'Frozen' defrosts Kristen Bell's Disney dreams

05:00 AM, Jun 17, 2013

Anna (Kristen Bell), foreground, follows her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), the powerful and nefarious Snow Queen, in 'Frozen.' Disney/


Written By by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

Kristen Bell’s dreams of portraying a Walt Disney heroine have come true now that she will give voice to the klutzy but true-hearted Anna in the animated adventure epic Frozen.

Since I was 4 years old, I dreamed of being in a Disney animated film,” Bell says. “It was the first goal I ever set for myself. It seemed like it would be a very unrealistic one.”

In Frozen, due Nov. 27, Anna heads out on a treacherous quest to find her older, more powerful sister, Elsa, the Queen of Arrendelle (Idina Menzel). Elsa has fled after accidentally setting off a curse, leaving her kingdom in perpetual winter. The story is based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Anna is the sibling who doesn’t normally get that much attention and is used to kind of just spazzing out on her own,” Bell says. “But she’s forced into a position where her sister needs her, and she has to step up to the plate.”

Bell brought her own ideas to directors Chris Buck (Surf’s Up, Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (a screenwriter on Wreck-It Ralph) about how to play her character.

She’s not a good fighter, she doesn’t have good posture, she’s not very elegant, and she’s constantly putting her foot in her mouth,” she says. “But she’s a good person and she’s utterly determined.”

She doesn’t have any superpowers,” adds Lee. “But Anna is one of these ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing.”

Anna has help on her quest to find Elsa, including an assist from rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), whose friendly steed is a reindeer named Sven. The group is joined by talking snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), who provides further comic relief.

And there is romance. After all, Frozen features the charming Prince Hans (Santino Fontana, who is currently starring as Prince Charming in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway).

He’s the more Disney-type of guy,” says Bell, who notes that Anna also develops an unlikely fondness for Kristoff. But the film focuses on the relationship between the two sisters.

That’s such an important part of this,” Lee says. “Two sisters torn apart by a big family secret.”

The animators traveled to Norway to scope out the winter world firsthand and incorporated the look into Frozen’s 3-D-enhanced scenery. Buck says his team had “a blast” re-creating the beauty on-screen.

The light is amazing, the way it refracts and dances off the snow and ice,” Buck says. “We’re still working on the film, but what we have seen is stunning.”

Frozen also features music from The Book of Mormon’s Robert Lopez and lyrics from his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, which are performed by top Broadway stars. Bell sang alongside stage standout Menzel, a prospect she found “terrifying.”

It’s like getting on a bike path with Lance Armstrong,” Bell says. “She’s one of the best singers on the planet.”

But like Anna, Bell carried the day. She says her role is something that Lincoln, her newborn daughter with Dax Shepard, will be proud of one day.

Now that I have a little girl, she’s going to be able to see me voice this character, and that’s a special part of the process for me,” Bell says. “She won’t know for a very long time, but when that time comes, she’ll be as excited as I am now.”