The 35-year-old Bell wrote, directed and starred in her own
independent movie "In a World..." in 2013, winning critical
praise for her comic look into the rarefied world of voice over
artists. "It changed my life," she says of the experience.
Now Bell stars opposite "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm in the Walt
Disney Co feel-good sports drama "Million Dollar Arm" opening in
U.S. theaters on Friday. She plays Brenda the neighbor and
doctor who helps sports agent J.B. Bernstein in his improbable
quest to train two baseball pitchers from India.
Much to her disappointment, Bell didn't get to go to India to
film. But she did get to talk to Reuters about what it's like to
work in her first Disney film, how it is thankfully lacking in a
"weird boob scene," and what it's like working with Hamm (a
question she clearly gets a lot these days).
Q: Is directing and starring in your own independent film
and then going to a Disney movie quite a unique transition?
A: It is. But I had a great experience. If anything it
was refreshing to be in the hands of the very capable director
Craig (Gillespie). And Disney, I have never worked for Disney
before but it was a tremendous experience. And Jon is a really
good friend of mine.
As a writer-director, I like being on other people's sets. I am
an actor first and foremost and I think being an actor for hire
is how I learn, seeing other people's sets ... Especially with
this movie having sports elements, I've never seen anything like
that. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to India.
Q: You get to play the bridge between the young Indian
men and the prototype- American sports agent.
A: I play the literal girl next door who is somewhat
irrelevant initially and then becomes incredibly relevant in
suturing that relationship between J.B. and Rinku and Dinesh.
J.B. is kind of going down this straightaway of trying to find
monetary gain from these investments he has brought back and he,
with the help of my character, gets punched in the proverbial
gut...'Hey check it out. This is so much more than monetary gain
and the only way these boys will find success is if you respect
that they are going through an emotional journey as well.'
Q: What did you like about the character of Brenda?
A: I enjoy Brenda's utter steadfast truth and her ability
to express herself via tough love, which is something I relate
to deeply in my own life.
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Q: It is such a cliche question, but millions of women would
probably want to know what it's like playing opposite Jon Hamm.
A: How do I answer that in a new way? Jon and I are good
friends. We have known each other for a long time. He comes on
(satirical TV series) 'Children's Hospital' occasionally as a
recurring, so he is very playful and fun. He is really goofy and
hilarious and people probably know that somewhat from his SNL
career... But he really is a comedy fan and great comedy player.
In this film, he plays the straight man to a lot of
fish-out-of-water elements, which I think is incredibly difficult
and takes a comedic brain to know how to play the straight man with
Q: Some might say you are a knockout, but in your film and
this film you play somewhat disheveled, messy women.
A: I really enjoy playing characters who are realistically
put together, from "In a World...," playing Carol, the character I
wrote for myself to depict, to Brenda who lives her life in scrubs
I don't walk around in stilettos and fancy dress all the time.
That's just not my life and I don't feel comfortable that way. I
enjoy playing characters I can relate to personally who aren't 'glam
squad' all the time. 'Glam squad' is fun sometimes, but I feel like
I can breath a bit better in a character that speaks truth in her
Q: This might be your most high-profile role and a lot of
people may get to know you with this role, right?
A: It's interesting to think about it that way. Because itís
Disney, it's a very universally acceptable film for a lot of
different demographics. This is the first time I am in a film I can
say to any family member to go and check it out and I am not
embarrassed by some weird boob scene or something. It's safe.
It is incredibly sweet and it's relatable for young relatives, older
relatives and everything in between. That, for me, is a big deal.
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Walsh)
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