After a seven-year absence, private investigator Veronica Mars has returned, and she’s come to the big screen with the help of a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. In the film, Veronica (Kristen Bell) has come back to her seedy hometown of Neptune to help her old flame Logan (Jason Dohring), who has become the prime suspect in the homicide of his celebrity girlfriend. The film also stars Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Tina Majorino, Martin Starr, and Krysten Ritter.
At the press junket last week, I got the chance to talk with Kristen Bell about the film. During our conversation, we talked about the Kickstarter campaign, the character’s maturing, returning to play the role after a six-year absence, a show that’s off the air she’d like to see come back as a movie, and more. Hit the jump to check out the interview. Veronica Mars hits VOD and opens in theaters on March 14th. Click here to read my review.
KRISTEN BELL: I think both Rob and I wanted more Veronica Mars from the moment it was canceled. We were scheming as to how to get it back. A movie seemed realistic to both of us. Warner Bros. wanted to make one, but the reality is that they have to prove a sort of financial viability within their studio system, and they couldn’t see that there was a fanbase. I do a lot of interviews like this for my job, so in the last seven years, every journalist—almost every single journalist—has followed up my interviews with “Will there ever be a Veronica Mars movie?” I have the temperature of the fans at that point, because you’re job as a journalist is to ask what the readers want to know.
BELL: I knew the passion was out there, but we had to prove to Warner Bros. there was an audience, and we had to bring something to the table. Kickstarter ended up being the perfect way to do that. We wanted to basically pose the question to everyone, “Do you want to make this movie?” We didn’t want to force anyone to do anything. We just wanted to see if we could pre-sell the movie. And it was a long road and there were a lot of “Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes, No”, and we kept pushing forward, and somehow all worked out. And I think only Malcolm Gladwell can explain why it did.
Were you surprised by the speed of how quickly it hit that $2 million goal?
BELL: Yes. I’m very much an optimist, and I thought, “Guys! We can do $2 million in a month. Our fans can rally. It’s possible!” I had no idea we would $2 million two hours or would do triple that in 30 days. I was slackjawed, though in retrospect, our fans have always been radical. They’ve always proven to be more passionate than we ever expected them to be.
What was it like coming back to this character after six years?
BELL: Initially, I was nervous I wouldn’t feel as comfortable playing her because there’s always been something about Veronica that’s so easy for me. She lives in the same place that I live in. We’re very similar, me and Veronica. Jeannie on House of Lies is much harder for me to play. I’m acting when I’m doing that. But Veronica Mars wasn’t acting at all. I was kind of scared it would be harder for me; that it wouldn’t be so simple. But after the first scene, I realized how stupid it was for me to think that way because I just know this character inside and out.
BELL: No, because I don’t think there’s anything immature about fighting for the underdog and fighting for people who don’t have a voice. Veronica and I are similar in that way. I have an intense desire to protect people who can’t protect themselves, and so does Veronica. And I think in the beginning of the movie, Veronica has moved away from Neptune, and desiring less drama, more normalcy. Just to be regular. And in the first few minutes she realizes that’s just not who she’s supposed to be. So she accepts her true calling.
When there was the idea for a fourth season, Veronica was going to be an FBI agent. What were your thoughts on her going in that direction as opposed to a lawyer, which she turned out to be in this story?
BELL: I would say the FBI, for me, seems more realistic for Veronica, but I’m not the genius Rob Thomas is. He started this movie in a very specific way. He wanted the stakes to be high right off the bat, because he wanted the fans to want something right away. When they see her in New York living a simple life, every fan goes, “No way! Get her back to Neptune! What’s she doing? No way!” You’re immediately invested. In the FBI scenario, I felt was an accurate way to progress Veronica, but was also born from the note from the network that we probably weren’t getting picked up, and they were desiring a more adult show with more adult characters. They were trying to veer away from the teenage thing. So we said, “Great! We’ll age Veronica up by five years. You’ll have a show about 25-year-olds. How about that?” That was our last-ditch effort.
Are you a little frustrated because Veronica Mars just missed the cusp of online streaming and people being able to binge watch it and get hooked?
BELL: No, because I feel like they’ve still found it. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say they never even heard about it when it was on the air, and “I’ve binge-watched it for the last three weeks and I love it.” It’s impressive how people find this show. This is a show that for some reason people talk about it, and I think it’s because she is a good role model. She’s a girl I wish existed in real life.
The thing I really like about Veronica is that she’s complicated. I like that there’s something messed up about her. Do you feel those complications deepen when she returns to Neptune?
BELL: I think real humans are so complicated, and often people are written more one-dimensional without maybe even the writer knowing it. Rob is really, really interested in creating different dimensions in his characters. I think that’s why he’s such a good writer. But also, Veronica is this beautiful paradox of complete vulnerability and utmost confidence in any given moment. That’s very interesting to watch. It’s also very real. I’ve felt numerous moments in my life where my most confident moment and my most insecure moment were exactly the same time. So there’s nothing funny or interesting about perfection. Her flaws are what make her so easy to watch.
When you read the script, what were your thoughts on Veronica coming home to a much darker Neptune, a town that was even worse than when she left it?
BELL: The shit has hit the proverbial fan since she left, and I think when she comes back, she realizes her destiny has always been to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves, and the bad guys have taken over Neptune. What is the quote? “Evil only reigns when good men do nothing?” I think that is extremely applicable to Veronica. She hasn’t done anything in a while, and things have gone downhill, and she’s ready to get back on track.
Did you and Rob have discussions about her absence and why she would in the meantime turn away from helping others and focus on practicing law?
BELL: Yeah, and it wasn’t that in depth. I understood exactly what Rob was saying when he said, “She’s just fed up. She can’t do the drama any more.” Drama is draining, so it was easy for me to convince myself why Veronica had left. Because as the actor, you just have to believe in what your character is doing in order to play them. That’s the simplest way to say it. I understand why she left. She was living in a really dark world. She didn’t want to be around the crime or the drama any more. She wanted what she saw on TV, which was a nice, safe lifestyle. And I think she didn’t realize how boring that can be.
Is there a show that’s gone off the air that you’d like to see return as a movie?
BELL: Oh, wow. I wouldn’t mind a Quantum Leap movie. Right?
Maybe he gets back home.
BELL: That’s what I’m saying! It’s such a great premise. We’ll call Ziggy on that calculator. The whole thing.