The friendship meet-cute between Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kristen Bell barely registered the first time they crossed paths. Howell-Baptiste was filming a guest spot on Showtime’s “House of Lies” — which featured Bell — and knew her lines so well, the scene the two shared didn’t take long to complete.
Bell’s face twists thinking back on it: “I was about 13 months pregnant.”
“We genuinely met for an hour when we shot the scene,” Howell-Baptiste adds. “It was very quick. I was in and out.”
Their story really starts, as they both tell it, six years later on “The Good Place.” Bell played Eleanor Shellstrop, the self-centered and foul-mouthed deceased protagonist of the NBC afterlife comedy. Howell-Baptiste joined the series in its third season as a bubbly neurosurgeon, Dr. Simone Garnett, who makes an impression on the ever-indecisive Chidi (William Jackson Harper). The following year, in 2019, Howell-Baptiste joined Bell in Hulu’s revival of “Veronica Mars,” the cult teen detective drama that was Bell’s breakthrough role.
“We killed someone together between ‘The Good Place’ and ‘Veronica Mars’ — we were both at fault. In order to keep the secret, we have to keep this going,” Bell teases.
There’s a reason Bell is making quips about crime. The pair are currently starring as crooked coupon buddies in the crime comedy “Queenpins,” written and directed by husband-and-wife duo Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly; it’s now in theaters and drops later this month on Paramount+. Bell and Howell-Baptiste play coupon-loving friends: Bell is Connie, a former speed-walking Olympian who copes with an unfulfilling marriage and infertility by couponing; Howell-Baptiste is Jojo, a friend and neighbor trying to find success as a coupon influencer. The friends break bad … nicely, turning their enthusiasm for savings into a Robin Hood-esque scheme bilking millions from corporations to deliver deals to fellow coupon clippers. [more at source]
“How are you?” has become a loaded question during the worst global pandemic in a century. Sometimes I say “Fine?”—emphasis on the question mark—when I really mean “Hanging by a thread” or, to borrow the title of author and reluctant grief expert Nora McInerny’s podcast, “Terrible, thanks for asking.” It’s loaded in casual, masked conversation, in fumbling, awkward emails, and also when Zooming with Kristen Bell at 6:15 p.m. Los Angeles time on a Tuesday night in late March.
How is Bell, actor, producer, and the somewhat rare not-annoying mom influencer/purveyor of CBD skin-care? “I am currently fulfilled,” she replies with a nod from the set of her new Netflix miniseries, the dark comedy-thriller The Woman in the House. Bell is eating a sandwich in her trailer (6:15 p.m. is lunch when you film until the wee hours) and wearing a caramel-colored bang hairpiece. “Going back to work was a little nerve-wracking,” Bell tells me, but it was necessary for her sense of balance—a word she hates but that seems unavoidable when talking about mothers and their careers. Like millions of parents across the country, “I was in my house for one year with a six- and a seven-year-old”—her daughters Delta and Lincoln with husband Dax Shepard (as everyone who tracks their life like a reality show well knows).
But Bell isn’t one to leave it at that, allowing any reader of this story to think she’s a perfectly cute super celebrity, the actor behind Veronica Mars, Sarah Marshall, Gossip Girl, and the unmistakably chipper Anna from Frozen. Bell acknowledges she had the privilege of sheltering in a luxurious space. “I say to [my kids] all the time, ‘I’m not saying you can’t complain. You’re allowed to have any feeling you want, and you’re allowed to sit in it for as long as you need. But when you’re done, I just need you to remember,’” she says, “‘we have the luckiest life you have ever heard of. You have a swimming pool in your backyard.’” But she is also one of the millions of people for whom the pandemic, in all of its uncertainty and tragedy, exacerbated existing mental health issues.
“I know that I present someone who is very bubbly and happy all the time, and a lot of the time I am, because I have really good tools,” she tells me. “But there are definitely days when the alarm goes off and I go, ‘No, I’m staying right here. Nothing’s worth it…. I’m just going to stay in this cocoon because I need to; because I feel very, very, very vulnerable.’”
