 2012 and was released in August 2013. She also voiced Anna in ''Frozen
'', which was released on November 22, 2013. In 2013, for multiple episodes, Bell played Ingrid de Forest, an Eagleton City Councilwoman, on ''Parks and Recreation
On March 13, 2013, it was confirmed that a ''Veronica Mars
'' film would finally be coming to fruition. Bell and series creator Rob Thomas
launched a fundraising campaign to produce the film through Kickstarter
and attained the $2 million goal in less than ten hours. The main cast members of the series all reprised their roles in the feature film. Production of the film took place during summer 2013, and it was released theatrically and on video-on-demand on March 14, 2014.
In September 2014, Bell starred with her husband, Dax Shepard
, in a commercial for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S
. It was so popular (with over 20 million YouTube
views) that they did another for the holiday season. The ad agency McKinney
was behind both. In 2016, Bell voiced the sloth
Priscilla in the animated comedy film ''Zootopia
'', and starred as Claire in the comedy film ''The Boss
''. Bell starred as Kiki in the 2016 comedy film ''Bad Moms
'', a role she reprised in the 2017 sequel, ''A Bad Moms Christmas
''. In 2016, Bell began starring as Eleanor Shellstrop in the NBC
comedy series ''The Good Place
''. For her performance, she received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
, the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy
, and the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series
, among numerous others.
Also in 2017, she appeared in the biographical comedy-drama ''The Disaster Artist
'', the action comedy ''CHiPs
'' and the comedy ''How to Be a Latin Lover
''. In November 2017, she played a housewife (with Dax Shepard as her husband) preparing for a Christmas party in Sia
's music video for "Santa's Coming For Us
In 2018, she began hosting the web series ''Momsplaining with Kristen Bell'', with episodes airing on the Ellen DeGeneres
video platform Ellentube. In the series, Bell gives new and expecting mothers tips about motherhood. The title of the series is a pun on the commonly used term "mansplaining
Bell later had the leading role in the Netflix
comedy-drama film ''Like Father
''. She also voiced the character of Jade Wilson in the animated comedy film ''Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
'' and reprised her voice role as Princess Anna in the animated comedy sequel film ''Ralph Breaks the Internet
On September 20, 2018, Hulu
confirmed that Bell would reprise her role of Veronica Mars in an 8-episode fourth season
of the drama series ''Veronica Mars'', which would premiere in July 2019.
In 2019, she again reprised her role of Princess Anna in the video game, ''Kingdom Hearts III
and the sequel, ''Frozen II
'' which was released on November 22, 2019. Bell served as host and executive producer on the Disney+
'', which premiered in November 2019. She made her directorial debut with the eighth episode of the fourth season of ''The Good Place''. The series concluded after its fourth season, airing its final episode in January 2020.
At the 25th Critics' Choice Awards
, Bell received the #SeeHer Award, which recognizes women who "push boundaries on changing stereotypes and acknowledge the importance of authentic portrayals of women across the entertainment landscape".
In 2020, Bell published the children's book ''The World Needs More Purple People'', which she co-wrote with Benjamin Hart
. Also in 2020, Bell voiced Molly Tillerman in the Apple TV+
animated musical comedy series ''Central Park
'', which reunited her with ''Frozen'' co-star Josh Gad
and ''Bad Moms'' co-star Kathryn Hahn
. ''Central Park'' received a two-season order from Apple and the series premiered on May 29, 2020. In June 2020, it was announced that Bell, who is white, would no longer voice the biracial character of Molly. The role would be re-cast with a black or mixed race actress, with Bell voicing a new role.
Bell is set to produce and voice a lead character in the Prime Video
animated musical pre-school series ''Do, Re, & Mi''. She will narrate the titular character of the HBO Max
teen drama series ''''Gossip Girl
''. The series serves as a soft reboot and sequel to the 2007 series of the same
, which Bell also narrated. Bell will also star alongside Kirby Howell-Baptiste
as a pair of housewives who create a multi-million dollar coupon scam in the comedy film ''Queenpins
In the media
In 2006 and again in 2013, Bell was selected "World's Sexiest Vegetarian
" on PETA
's yearly poll.
