Also Credited As:Kristen Anne Bell
|Kristen Anne Bell on July 18, 1980 in Huntington Woods, Michigan, USA|
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Born July 18, 1980, Bell was raised in a suburb of Detroit, MI. She fell in love with performing at a very early age, and landed onstage in a local production at age 11. By age 13, she had secured an agent and was appearing in print advertising for local retailers; eventually working her way up to local television commercials. Theater continued to be a passion, and while attending the Shrine Catholic High School in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, she played Dorothy in a school production of "The Wizard of Oz," as well as appeared in other musicals like "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Lady Be Good." Her big screen debut came in the form of an uncredited appearance in the indie comedy "Polish Wedding" (1998), which was filmed in Detroit. With her sights firmly set on an acting career, Bell went on to study musical theater at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts. In 2001, while still a student, she made her Broadway debut playing Becky Thatcher in a musical version of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." She also appeared off-Broadway in an adaptation of the legendary 1930s public service announcement film, "Reefer Madness: The Musical," in the lead role of Mary Lane.
Back on Broadway, Bell was cast in the revival of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" in 2002, alongside Laura Linney and Liam Neeson. With her impressive résumé of stage credits, Bell relocated to Los Angeles the same year and almost immediately booked a guest spot on "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08), playing the girlfriend of a gang member who is raped and branded by a rival gang lord. Appearances on "American Dreams (NBC, 2002-05) and "Everwood" (The WB, 2002-06) followed, as did more substantial roles in TV movies "The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay" (Hallmark Channel, 2003), in which she showed off her singing talent, and "Gracie's Choice" (Lifetime, 2004), where she received top billing as a drug addict's (Anne Heche) daughter forced to raise her siblings. Bell was also cast as the kidnapped daughter of the President in David Mamet's largely unseen thriller "Spartan" (2004), and had a recurring role as a conniving grifter who meets an unpleasant end on HBO's gritty, Wild West drama, "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06). But 2004 was best remembered as Bell's breakout year, thanks to a quirky family drama called "Veronica Mars."
The title role of the daughter of a former small town sheriff who takes on her own cases, called for a unique blend of cheerleader looks and "outsider" attitude, which Bell delivered with aplomb. Clever writing and direction and a terrific cast helped earn "Veronica Mars" popularity among critics and a substantial cult following, though not quite enough to make the show a breakout hit. For her part, Bell won numerous award nominations, including from the Teen Choice Awards and TV Critics Association. Meanwhile, she reprised her role as Mary Lane in a Showtime adaptation of "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical" (2005) and appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival in the ensemble cast of the dark comedy "Fifty Pills" (2006). She went on to take the co-lead opposite Ian Somerhalder in "Pulse" (2007), a Wes Craven-scripted remake of the Asian horror film "Kairo" (2001) which was dismissed by critics.
Bell returned to television in 2007 in two of the most talked-about dramas in primetime, serving as the narrator of the stylish, risqué, chronicle of New York's elite teen set in "Gossip Girl" (The CW, 2007- ) and joining the cast of NBC's sci-fi hit "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010) during its second season. On the latter, Bell was cast as Elle Bishop, a mentally unbalanced agent at a company that conducts experiments on people endowed with supernatural powers; she also has her own power to control electricity. The following spring, Bell experienced her first major movie success with the blockbuster romantic comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008), a well-reviewed Judd Apatow production that cast Bell as a TV star who ends up at the same Hawaiian resort as the boyfriend she recently ditched (Jason Segel). Her follow-up release "Fan Boys" (2009), about a group of Star Wars fans on a pilgrimage to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, was only shown in a handful of theaters but was well received by its intended audience.
It was the success of "Sarah Marshall" that eventually led to Bell being cast in a number of other big-budget releases; in 2009, she was paired with Jason Bateman as a married couple on a combination resort/therapy getaway in "Couples Retreat" (2009), also starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis. Simultaneously in theaters, Bell could be heard as one of the all-star voice cast of "Astro Boy" (2009), an animated adaptation of the popular cone-topped Japanese character. Reprising her flair for romantic comedy, Bell took a starring role as a tourist whose offhanded visit to a famed fountain of love in Rome leads to her unexplained pursuit by half a dozen men when she returns to New York in "When in Rome" (2010). Following a cameo in "Get Him to the Greek" (2010), Bell co-starred alongside veterans Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver and Bette White in the poorly-received comedy "You Again" (2010) and was lost in the shuffle in the widely-panned musical "Burlesque" (2010), starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. Following a cameo in "Scream 4" (2011) where she was killed off Drew Barrymore-style, Bell became a series regular once again with a leading role on "House of Lies" (Showtime, 2012- ), where she played an Ivy League-educated graduate who works for a cutthroat management consultant (Don Cheadle).
Bell went on to star in the action comedy "Hit and Run" (2012), which was written by real-life beau, Dax Shepard, whom she started dating in 2007. The couple announced their engagement in 2010, but delayed their nuptials in protest of the state of California passing Proposition 8, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Both Bell and Shepard were vocal about their support of same-sex marriage while condemning the state's ban, and stated that they would remain unmarried until "California gets on the right side of history." Meanwhile, Shepard famously gave his girlfriend the present of meeting a baby sloth for her 31st birthday, a dream come true due to her near life-long obsession with the strange animal. Bell recounted the story on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (syndicated, 2003- ) and showed video of her tearful, over-the-top breakdown that elicited genuine laughter in the studio audience and soon went viral on the Internet. The perfectly matched pair announced in November 2012 that they were expecting their first child. Back in features, Bell was set to reprise her most famed character, Veronica Mars, after years of speculation that creator Rob Thomas was looking to adapt the series to the big screen. Thomas stated that he was interested in writing a script if he could find the financing to make the movie. In March 2013, Bell and Thomas launched a Kickstarter fundraiser in order to cull $2 million from fans with incentives for those willing to kick in over $10. The idea took off like wildfire as their goal was reached within a mere 10 hours, making it the most successful Kickstarter film project to date. The untitled "Veronica Mars" film was set to go into production later in 2013 with a release date set for the following year. Only days after this great career news, Bell gave birth to daughter Lincoln Bell Shepard.
Also in 2013, Bell starred in the indie drama "The Lifeguard" and appeared on episodes of the popular comedy "Parks & Recreation" (NBC, 2009- ). That fall, following the end of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited same-sex marriages, she and Shepard finally wed. Shortly thereafter, more notable Bell projects saw the light of day, with the actress lending her voice to the main character of Anna in the Disney animated film "Frozen" and a spot on the TV special "Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular."