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Kristen Bell Talks About ‘Astro Boy’

Astro BoyKristen Bell provides the voice of Cora in ‘Astro Boy.’

© 2009 Imagi Crystal Limited and Summit Entertainment, LLC

Kristen Bell’s not at all shy about the fact she’s a fan of animated movies, particularly the Disney animated movies she grew up watching. “I was obsessed with Aladdin, obsessed with The Little Mermaid,” revealed Bell at the LA press day for Summit Entertainment’s Astro Boy. “I mean, I kind of loved all those Disney movies and was very much on board with any of those. On TV, I was kind of a late [bloomer]. I mean, I was born in 1980 so the late ’80s was my prime, and I really liked DuckTales… Anybody? Okay? Darkwing Duck. Yes? TaleSpin. I don’t know why so many of them involved ducks, but I did like each and every one of those.”Bell was so into Disney’s animated musicals she even tried her hand at singing songs from the films. “I definitely remember…this is going to get weird,” warned Bell, laughing, “I remember watching The Little Mermaid and Aladdin and, I mean, so many others, but those were definitely my two favorites and deciding I’ve got to get me singing some of these songs on audio tape, and feeling like that was so necessary. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them, but there are somewhere tapes that exist of me with my tiny boom box when I was probably 10 or 11 next to the television singing along into the recorder. I just felt like I should have those on file in case I ever needed them. I hope they never surface. I hope my mother has misplaced them forever, but I definitely did that.”

Though she doesn’t get to sing in Astro Boy, as a fan of the genre Bell was absolutely ready to jump into voice work. Bell provides the voice of Cora, a young girl who befriends Astro Boy (voiced by Freddie Highmore) on Earth after he’s cast out of the floating Metro City, in the animated big screen adaptation of popular Osamu Tezuka manga that debuted in 1951. “I read Astro Boy and liked it so much,” explained Bell about the appeal of the project. “I had always known the name in my head and knew that it was a character from somewhere, but didn’t really understand how iconic it was overseas and how influential this character had been from the first in so many people’s lives in the television show in the ’50s and in the ’80s. It was all just a learning experience for me about what a cool cat he was and how sort of timeless the story was, you know? There’s a reason that they want to remake it because it’s just a very relatable, attainable story for everyone.”

Cora and her friends are new characters to the Astro Boy mythology, and central figures in this film version of the Japanese comic book. “I purposefully didn’t familiarize myself with [the source material] because I was playing a new character, because I didn’t want to know too much about Astro, in particular, going in because the story for me, from my perspective, is about Cora and Astro getting to know each other. But I do feel like it provides a little bit more of a female perspective in the film, a little bit more estrogen, if you will. And, you know, it’s a great way to show a friendship that Astro builds and this sort of betrayal that happens in that friendship, if you can even call it that, and the sort of rocky road that eventually leads them to realizing that they’re true friends in the end,” offered Bell.

Although her character and Astro Boy interact in the film, Bell had only one opportunity to work with Highmore during the voice sessions. The rest she did without any of her fellow Astro Boy voice actors. “I think I relied a lot on David [Bowers], our director, who I think had such a great take on the film,” said Bell. “It was like his heart and his soul, and he put so much effort into this and I think he created a beautiful movie, but also seamlessly integrated all of us into this movie, acting as though we were having real conversations when we were in fact recording separately. I recorded once with Freddie for a very short time, and I think the rest of it is due to David’s brilliance in allowing us to play around but also getting all the different levels he needed and then matching the conversations up perfectly so that it seemed as though we were doing it together.”

Bell joked that most of the time she came to the recording sessions in her pajamas, but she was filmed delivering some of her lines in order to incorporate her facial movements into the character. “There were a few moments I caught,” said Bell when asked if she could she herself in Cora. “A few moments. It’s different because Cora, she has dark hair, so it’s more difficult for me to envision than if she was a blonde. I don’t know why. But I think one thing that I loved is that I was actually able to take myself out of it and watch it as an audience member, which I think speaks to how good the film is because normally – I can only speak for myself – but I imagine any actor that watches themselves is usually deconstructing their performance, as I am, and criticizing themselves, or just saying, ‘I always sound so stupid,’ or whatever. But I was really able to take a step back and enjoy the film. I even cried at the end, and I knew what was going to happen and I still cried.”

Kristen Bell’s Upcoming Projects

Being that she was such a Disney fan as a kid, it’s only appropriate that two of her upcoming movies are Disney projects. “When In Rome, I was lucky enough that Disney allowed me to put it on my shoulders when I had never really carried a role like that,” said Bell. “We’ll see how it does in January. But it was a great experience and they were very good to me and gave me every reason to work with them again on You Again.”

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October 23, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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