With Frozen 2 now playing in theaters, I recently sat down with Kristen Bell to talk about making the highly anticipated sequel. During the wide-ranging conversation, Bell revealed when she knew they were going to make the film, how the film originally opened with a different song and why it was changed, what it will take to get the cast to perform all the Frozen music on tour, how the film pushes away from the norm by not having a “villain” and instead features the main characters grappling with their own growth and change, why the film is an incredible source of pride for her as a mom, why she loves the way Kristoff’s represented in this movie, and a lot more. In addition, she talks about why she thinks The Good Place series finale ending is satisfying.
As most of you know, directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck and produced by Peter Del Vecho, Frozen 2 takes Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Olaf (Josh Gad) on an all-new adventure that finds Anna and Elsa investigating the truth behind their parents—and possibly Elsa’s powers. The sequel also features the voices of Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Ciarán Hinds, Jeremy Sisto, Alan Tudyk, and Rachel Matthews.
Check out what Kristen Bell had to say below.
COLLIDER: What number day is this for press on this movie? Do you know where you are?
KRISTEN BELL: Um, I think I know I am at a hotel. This is day… I don’t know, somewhere in the six weeks zone, five weeks zone? But we traveled to Toronto and that last week, that was adventurous, because I forgot my passport and we were coming from Nashville where my husband was doing a live show for his podcast and I packed like a champ for the whole family, but mommy forgot her passport. So I flew from Nashville to Atlanta to Buffalo and drove across the border with my license. Landed in Toronto at the hotel at 2:45 in the morning and we started at six so that threw me for a loop.
I have to ask: you’re semi well-known. Can you not just go to the airport and say, “Hey, it’s me”?
BELL: No. Because, you’d think because the goal is for them to know who you are and that you’re safe. But I guess they know who I am publicly, but they don’t know if I’m crazy. So it’s got to be, you either have to have global entry, or actually your passport, and I forgot. But that threw me for a loop with no sleep there. But we were in Toronto and then shot Crosswalk the Musical and then did Ellen and Kimmel and then the premiere and then the press days. And then we’ll be in New York next week.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, you guys went to Disneyland last night.
BELL: We did. We flew on a helicopter to Disneyland because time is, it’s not there.
Listen, the traffic to get to and from… if Disneyland was closer I would go way more often.
BELL: Agreed. But it took 12 minutes and we went on a helicopter.
BELL: And it was the first day of the holidays at Disneyland. So we lit the Christmas tree.
I saw some video of this. I don’t think anyone there knew you guys were coming out.
BELL: No, it was a surprise.
When you’re at Disneyland and you’re part of this film, it has to be the closest you’re going to be to being a rock star.
BELL: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Although I think you come to expect some surprises at Disneyland because you go there to feel the magic, you go there to feel like a kid, and it’s just, it’s extra exciting that, we, that Disney encouraged us to take the time and say “This might not be the biggest press event we’ll do, but it’ll make a whole lot of people happy. And it’s the first day of the holidays. Let’s show up.”
Do you have a favorite ride at Disneyland?
BELL: In my old age, my equilibrium has died. I said goodbye to it a long time ago. So I used to love any ride with a drop, but now I really prefer Small World. It’s so lovely and it’s beautiful when they dress it up for the holidays.
I cannot do the rollercoasters anymore.
BELL: I wish I could. I want to and then I get on and I just feel like I’m going to puke.
Have you gotten a Disneyland passport for life yet?
BELL: No, no. It’s a different leg of the company. Believe me, I’m trying.
That should have been a rider in the contract.
BELL: Agreed. It was a big mistake.
I mean, seriously…
BELL: Big mistake.
I don’t want to say anything about your agents but they should be fired.
BELL: It was a huge mistake. We’re looking into it.
Right? Yeah. Platinum for life.
BELL: I mean, honestly.
Being serious, even if this movie makes $5 at the box office, it is going to make billions for Disneyland.
BELL: Well, I can understand why I couldn’t get across the border without a passport. I’m struggling to understand why they won’t let me into Disneyland without a ticket.
The end of this interview will lead to hopefully a Disneyland pass for life.
BELL: I hope so.
Jumping into serious questions now. This movie was announced a little over four and a half years ago. When did you actually find out that the sequel was going to be made?
BELL: A little over five. About a year after the movie came out, we all felt it. Because we know a fair amount of the business side of this industry, which is if you sell a lot of tickets, that means there’s an audience. Chances are the studio will want to do another one. But Disney has never made a sequel to a musical animated movie ever. I think that was because before he died, Walt said, “no, we don’t do sequels.” So this, it was a big thing for them to announce a sequel, because they’d done straight to DVD sequels, but never in a theater. So it was kind of groundbreaking, and we felt it coming. And then we had a couple of performances in between the first movie coming out and working on the second movie. So we never lost touch. And I feel like that people are like, “wow, it’s been six years. What does it feel like coming back?” It never left. I’ve always been in Arendelle.