Bell’s anxiety and depression came in waves during the long, dark valley of COVID-19. “I have trouble distinguishing between my emotions and someone else’s emotions, and that’s not a compliment to myself. That’s a very dangerous thing to toy with,” she explains. Consuming the endlessly heavy news took her to a “mental zone that wasn’t healthy for my family to be around.” Shepard confronted Bell in a way that certainly wouldn’t be right for everyone but that she reflects on as a turning point. “‘Hey, real quick, are you helping anyone right now by sitting and crying in your bed, or are you just being self-indulgent?’” Bell remembers him saying. “‘Either get up and donate money or donate your time or do something to help, or take that story in, give it some love, and come out here and be a good mom and a good wife and a good friend and live your life in honor of the suffering that happens in the world.’” Bell had an understandable response: “‘How dare you?’ But also, ‘You’re right.’” So she gave blood to the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center and made a donation to No Kid Hungry. [More at Source]
The next time you need reassurance that the world works the way your yoga teacher says it does, and that what you put out is what you’ll get back, consider the story of how Kristen Bell got the leading role on The Good Place.
The year was 2016. The setting: a Los Angeles movie theater lobby. Mike Schur, the show’s creator, had gone to see a movie by himself. Bell was there with her husband, Dax Shepard, and their two daughters, Lincoln and Delta.
Bell and Schur knew each other from New York City, where they had both lived in their 20s and moved in the same circles. Schur was writing for Saturday Night Live, and Bell was still a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, just starting to work on Broadway. Even then, he was in awe of her talent: “She’d been in The Crucible! With, like, Laura Linney and Liam Neeson!”
Eventually they each moved to LA, crossing paths occasionally. The time Schur ran into Bell at the movie theater, he happened to mention his daughter’s upcoming fourth birthday. Bell, unprompted, asked if Ivy would like a phone call from Princess Anna.
“She left, like, this two-minute message on my phone, and she kept saying my daughter’s name – ‘Ivy, this is Princess Anna, calling from Arendelle,’” Schur says. “And the way my daughter’s face lit up…”
In addition to having an enchanted kid, Schur also had Bell’s phone number. He called to tell her that he was working on a show and that she might be perfect to play the lead. The rest is television history.
The Good Place — a show about an “Arizona dirtbag” who dies in a tragic shopping-cart/truck collision, and then wakes up believing she’s been accidentally sent to Heaven — asked big questions: What makes someone a good person? What do we owe other people? How do we live together in the world?
Even if she hadn’t completed a four-season run on the show early this year, you get the sense that Bell would still care about those questions. [More at Source]
Kristen Bell has been living in a bit of a self-described “COVID bubble” over the past six-plus months.
There has been some fun (“my daughters are literally changing their hair color weekly”), and some bad (husband Dax Shepard was in a motorcycle accident that resulted in a couple of broken ribs right before the photo shoot for this issue), a birthday (she hit the big 4-0 in July), and some reflection: “If I don’t work, other people don’t get their paychecks,” she solemnly admits.
Through it all, Bell says, there’s been some adapting, coupled with “involuntary” creativity. “I have not hated staying at home. I’ve found that I can function better with a smaller life, and not having as many things to do,” she explains. “I’m still busy, but there’s a lot more creativity happening because we’ve been forced into a corner. Now, we’re making forward-facing choices to try and enjoy it.”
NewBeauty: How is this “new normal” treating you?
Kristen Bell: Well, first, let me recognize my privilege in all of this because that’s necessary. Of course, this entire experience has come with heightened stresses and anxieties. We’ve had to spend 24 hours a day together for six months, so we’re going to get on each other’s nerves, and that’s normal. My husband and I discovered something from it all: As a family, it’s important to be reminded of how to be patient and how to give each other a little bit of grace.
That part of, “Oh, two weeks! Let’s do a push-up challenge!” is certainly over. I am lucky in that my children seem to be introverts and they are really happy being at home. We’ve gotten over the hump of frustration and now we’re trying to have some fun. My daughters have been changing their hair color weekly. Today, they were so excited to go red; during one of their 15-minute school breaks, we washed their hair, towel-dried it, put the hair color in, went back to school for a half hour, had another 15-minute break, rinsed it out, and they finished their day with red hair. The brand is called Maria Nila—there’s pink, lavender, dark violet, cherry red, and it all washes out in a week. My girls love it. [Source]
You have two young kids and tons of acting projects on the go. Why did you start Hello Bello?
Because my brain never stops. And when I have an idea—whether it’s organizing my junk drawer or carving out a niche with a new company—it’s like an itch that I have to scratch.
Hello Bello’s focus is on good-quality, Earth-friendly ingredients at accessible prices. Why did you choose this angle?
