We had the pleasure of chatting with Kristen Bell about her latest project Astro Boy as well as what the chances were of a Veronica Mars movie. Check it out below!
The character of Astro Boy is pretty new for most people in America because it hasn’t really gotten much exposure in the last 15-20 years. Were you worried about the property not being well known?
Kristen: No, because David informed us all how big it is overseas, and how, for some reason, it just hasn’t touched down in America. But, it’s really the Mickey Mouse to everybody else – especially in Japan. So, I think it was just exciting to be able to adapt it here and hopefully please all the original fans as well.
How much time were you actually in a sound booth recording?
Kristen: Not a ton. We’ve nothing on our plate compared to these animators. I’ve gone in a couple times and done a couple full days of recording. You do it over the course of six months or so and you see, originally, the pencil sketchings of what your character would look like and then these big plaques of what they think your hair style will be and what your face will look like when it’s mad or sad or happy or laughing or angry and then starting to see the animation actually work and then the colors go in and then the depth goes in. There’s so many layers and they work on these movies for so long. If you don’t know how it’s done (and I don’t really even know how it’s done), I don’t think you realize how much hard work these people have all put into it.
What do you think David Bowers brought to this project in total?
Kristen: The heart. Definitely. He’s so into the story and he’s so loves Astro Boy with all his heart and he is kind of a little boy, truly, at his core. He loves this story and he wants everyone else to love this story, so he did his best to tell the original story of Astro Boy and also give it all the themes that were important to him. Which they really did. It’s not a movie that shoves themes or morals down your face, but-down your mouth. Throat? Eyeballs? [Laughs] I don’t know. Where am I going with this?
But there is just the idea of that Metro City just floats above and is the metropolis. It’s beautiful and clean and the surface of the earth is just destroyed, because we’ve taken all these liberties and not been very eco-friendly and it’s just gross and dirty and no one can live here anymore. Just the idea of that, I think that – it’s just important to think about. “Oh wow! What if? That could happen one day.” So that, maybe, makes people be a little more green or eco-friendly. And then the idea of – the movie starts out with this – the introduction is about robots and how they work for us and we’re happy with them, but don’t get to close to them because work for us. And the idea of sort of second-class citizens and not being as nice as you always should and that things are disposable.
Then Astro comes into the picture and he has every human emotion, but he’s a robot and everything turns chaotic because people think, “Well, what do we do with that?” I think the movie’s just about using your heart and your gut and treat people how they deserve to be treated.
It wouldn’t be hard to read into some even bigger political undertones in the movie, with a nemesis named “Peacekeeper.” So do you think people are going to play of that, especially a family movie?
Kristen: Oh, it’s definitely a family movie, but, like I said, there’s so much thought that goes into all of these: the colors and themes and everything. And I think, you know, the irony that it’s called the “Peacekeeper” and it’s the most terrorizing robot ever. I think is just something to take with a grain of salt, but it also gets you thinking.
When was the first time you saw your voice paired up with your character?
Kristen: It was when I – I saw a very short clip about six months ago and I wasn’t really convinced that I’d done a good job. And then I saw the movie a couple nights ago and what I really wanted was to be able to not hear my voice. I don’t even like to listen to my answering machine message, so it flabbergasts me that people hire me for voiceover gigs because I don’t care for it. I hear it ringing in my head all day ’cause I talk a mile a minute, and I’m just over it – the sound of my own voice. But I tried with Cora to just make it as real as possible and as heartfelt as possible. And I was kind of able to ignore the fact that it was me in the movie, which I think is the best thing that could have happened.
In live action projects, you work with your ensemble cast, you’re with them, usually, daily and this type of project you’re probably like ships in the night. You record, they record, you don’t get to build that camaraderie and the energy with the actors. Is that a challenge?
Kristen: I don’t know if it was a challenge because everybody’s rooting for the same goal. Everybody’s just so excited to see the movie put together. But it was a little difficult not to act along side other actors and to really learn how little you can fake in voiceovers. It seems – it is fairly easy because the hours are easy and you have someone walking you through all of it. I’m not an animator so I don’t have any other job than to speak. It’s hard in the voiceover booth to fake anything, because when you play it back it sounds like you’re faking it. It really does. There were scenes were Cora gets choked up and the first time I did it, it sounded like I was trying to get out of a speeding ticket. It was not good. And I thought, “Oh! OK.” Well, then you just go back and adjust and you talk to David and I realized I need a minute to get emotional about this because it’s an important scene and it needs to read that way.
You mentioned that [David] had a little bit of flexibility to change things and ad lib things as he went along, and that the studio was great about doing that and turning it around. On your end, did you have any flexibility, or was it strictly to the letter in the script?
Kristen: No, not at all. David’s really collaborative. He has the whole movie in his head, and this process has just been trying to keep everybody on track to make this great environment for people to work and get the product that he wants and knows is possible. But he was very eager to say, “Well, what would you say here?” As long as you’re getting the message across. You know, a little of a thing as if you wanted to say, “Ow!” instead of “Ouch!” Those were suggestions definitely taken. He wasn’t a script Nazi by any means. He wanted it to feel like it was yours and you could ad little stutters that made it seem more real or suggest a line. They were really open to that stuff.
Did you see any characteristics of yourself in Cora, as far as the animation? The way your mouth moved when you talked?
Kristen: A little bit. I mean, there are points where they video tape you doing it so the animators can know what your – if you’re delivering it really dry and sarcastic or if your eyebrows go up. So they’re sort of on the same page. Like I said, I really – I was able to take myself out of it and not think, “Oh, that’s me.” ‘Cause if I see a movie and I know it’s me, I tend to be very critical. But I was kind of able to ignore the fact that it was me. And she’s a brunette, which I’m not familiar with, so…
Can you give us an update on the Veronica Mars movie?
Kristen: The only update I can give is: everyone’s very eager and willing. Rob [Thomas] and I had talked a lot last year, and he came up with a great treatment, pitched it to Warner Brothers, and they have said that there is currently no enthusiasm to make it. Which is as sad thing to hear, but the reality of that is maybe it we write enough letters or –
It still has a very strong fanbase.
Kristen: But I don’t think they realize that. And, you know, it never had the biggest fan base. So, I think as a studio head, if you’re looking at it – you could easily just get mad – but from their point of view, they need to sell tickets. They need to make sure the budget matches what they’ll make back. And I can understand that, but it’s all about not convincing them that it can happen and that the fans will go. Because I’m asked on an almost daily basis about when it’s going to be made. And it’s so heartbreaking to have to give that answer every time.
If this premiere in Japan does happen, have you ever been a promotional tour to Japan?
Kristen: I’ve never been to Japan; I’m so excited. I’m contractually obligated currently to be somewhere else, and the only way I will not be in Japan is if I’m handcuffed to a radiator somewhere else. I guarantee that.
Interview By: Emma Loggins