She was placed No. 68 on ''Maxim''
's 2005 "Hot 100" list, No. 11 in ''Maxim''s 2006 "Hot 100" list, and No. 46 in ''Maxim''s 2007 "Hot 100" list in which she was stated to have "single-handedly saved The CW
from becoming the worst network ever". In 2006, ''Maxim'' also placed Bell at the top of the "Fall TV's Criminally Sexy Investigators" List.
In 2008, she was featured at No. 59 on AskMen
's Top 99 Women of 2008 List. Reflecting on her admitted popularity with "geeks", Bell was voted the fourth-sexiest woman on TV by the staff at ''Wizard'' magazine
Bell stated she never thought of herself as womanly because "I always play and look and act 10 years younger than I am." However, she said, "Something magical happened when I turned 25—I looked in the mirror and was like, 'You might not get carded for an R-rated movie anymore.' Like I didn't have a little stick figure anymore."
Bell has said that many of her characters are tomboy
s because she was "not homely enough to play the nerd
y girl and not nearly pretty enough to play the pretty girl".
Bell has been associated with the idea that "nerd
y is the new cool", and she explained, "what was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geek
iness, is it doesn't really matter what you're into—it just means you're not a follower."
She has also said, "I love nerds. Comic-Con
junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn't that funny? The tables have turned."
Vanessa Juarez of ''Entertainment Weekly
'' commented that Bell's roles on ''Veronica Mars'', ''Heroes'' and as a ''Star Wars
'' fanatic in ''Fanboys
'' have "solidifed
her placement at the center of the geek universe," while Rodney Rothman
stated, "I guess she's cornered the market on losers." Bell's work is often compared to Sarah Michelle Gellar
's portrayal of the title character
on the cult
television series ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Frank Scheck of ''The Hollywood Reporter
'' stated that Bell was "arguably the television successor o Gellar's portrayal of Buffy
when it comes to fighting bad guys." Bell is sometimes confused with Lauren Conrad
from ''The Hills
''. "Yeah, sometimes fans yell, 'Hey, Lauren' to me, but usually from a distance," said Bell.
Despite "new celebrity" status, Bell claimed that she was not concerned because "no one ever recognizes me anyway". She has said that her friend Hayden Panettiere
is more famous than she is and attracts more attention; as Bell explained, "I hang out with Hayden quite a bit—they never take pictures of me. I just step to the side, and I push myself in front of her when she wants to get out of it, or put her in the car."
Bell was a recurring guest on ''The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
'', appearing in interviews as well as sketches. On ''The Late Late Show'', she shows a humorous hostility towards Craig Ferguson
's robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson
, claiming that she had wanted to be Ferguson's sidekick on his show and taking it upon herself to cut Peterson down every chance she gets. Both Bell and Peterson appeared with Ferguson during the five ''Late Late Show'' episodes filmed in France.
In January 2011, it was announced that Bell would be the new face of Neutrogena
In April 2019, Bell was featured on the cover of ''Entrepreneur
'' magazine's April–May issue. In the article, she discussed her snack bar company, This Saves Lives, which donates its sales to help feed malnourished children around the globe. In November 2019, Bell and Idina Menzel
, who play sisters in Disney's ''Frozen'' franchise
, received neighboring stars—Bell's was the 2681st and Menzel's was the 2682nd—on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Relationships and family
In 2007, Bell ended a five-year relationship with former fiancé Kevin Mann. She later told ''Complex
'' magazine that dating "makes me want to vomit. And not out of grossness—OK, a little bit out of grossness, but just nerves... I've always been a serial monogamist
In late 2007, Bell began dating actor Dax Shepard
, who is also from Metro Detroit. The couple announced their engagement in January 2010. They decided to delay marriage until the state of California passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage
. They co-starred in the 2010 film ''When in Rome
'', the 2012 film ''Hit and Run
'', and the 2017 film ''CHiPs
''. After section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act
was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
on June 26, 2013, Bell asked Shepard to marry her through Twitter,
which he accepted.