My husband and I both grew up in Michigan, and we were both on a pretty major budget growing up, like 99.9 percent of people who live on this globe. And when we moved to California, we never stopped being grateful that we could go to a fancy baby boutique and buy something with the best ingredients and not even look at the price. And it occurred to us that, with the platform we’ve been given, we could take an idea like this to someone who could execute it and do it right, and we’d speak on behalf of it. So the goal was to create a premium baby-care product that had efficacy, that was healthy for the planet, but did not make parents choose between their baby and their budget. We like to say, “It’s your mom’s ingredients at your dad’s prices”—because Dax is cheap and I’m always the one reading labels. I mean, we’re both cheap, but Dax is so cheap.
Which Hello Bello products do you use at home?
We all use the wipes everywhere and anywhere, and the kids use just about everything except the diaper rash cream, but I use it as a lip balm.
Wait, you put a product made for bums on your mouth?
There’s just great stuff in it! It’s moisturizing; it’s a balm. You can also use it as a foot moisturizer under your socks. Everyone should learn to read labels.
The Hello Bello diapers are getting tons of attention for their adorable prints. But I guess your kids are out of diapers at this point.
There’s a nighttime diaper situation. There’s a four-year-old late bloomer who likes a nighttime diaper for comfort.
Hey, no shame in that. My feeling about overnight potty training is that most of the time you can wait for it to solve itself.
Right? And also, no sixth grader is wearing diapers. This is going to rectify itself—I don’t need to worry too much about it. But what’s funny is, my first child potty trained herself at the mere suggestion of using the toilet, before she was even two years old. She was also the best baby, and my husband and I were like, “Why is everyone complaining so much about parenting? This is, like, so easy. Either that or…maybe we’re just really good at this!” Then we had the second one and we were like, “Oh no. It’s a mess. It’s a mess.” [More at Source]
If you want to get Kristen Bell’s attention, might I suggest you transform into a fitness ball or a nutritional supplement, a back stretcher or a muscle roller on social media. “If I see it, I’m getting it,” the 39-year-old says of what could generally be referred to as wellness Instagram. “I can’t tell you how susceptible I am to it—I just want to try everything.”
It’s how she wound up with, to date, Yamuna Balls, resistance bands, gliding discs, foam rollers, KeVita drinks, Moon Juice Dust, powdered camel milk, Sun Potion adaptogens, and something called the Chirp Wheel+. “That algorithm works,” Kristen says, biting into a spinach salad at a café in Los Angeles.
We’ve just come from a grueling Pilates class at Studio Metamorphosis next door, where the star of this month’s Frozen II alternated between singing and grunting through planks, pikes, and lunges, and in one instance, gripped the high bars of the reformer and suspended her frame above the machine in a V shape.
Kristen is a muscular 5’1½”, but until this past year, she had never done one workout consistently. About a year ago, however, she found what she likes to call “Studio Morph,” and for the first time in her life, she fell in love with exercise.
“I’ve always felt mentally strong because I’m adept and can banter and hold my own in a good conversation,” says Kristen. “But I’ve never felt physically strong. I felt waifish…or pregnant. And I’m loving the fact that if we ever get attacked by ninjas, I would be a valuable asset.”
Ideally, she makes it to a class three times a week, usually with a friend. (After she brought writers from The Good Place, one texted her: “Kristen, what hospital do you typically go to after this class?”) It’s a challenging workout that incorporates cardio, circuit training, and CrossFit elements, and its benefits for Kristen are numerous.
“It’s about the muscle in my body. Having children obliterated my abdominal wall,” she says of giving birth to daughters Lincoln, 6, and Delta, 4. “Good night. That’s a wrap. And I thought, Well, it’s never going to come back. What do I need it for? I’m married. Spanx exist. You don’t get everything all the time.” [More at Source]
Say you’re Kristen Bell. Say you’re on a daylong photo shoot, in the middle of capturing the fifth look — a sleek Versace number that’s emerald and gold; your hair perfectly poufed; your makeup flawless. You’re cheerfully giving everything you’ve got, even though it’s been several hours of this already, because that’s what you do. Then, suddenly, someone accidentally knocks over one of the plants near you on set. Do you: a) ignore it and keep posing; b) start screaming at the crew, how dare they, do they even know who you are?; c) squat in your stilettos and start cleaning up the mess as the crew rushes to help you, and then grab a broom and take it upon yourself to tidy up the floor, laughing and making jokes and even dancing around for a second, as people crowd around to snap photos of you being so absolutely Kristen Bell?
WWKBD? The answer, of course, is C. And here, you might say, is the crux of Bell — a woman whose natural effervescence is such that despite being the cherished hero of a beloved cult television show, it was a video of herself melting down over a sloth on Ellen that really, truly, endeared her to the larger world. Kristen Bell is the hardest working woman in the room, but you wouldn’t even guess she’s not here just to have a good time. And that may be one of her greatest powers.