BELL: I’m going to die in Arendelle.
With this sequel, did you end up recording songs that did not make the finished film?
BELL: I always do.
And which is the one song that you really wish would have made the final cut?
BELL: Well there was… the opening of the movie has a song called “Some Things Never Change.” And in the original opening of the movie, I sang a song called “Home”, but it was just me. And when we watched it, it didn’t feel right that you didn’t see the rest of the characters. And you can tell. “Home” is a brilliant song, I love it. It’s about Anna talking about how much she loves her home. Because obviously this movie is about, something threatens Arendelle. And we wanted to set up how great Arendelle was, and how great the castle was and home was. So that was a bummer. But the real heartache, Jonathan Groff and I recorded a song early, early on, when we were trying to figure out how to tell the story of Anna and Kristoff. There is a song called “I Want to Get This Right”. That was mainly Jonathan. But I came in at the end, and it was a spectacular swingy rock ballad song and it was so much fun to record and I died a little death when they let that go. But, only to be surprised and excited knowing that they wrote “Lost in the Woods”, which I think is one of my favorite songs in the whole movie. And Jonathan’s execution of it is so funny. He plays it so sincere and the animators really made a ton of jokes for the adults in it. “Lost in the Woods” is going to definitely be an adult fan favorite.
It was, last night.
BELL: Can you believe it? When he’s with the microphone and the pine cone…
Let’s just say the adults in the theater were laughing hard. At what point will all of you go on tour, and play the Hollywood Bowl and other places, where you play not only the songs from the movies, but the songs that didn’t make the movies?
BELL: I keep a song that was cut from the first one. That is, I think my favorite of all of them is called “More Than Just a Spare” that was Anna’s original “I Want” song, and it comes after she hears someone in the town say, “Don’t worry about that sister, she’s just the spare sister.” And she sings this incredibly optimistic song, where the lyrics are, “So I’m a rusty horseshoe hanging up over somebody’s old barn door, but I’ll be hanging there forever just wishing that horse had one leg more”, and it’s incredibly optimistic and it shows you who she is. And in the end, it didn’t work with the whole film, but I sing that at like charity events or any place where I’m invited to sing. I’ll pull that out of my back pocket.
So it’s great, actually, to have some songs that have been cut, because it’s exciting for an audience when they hear “this is actually a song that was cut from ‘Frozen’”. We have talked about doing some sort of live performance, maybe at the Hollywood Bowl, where we perform all the songs from ‘Frozen 1’, all the songs from ‘Frozen 2,’ and all the cut songs.
I don’t think Hollywood Bowl’s going to cut it, because the demand for tickets for that would be so huge.
BELL: What theater?
You’d have to go on tour.
BELL: Oh, on tour.
Do New York, LA…
BELL: What’s the biggest theater in the world?
I don’t know.
BELL: The Coliseum.
One of those stadiums.
BELL: We’re going to play The Coliseum,
But imagine the demand to see all that live.
BELL: Well, hopefully if we follow through with the planning, we would tape it so that people could have access to it on television somewhere. Maybe Disney Plus would air it. But it would be nice to… all four of us are theater babies and we get along so well. It’s really, really, really fun to perform together. And we don’t do it very often. So it’s such a joy to do it, and we love getting on stage. So we would obviously like to throw it out to as many people as possible by taping the whole damn thing.
I asked Kristen and Bobby what show would they like to guest do a musical on. And immediately they said “The Good Place.”
BELL: Big Good Place fans.
How many years will it take to find a way to do a musical episode of The Good Place? Because that reality feels like you could do a musical.
BELL: It does. It does.
Bobby also said it could be on Broadway.
BELL: Now we could do a Good Place Broadway musical for sure, but I think The Good Place Broadway musical would be very long [way off]. Because… Mike Schur is the most ethical man on the planet, and when he found the ending for the show, he knew we had to do it because it was incredibly worthy. It’s an incredibly worthy ending. We were all disappointed that the show would be over, but it did feel like the right thing to do. I don’t know that the show will ever come back ever, because the ending is satisfying. It’s a variety of things. It’s also a punch to the gut, but it is satisfying and it feels like that’s where the story ends.
I understand what you’re saying and I will accept it. But at the same time, the whole musical thing might have been…
BELL: Missed Opportunity.
I’m curious about the merch. What’s your favorite thing that that was produced for either the first or second film, and do they send you like one of everything?
Again, agent fired.