They were married at the Beverly Hills
County Clerk's Office on October 16, 2013. They have two daughters, Lincoln and Delta, born in 2013 and 2014.
Beliefs, interests and charity work
At age 11, Bell became a vegetarian
In an interview with PETA, Bell stated, "I have always been an animal lover. I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with—dogs and cats, for example—from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat. I always loved my Brussels sprout
By 2012 Bell had become vegan
with her husband after watching the documentary ''Forks Over Knives
["Kristen in the Kitchen"](_blank)
, ''Women's Health'', March 8, 2012.
During her first pregnancy, she returned to eating dairy and eggs, however. During her time in Michigan, Bell fostered animals from the Michigan Humane Society
, and she now supports the San Diego-based Helen Woodward Animal Center
. Bell often attends fundraisers for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
and other non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting animals. She has had several dogs, including a Welsh Corgi
mix named Lola, a Welsh Corgi-Chihuahua
mix named Shakey, and a black Labrador Retriever
named Sadie, who was 11 years old when she was rescued from Hurricane Katrina
and adopted by Bell in 2005.
In 2018, Bell participated in a television advertisement for bone marrow donations, specifically the Gift of Live Marrow Registry. Her actions resulted in several matches that are documented on the Gift of Life website.
Bell has stated she is non-religious
and identifies as a humanist
. Bell and other ''Veronica Mars'' cast members, including Ryan Hansen
, are involved with the charity Invisible Children, Inc.
The goal of the organization is to create awareness of the plight of Northern Uganda
ns who are caught in the midst of a civil war
between the government and Joseph Kony
's Lord's Resistance Army
Bell has also done a public service announcement for Do Something
's Healthy Living Campaign. In 2014, Bell launched a Prizeo
campaign offering fans a chance to win a date with her in return for donating to Invisible Children, Inc. Kristen Bell won a 2020 Webby Special Achievement Award
Bell supported and campaigned for Barack Obama
during the 2008 United States presidential election
. Along with Rashida Jones
, she visited college campuses in Missouri
to discuss the candidates and encourage voter registration. Bell showed support for the Writers Guild of America
in the writers' strike
, appearing in the picket lines in December 2007, stating, "the writers are just looking for some fairness."
Bell and her husband Dax Shepard are staunchly pro-vaccination
Bell practices the Transcendental Meditation
program, stating: "I really enjoy powering down for 20 minutes because it’s like shutting off light switches in my brain."
In May 2016, Bell stated that she has struggled with and received treatment for depression
. She said, "It's important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer."
In 2019, Bell and her husband founded the company Hello Bello
, a plant-based baby care product line. The product line focuses on creating environmentally friendly and affordable products. The company partnered exclusively with Walmart
and the line is sold in all locations, as well as online.
* ''Reefer Madness
* ''Forgetting Sarah Marshall
* ''Couples Retreat
* ''When in Rome
* ''You Again
* ''Veronica Mars
* ''Frozen Fever
* ''The Boss
* ''Bad Moms
* ''A Bad Moms Christmas
* ''Olaf's Frozen Adventure
* ''Ralph Breaks the Internet
* ''Frozen II
Awards and nominations
Category:20th-century American actresses
Category:21st-century American actresses
Category:Actresses from Detroit
Category:American child actresses
Category:American film actresses
Category:American musical theatre actresses
Category:American people of German descent
Category:American people of Irish descent
Category:American people of Polish descent
Category:American people of Scottish descent
Category:American stage actresses
Category:American television actresses
Category:American video game actresses
Category:American voice actresses
Category:American web series actresses
Category:People from Huntington Woods, Michigan
Category:Tisch School of the Arts alumni