Bell knows these pleas will fall on deaf ears in many instances. “I am targeting the [media outlets] I think have the integrity to change. I’m not targeting InTouch or Life & Style or Star, because they’re as bad as The National Enquirer. If you put the face of a 6-year-old on the cover of your magazine, and print ‘Suri’s Hidden Drama,’ you’re an asshole. That’s a 6-year-old! Are you fucking kidding me? What’s wrong with you?”
Thus far, Bell and Shepard’s endeavors have been met with nearly universal praise, according to Bell, who estimates that roughly 5% of the responses are negative and mostly comprise people saying she should have known that this is the price of fame.
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t know that my profession would eventually make my child miserable, because if I had, I never would have chosen this career,” she said of the criticism. “I would be in [my hometown in] Michigan, trying to be as happy as possible, and feeling good about who I was.”
Bell is also aware that this problem affects “like, 50 people,” but feels her history of global advocacy more than entitles her to tackle an issue that hits so close to home. “There are absolutely bigger issues in the world, and I stand up for a lot of them on a pretty regular basis,” she said of her work with the ASPCA, Do Something, and Invisible Children, among other causes.
“The reason I can stand for this confidently is because I do my shit elsewhere. I’ve been to Africa and seen the projects I’ve raised money for. My side of the street is clean. I’m not sleeping on the job here. I just think it’s really important to acknowledge where we’re heading as a culture if we choose to ignore these kinds of issues.”
Refusing to accept that our society is, by and large, willfully ignorant is exactly why she’s now drumming up support for I Am That Girl, a new motivational book written by Alexis Jones, whom Bell first met in 2008 at an Invisible Children lobbying event in Washington, D.C. The book is an extension of the website that Jones owns and operates, which is designed to empower — and re-empower — women of all ages.
“The great thing about Alexis’ message is that it’s ‘What is your message?’ Her message is all about young women discovering what’s important to them, which is empowerment in its finest form,” Bell said. “I feel lucky to be friends with a woman like that.”
Especially since there was a time, not so long ago, when Bell could have used a friend like Alexis, and a website like IAmThatGirl. “I’ve been really terrified my whole life that no one would like me, so I’ve been something of a chameleon and made myself into what I think someone would want to see from me,” she said. “I came to realize how much time I wasted on being scared that no one would like me. It was all approval-seeking, and eventually, I realized the only approval I needed was my own.”
In addition to citing the positive influence that friends like Alexis have had on her self-image, Bell says that a large part of this new conscientiousness came from falling in love with Dax Shepard. “I’m married to a man who is extremely into self-worth coming from within. He is really not interested in what anyone else thinks — almost to a fault,” she said, laughing. “Falling in love and feeling fulfilled there made me look at all the other places in my life where I felt like I was chasing something and had to ask myself why.”
Her conclusion: “Young girls aren’t really taught to take the lead with their own happiness.”
That’s where Bell’s beliefs perfectly dovetail with Jones’. “I think we slighted a lot of girls [in the past] by trying to give them advice. And I love to give unsolicited advice, so I’m just as guilty,” Bell said with a laugh. “But something I’ve learned from Alexis is that people are their own best moral compass and introspection is something that is not encouraged enough today.”
“That’s why when my daughter draws a picture, I’m going to be conscientious to say both ‘I’m proud of you, this is beautiful,’ and ‘Are you proud of how beautiful this is?’ It’s a really tricky issue of semantics when kids grow up having been trained to seek approval from others. I would like to have the kind of household where seeking approval from yourself is just as important.”
Seeing as learning to love yourself is one of Frozen’s biggest moral lessons, Bell couldn’t be more elated the world has taken to the film like it has. Although, as she revealed, that wasn’t how the movie was initially conceived. “We scrapped the entire script 12 months in,” she said. “My character initially was written very, what I would call, prissy. She was very girly, [and] I kind of pushed more for something weirder. Something different. Something more unique and unlike anything we’d seen before.”
After a long back-and-forth, during which Bell said the producers and directors were incredibly collaborative, a wonderfully feminist film emerged, boasting a version of Princess Anna that Bell will be proud to show Lincoln one day.
“I never saw a Disney Princess that I identified with when I was growing up. They all had good posture, they all woke up batting their eyelashes, no one had bad breath; I couldn’t relate. I wanted to see someone that felt like me. So, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly explain how happy [the film’s success] makes me.”
With Frozen Oscar-bound, Bell is able to focus on her next professional project: Veronica Mars, the feature-film version of her beloved television series that is one of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories, the potential fan reaction to which is currently putting her stomach in knots.
“I’m praying and hoping that everyone enjoys it because it’s formatted a little differently [from the show],” she said. “But [show creator] Rob [Thomas] knows what he’s doing. He knows exactly what outfits to put Jason Dohring in to get the girls excited. Jason hates it, but I keep joking to him that we’re going to have to hand out fresh panties to every girl when she enters the theater.”
Fans of Logan and Veronica’s romance — referred to as LOVE by ‘shippers — undoubtedly just swooned over that last exchange, as it perfectly captures the playful dynamic that made Bell and Dohring’s on-screen chemistry so electric.
During a recent BuzzFeed interview, Dohring said that another reason for Veronica and Logan’s palpable connection was that much of the emotion fueling the character’s relationship was very real for him. “I think I was in love with [Kristen] for the three years we made that show,” he said. “Like, I truly felt like I would die without her, and I think that’s what underlined everything people loved about them as a couple.”
Bell appeared unfazed by Dohring’s emotional connection. “He obviously means the characters, but Jason is so wonderfully method, he really discovers the feelings behind his characters,” Bell said in response. “I’ll be honest, I phoned it in more times than I’d like to admit, but Jason is so present as an actor, there’s always an ease when you act with him. And I think that kind of adoration for your co-workers really helps the chemistry of a project. The whole project had this little bit of fairy dust on it.”
Which is why Bell is hoping the filming schedule on Showtime’s House of Lies affords her the opportunity to reunite with the cast for Rob Thomas’ untitled Veronica Mars spin-off web series, which will focus on Ryan Hansen’s “real”-life attempts to use the movie’s heat to get a series of his own.
“There was such a sense of family that permeated this entire project,” Bell said, “and we’ve all stayed incredibly close over the years, so I hope I can [participate].”
i know she and dax are on a lot of people's shitlist here but she's raising valid points imo