Name a hot TV series these days and it seems that Kristen Bell is somehow associated with it: She’s the voice-over narrator for Gossip Girl and was allowed to crash the Heroes party because the show’s writers so loved her as the title character in the teen-detective series Veronica Mars. Right now, however, Bell is singing the praises of her new comedy, the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In it, she plays a television star shuttling between two guys. Despite the glamour, she’s not about to shed the offbeat reputation she’s known for offscreen-a reputation she shares with her interviewer, Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody.
Diablo Cody: You went to school in New York, didn’t you?
Kristen Bell: Guilty.
DC: How do you feel about living in Los Angeles?
KB: I would absolutely identify as a New Yorker by nature. I grew up in Detroit. There was not a bone in my body that even considered staying in Detroit for the rest of my life. As for NewYork: I love public transportation, I love street performers, I love the melting-pot aspect of the city. I don’t dislike Los Angeles. I think the irony of my living out here is that I am the one and only person who does not appreciate the weather. I’ve lived here for almost six years and I’ve been to the beach maybe 10 times.
DC: I haven’t seen the ocean in a long time.
KB: When it’s a beautiful bright Los Angeles day, I feel like, Oh my God, I’m never gonna live up to the expectations [people have] of me today.
DC: I like that you see the sun as pressure. [laughs] I can segue neatly from the New York thing to your musical-theater background. You have an awesome voice.
KB: Thanks, dude.
DC: If you could play your ultimate role in a musical, what would it be?
KB: In about 50 years, I really want to make What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  into a musical, and have it be my last hurrah as a performer.
DC: Oh, my God! [laughs]
KB: I want that to be a straight-up musical-maybe even an ironic musical comedy in the vein of Reefer Madness .
DC: I like that you already have that planned.
KB: And the funny thing is that I’m not a planner. I have no idea what I want to do in the interim of that 50 years, but I tell ya: That’s where you’ll find me in my last performance.
DC: Would you be Baby Jane or her sister?
KB: Oh, I’d be Baby Jane, hands down. She is a lunatic and I love it.
DC: When you said that this is a role you would not be able to take on for 50 years, I was totally thinking: Golden Girls musical.
KB: I’d be open to that.
DC: All right, so I know that you’re an animal lover. I associate you with animals in a really weird, oblique way, because I have great memories of watching Veronica Mars with my dog, Barnabus. And Barnabus just loved the show. But tell me about your dogs.
KB: I have three dogs whom I treat like my children. One is a Katrina rescue dog whose name is Sadie. She has no teeth, one ear, and breathes like Darth Vader. She has no concept of what’s food and what’s not. The other day, on set, she ate a box of pecan cookies, a bag of sunflower seeds, a bag of Craisins, and an entire bag-foil included-of Hershey’s Kisses.
DC: Oh, no! [laughs]
KB: It was a little scary because of the chocolate thing. She pooped sunflower seeds and tinfoil
for a week.
DC: I’m sure the Craisins got the mail moving, too, if you know what I’m saying.
KB: Oh, absolutely. [laughs] I also have two little Corgi mutts that I rescued. I have a little dog farm.
DC: That’s fabulous. I want to ask about your new movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
KB: Do it.
DC: You were shooting in Hawaii with the boys.
KB: I was trapped in paradise for 2½ months, being forced to get into peak condition. We had to get there 2½ weeks early, and all four of us had to work out and do yoga because nobody really wants to see a bunch of sloppy people running around in bathing suits.
DC: Was the movie a new experience for you, actingwise-the straight-comedy, improvisational nature of it?
KB: Absolutely. It was something I’ve always secretly dreamed about, yet I don’t know that I had the confidence to speak of it. Our director, Judd Apatow, has created a style of moviemaking in which 75 percent of it is improv. And it really keeps you on your toes.
DC: Back to the bathing suits. I was curious about it, not because you have any problems in that department, but because when I saw the Forgetting Sarah Marshall trailer, I was thinking to myself, I would break out in hives if I had to be in a bikini that much.
KB: I was supernervous, but I think that everybody is scantily clad, so we kind of all went into it together. I don’t think that I’m modest by any means, but I’m also not an exhibitionist. Since we’re talking about bodies, do you want to hear a hysterical little anecdote?
DC: Let it rip.
KB: I went out on a date once with a guy, and we were swimming or in the hot tub or something. He looked down at my boobs. In an attempt to make a joke out of it and call him out at the same time, I said, “Oh, what? Are you looking at my fake tits?” And he sort of blushed. It wasn’t until three months later that he actually admitted that he had thought that I had had breast implants.
DC: It was definitely a compliment in terms of fullness and firmness and uplift.
KB: He said he was going on perkiness alone. He said, “I couldn’t figure out how you had them done. I thought that maybe they went in through your navel.”
DC: I wish somebody would tell me that they thought I had liposuction. That would be a shining moment for me. [Bell laughs] Okay, on to Heroes. I may be the only self-respecting geek in America who has never seen the show. I don’t want to jump in midstream and have no idea what’s going on.
KB: It’s worth catching up on. I rarely watch television, but I was so impressed by it. I think it was one of the best full first seasons ever done on television.
DC: It’s gotta be supercrazy surreal doing what you did-joining the cast after the show -started.
KB: It was so dreamy. Because Heroes was the watercooler conversation at Veronica Mars, and after meeting with the writers and talking about joining the show, they admitted that Veronica Mars was the watercooler conversation at Heroes. Our writers were obsessed with each other, so I thought that was amazing serendipity.
DC: With a series like Lost or Heroes, do they tell the actors what’s going to happen later in the season? Or is every script a surprise?
KB: There’s a funny brownnosing game that goes on when the writers come on set. I think all the actors are trying to weasel their way in, to figure out plotlines. It’s like Big Brother: All the actors are trying to get to the information before the others. I think that if you can butter writers up enough, they might give you a little.
DC: They better not hire me then.
DC: I could be easily buttered. [Bell laughs] Let’s return to your life story: Do you have an early memory of performing?
KB: I was never a hammy child. But I could make people laugh. My mother noticed that, and in an attempt to be supportive, she got information about a local community-theater children’s production. I was probably 12. For the audition, I memorized a Shel Silverstein poem.
DC: Which one was it?
KB: I don’t even remember. I remember the play was about Raggedy Ann and Andy.
DC: That was a play?
KB: Oh, yeah, my friend: It was a musical. I had the very complex dual role of playing a banana in the first act and a tree in the second act.
DC: That’s a major costume change.
KB: They knew I could handle it.