She’s a woman of contradictions: Bell breathlessly pivots between froth and seriousness, jokes and sincerity, cleaning up a fallen plant while wearing 3-inch heels. It’s a quality that extends to her on-screen roles. In her existentialist NBC sitcom The Good Place, which is heading into its fourth and final season, Bell’s character is a bad person learning to be good. In Veronica Mars, which returned for a fourth season on Hulu 12 years after it was canceled, she’s a hard-nosed detective on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside. In Frozen 2, the sequel to the 2013 blockbuster Disney hit, out in November, she’s happy-go-lucky Princess Anna, a girl who copes with the pain and alienation of her life with a song. (Yes, she can sing, too.) Her career is full of performances that blend the sad and happy, highs and lows. As a person, she embodies the same. “It is a paradox because I was given this package, this is the bottle of molecules I was given, and it looks to be something that it’s not,” she says. “It’s why it’s funny when I swear. You just don’t think a little girl like this is going to swear at you that much.” [More at Source]
Comic Con Day 2 wrapped up with Kristen going all over the place for The Good Place. I’ve updated the gallery with photos from the panel, press line & portrait sessions.
Yesterday was a busy day and we expect nothing less from the coverage that’s going to come out of The Good Place media team today! But first, Veronica Mars! It’s been an amazing time yesterday seeing the cast promoting the upcoming season that dropped yesterday as opposed to it’s scheduled release next week!
We’re going to remain spoilers free for another 2 weeks before posting the stills and screencaptures from the new season, till then, enjoy the photo and video coverage from yesterday below.
Public Appearances > 2019 > 19 July – Comic Con International – Press Room
Public Appearances > 2019 > 19 July – Comic Con International – IMDB Boat
Photo Sessions > 2019 > Set 005
Photo Sessions > 2019 > Set 006
Photo Sessions > 2019 > Set 007
Photo Sessions > 2019 > Set 008
The EW Broadcast and Team Coco videos are under the cut.
Four Hollywood actors had a big idea: Launch a snack bar and use the sales to help feed malnourished kids around the world. They had a big name, This Bar Saves Lives, for their company. And as they sat around their office — which was really just one of their condos — in the early days of the business, they dreamed up their biggest possible goals and wrote them on a chalkboard.
“We brainstormed what success, on the business side, would look like. I’m not talking about growth trajectory or EBITDA here — I’m talking about wild indicators that would mean we’d made it,” says Ryan Devlin, one of the company’s cofounders. They wrote down three things: (1) Bars in the White House; (2) Bars in space; (3) Bars in Starbucks.
They’re still working on the first two. But with a little gumption, the third proved attainable — and would force the company to rethink exactly what it is and who should even lead it.
This is often how it goes with mission-driven businesses. Their founders start with full hearts and eager plans, but not necessarily a full grasp on what it takes to scale their ambitions. Devlin admits it himself, and even sees it as a good thing. “We are a mission with a company, not a company with a mission,” he says. But regardless of whether a socially minded company is run by famous actors or obscure do-gooders, the reality of running a business will eventually take hold. And it would for This Bar Saves Lives, too.
But first: goal #3. Bars in Starbucks.
This Bar Saves Lives’ most famous cofounder is Kristen Bell, and as it turns out, she’s good at digging up email addresses. “You make weird contacts in this business,” she says. She found the email of Starbucks’ then-CEO, Howard Schultz, lurking in her inbox and wrote him: “I have a project you might be interested in, because I know [Starbucks’] values.” Schultz replied. A meeting was set up, and Bell and Devlin hopped on a plane to Seattle…though they weren’t entirely sure what they’d do when they arrived. Neither of them had pitched a product like this before.
But they did have one experience to fall back on. “We’re both actors,” she says. “We just acted like we had this job our whole lives. We’re really good in a room. And some of our charm comes from saying, ‘Feel free to give us advice.’ We went in with an open mind and open ears.”
Does it help having the likes of Kristen Bell on your team? Surely. But still, Starbucks gave the fledgling company the smallest of tests; it put the bars in its stores in two cities to see how they’d perform. Sales were promising. So Starbucks expanded the test, and expanded again until This Bar Saves Lives products were in every Starbucks in America.
“We were making incredible strides, but it was so messy,” Devlin says. “We were just growing. There wasn’t a focused strategy.”
And there it is: The do-good initiative had reached a wall. Now it was time to really build a business. [More at Source]