'Frozen' directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck talk Kristen Bell, music and chemistry
While fans eagerly await seeing "Veronica Mars" reborn on the big screen, Kristen Bell is ready to take her place on a new throne, that of a Disney princess. The actress stars in the upcoming "Frozen" as Anna, and the movie's directors, Chris Buck ("Tarzan") and Jennifer Lee ("Wreck-It Ralph"), couldn't possibly think of someone better for the role.
Zap2it had the chance to speak with them about Bell's influence on the character, as well as her chemistry with co-star Idina Menzel, the movie's music and more.
"There is no other Anna but Kristen," Lee says. Buck adds, "There are times she comes in and we're just talking to her before we ever record and it's like you're talking to Anna."
Bell's informing Anna also greatly helped Jennifer, who wrote the movie, which is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen." "As a writer, she's a dream because you give her pages and say 'Let's play'," Lee says, "and she will dance around and add to it, always knowing what the character is feeling and never losing it."
As for comparisons to Bell's "Veronica Mars" counterpart, there is a line that can be drawn. "I definitely see it in terms of strong female leads," Jennifer says, "and in terms of Kristen." One thing about her strong female leads is Bell has an sense of how she thinks women should be portrayed, as Lee adds, "She really cares about saying 'This is who girls really are. We're messy and we're funny and we're dynamic,' and we really love that."
Furthermore, Jennifer says, "There's a fearlessness that, yes is our theme, but comes from Kristen. That helped us push the theme harder about the idea of fear vs. love. I don't think anyone could pull that off with such believability as she could ... These are the characters we want to see, they're real people, messy people."
A very important component of the movie is Bell's chemistry with Menzel, as the two play sisters. According to Buck, they tried to get them recording together in the same room as often as their schedules would allow, but there were other options if that didn't work out. "Sometimes if you can't bring them together you'll have recorded one already and you'll have them listen and respond quickly, like they would in a real conversation, so they're not just reading lines," he says.
One scene in particular was important to have them in the room together, though. "They do sing a song together and really having them together was huge," Lee remembers. "It was wonderful doing the scenes leading into it together. It's amazing how the emotion that you get in their voices that can actually be translated through rigging onto the characters.
As music is such an important part of the film, it's worth noting that Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, wrote and composed the songs featured in the story. While the pair also did the music for 2011's "Winnie the Pooh," Robert is best known for something a bit more mature.
Lopez co-wrote the music and lyrics for "Avenue Q" and "Book of Mormon," both of which are more adult fare than anything else. Still, Buck and Lee knew this was the songwriting team that would do right by the movie.
"I went and saw 'Avenue Q' and 'Book of Mormon' and I thought 'This is great, this is fresh and new'," Chris says, before Jennifer interjects, "It's playful." Buck continues, "Even 'Book of Mormon', when you listen to it, besides the lyrics, it's still rooted in great Broadway songs, great musical theater with emotion and heart."
Having them on board also helps to reach a broader audience, as Jennifer points out, "With all of these films you don't set out to make a kids movie in any way, you make it for everyone. It has to speak on many levels." So while the songs may appeal to children, there's plenty to catch an adult's eye or ear, engrossing them in the story as well.
"Disney's Frozen" is in theaters November 27.
Photo/Video credit: Disney Animation Studios
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