BELL: The first one, when it came out in 2013? Yeah? Sound about right? I remember my daughter was really young so she didn’t see it, but Josh’s daughters were a little older and I remember him saying he couldn’t get an Elsa dress. And he called Bob Iger and said, “Can I get an Elsa dress?” And Bob said, “Sorry Josh, we are all out, I literally just ordered the last one from a store in Hawaii.” And I remember hearing that… normally… if they’re made overseas they ship them [to America] on a boat, and those boats didn’t go fast enough. So they started planing [flying] merchandise in for the Christmas season, and that was a crazy statistic. That was a crazy fact for me to learn. No, I don’t get a lot. I do have… there’s a special Anna doll that’s very artisan, you’d say. It’s one of the higher end Anna dolls. And I was given [it] after the first one. They only made, I think about a thousand of them, and it says at the bottom “one of a thousand,” and that’s coveted for me. I keep it at the top of my kids’ closet and they know they’re not allowed to touch it and they are still furious. They’re like, “It’s a toy. I can touch it.” And I was like, “Don’t you ever open this box ever.”
Right. That could be their college fund.
BELL: Honestly, they don’t get it. They don’t get it.
Kids. One of my favorite parts of the sequel is that it doesn’t have a villain. It’s not about a villain coming in to try to steal Elsa’s powers or to come between the sisters. It’s about their relationship and life, if you will. Can you talk about that aspect of the movie?
BELL: Yeah. Well life is not black and white, right? It’s mostly gray, and people are perceived as villainous when sometimes you might not know the whole story. That’s an incredibly common occurrence among humans, and the easy road, the cheap road is to make a villain. And Elsa was initially written as a villain, because [Frozen] is based on Anna and the Snow Queen, the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale where she’s more of a villain. And it was very early on and they realized, our creative team, that Elsa had so much more depth, she was misunderstood. And she was this paradox of someone who felt vulnerable and shy and also incredibly powerful at the same time. And they rode that wave in writing a movie, with the first one showing complex problems in a children’s film. I think we all believe that kids aren’t given enough credit with what they can digest, with the complexity of messaging that they can understand and the suffering that they can identify with.
So I think that’s why people identify with Elsa, because a lot of people often feel like two different things at once. And with the second one, we wanted to retain that sort of integrity of story where there were no easy outs, that people are gray and complex and sometimes just different. And whereas the first one broke a mold because we were talking about familial love and self-love, which personally I believe are more important than romantic love. If you don’t have self love or familial love, it’s going to be hard to even know what romantic love is. Right?
BELL: There are stages of love, and it is an incredible source of pride for me as a mom that I was a part of a project that my children can watch and be exposed to messages like that.
In the second one, it feels as if the girls are a little bit more grown up and it’s the first time they’ve left the nest. It’s like when you go off to college. You know who you are at home. You’ve worked out your problems between the four walls and the people that live with you. Who are you in the world? How do you handle yourself out there? And each character has a pretty incredible development that is all, again, breaking a mold of some sort. Elsa is hearing a voice and trying to decide whether she belongs here. She now loves it in Arendelle, but does she belong? Does it feel right? Anna is dealing with her codependency and her song “Next Right Thing” is a perfect example of that. Anna lives for everyone else and that’s great and you can look at that as a favorable and you can pat her on the back for it, but there’s pain that comes with that and co-dependents need to deal with their issues as well.
And I wanted on a struggle with the question of what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Cause I asked myself that all the time and my mantra is you just do the next right thing when I’m feeling anxious and depressed and don’t want to get out of bed. The next right thing is just walking to the bathroom. The next right thing is brushing my teeth. The next right thing is eating some breakfast. It’s step-by-step, right? It’s very AA. I’m thrilled to be honest, with the way Kristoff’s represented in this movie. That’s one of the most important things to me. There’s a great line that he has in the beginning of “Lost in the Woods” where he says you feel your feelings and your feelings are real.
How often have you seen a male character in animation have an “I Want” song? Have a song about yearning? Like, never. And also, you often see a girl pining for a guy. You don’t ever see a fumbling guy pining for a girl because he’s really, really massively in love with her and doesn’t know how to talk about his feelings. And there are some lines – and they’re so small, but they’re to me, they are so deep – he has a line where he rescues Anna towards the middle of the movie, and he sweeps her up and he doesn’t immediately take over and start fighting for her. He sweeps her up, he looks at her and he says, “I’m here. What do you need?” Which blew my mind.
And then, there’s also a line where Anna apologizes to him in the end, and he said, “It’s okay. My love is not fragile.” And I just think those are incredibly honest, emotional moments that you’re seeing from a man in an animated movie. It’s just a beautiful example. And I hope that people will see that as the beautiful example it is, and feel more comfortable about their open and honest feelings.
I completely agree. And I think that is one of the reasons why this movie is going to be loved by so many people.
BELL: I hope so. We’re pretty proud of it.