The stunning transformation of Kristen Bell

When it comes to Kristen Bell, what's not to love? The actress has helmed some of the most beloved films and television shows out there, from Veronica Mars to Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Frozen to The Good Place. She's also played Kiki in the Bad Moms films, and she was the ever-present narrator in Gossip Girl, showcasing her voice acting talent. On top of that, Bell has been candid about some seriously intimate topics in her personal life, rendering her one of the more relatable celebs out there.

As famous and well-liked as she is, the Michigan-born Bell wasn't always a member of the Hollywood elite. Rather, Bell has an origin story as humble and normal as anyone else, something that's obviously stuck with her as she's ascended through the ranks of Tinseltown. So what was Bell like as a child in the '80s? How did she break into the entertainment business and become the star she is today? And what's her marriage to fellow actor Dax Shepard really like? Read on to witness the stunning transformation of Kristen Bell.

Divorce didn't have a damaging impact on Kristen Bell

When Kristen bell was only 2 years old, her parents decided to get a divorce. While this can often be extremely traumatic for young children, for Bell, it didn't prevent her from having an extremely happy childhood with her four half-siblings and two step-siblings. Rather, she perceived the situation as "just having more people who loved me," she explained in an interview with You Magazine. "I'm a positive person," she shared. "When I was 16, if I was in a fight with my mum, I would drive to my dad's and vice versa, which was amazing!" That's a healthy takeaway from a potentially damaging situation, for sure!

In addition to being a generally happy child, Bell was also quite the gifted mimic, according to an interview with The Guardian. From a young age, she would memorize show tunes, funny accents, and entire television commercials, repeating them back for the amusement of others. So her predisposition to comedic antics and performance was pretty much in her DNA.

Kristen Bell was a child model

One of Kristen Bell's favorite childhood activities was sports, specifically baseball. In fact, she even played on a boys' baseball team, which understandably demanded a bit of camouflage. So to help Bell blend in, her mother gave her a boyish haircut. "I was pretty scrappy," she explained on The Late Late Show with James Corden. "My mother made sure that I would not take any flak from anybody because she gave me a real disastrous sort of haircut." Indeed the haircut worked, as boys never gave her a problem and she had no trouble fitting in — nothing disastrous about that!

Bell was also small and cute with bright blue eyes and a big smile. So to help her single mother earn extra money, she started modeling for advertisements that would appear in the local newspaper when she was a tween. "Every now and then, someone would bring a circular to school and be like, 'Is this you? Ew,'" she revealed in an interview with The Guardian. "Kmart underwear and training bras was particularly embarrassing."

Kristen Bell was a late bloomer

When it came time for high school, Kristen Bell's Christian mother enrolled her in Catholic school, where she was exposed to homophobia — something she never understood. "Definitely, people in my community had the same idea about lifestyles they were unfamiliar with, but I never had a point where I remember going, 'Oh, being gay is OK," she shared in an interview with The Guardian. "I was always like, 'What are you talking about?'" Our girl was accepting out of the gate!

Bell also developed later on in her adolescence, which meant she wasn't worried about first kisses and boyfriends like some of her peers. "I was a very late bloomer — I didn't even go through puberty until I was 17 — so my interest to hang out with guys was never about sexual exploration," she recalled in an interview with Men's Journal. "I just wanted to hang out and talk about hockey. There was no Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise for me, only Red Wings players like Darren McCarty, Steve Yzerman, and Kris Draper."

Kristen Bell had her big break on Veronica Mars

After high school, Kristen Bell headed to New York City to study at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. But since she got cast in Broadway shows before graduation, she dropped out before finishing. Then in 2004, she got her big break when she was cast in Veronica Mars as the titular heroine, beating out 700 other girls for the role. "I came prepared as f**k to that audition," she proclaimed in an interview with Refinery29. "I came prepared for the call back. I came prepared for the test. I sat by the phone waiting." No wonder she got the role.

And while it feels like no one else could ever be Veronica Mars, Bell acknowledges she wasn't in control of the casting. "Yeah, it worked out great," she continued. "But to think I had much choice … I think it's misleading to talk about anyone's life, maybe other than Tom Cruise, in terms of anyone being in charge."

Bell later reprised the role of Veronica Mars in the beloved franchise's fourth season in 2019, much to the delight of fans.

Kristen Bell hustled her way onto Gossip Girl

Despite the fact that Veronica Mars was beloved by its fans, the show was cancelled in 2007 after being on the air for three years. That meant that Kristen Bell was officially out of work, and needed to find a new gig — so she picked up the phone. "I'm very proactive with my career," she explained in an interview with Cosmopolitan. "And when I heard about Gossip Girl, I called someone at the network and asked if I could do something on it. At that time, I didn't have a job, and I'm not some idiot who just wants to hang out in L.A. — I want to work."

Bell's efforts paid off, as she was then cast as the omniscient narrator in the series, the "one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite." It was a pretty cushy job, too, as she only had to work for two hours per month recording the voice-overs, which she did while wearing her pajamas. Talk about a dream job! 

Anna in Frozen was different before Kristen Bell was cast

One of Kristen Bell's most celebrated roles was that of Anna in Frozen, the wildly popular animated film from Pixar released in 2013. However, when Bell was first offered the role, she rejected it because of the way it was written. "We had a completely different script when I signed on," she revealed in an interview with Good Housekeeping. "My character was very princess-y, very entitled, and the sisters Anna and Elsa were enemies." And that was not something Bell wanted to be a part of.

So Bell had some conversations with the filmmakers, and she convinced them to make some significant changes to her character. "Once we got to the dynamic of making Elsa misunderstood and different, and having Anna refuse to believe her sister did anything wrong, it felt right," she continued. "It's a story about sisterhood, which, whether by blood or not, is this invisible line that pulls you to someone." So it's partly thanks to Bell that Frozen is such a fantastic movie for girls and women, instead of just another catty competition. Thanks, Kristen!

Kristen Bell has been an open book about her marriage

Whether it's talking about monogamy, couple's counseling, fighting, or parenting, Kristen Bell has been an open book on multiple occasions about her marriage to actor Dax Shepard. The couple married in 2013 in a famously low-key wedding, and they have been happy together ever since, as noted by People. Although the pair always looks like they're completely blissed out, they had to do a lot of work to get where they are, as they used to fight constantly. "I would slam the door to the room we were in, slam the door of the house, slam the car door and drive around the corner, before cooling off," Bell confessed in an interview with You Magazine.

In order to calm things down, the couple saw a therapist to learn how to be better to one another. "We still fight, but don't take disagreements to heart," she continued. "I know he's on my team. If you have a long marriage that thrives without therapy, please call me because you are a unicorn!"

Having children was "unmissable" for Kristen Bell

In 2013, Kristen Bell became a mother for the first time and then a second time in 2014. Interestingly enough, however, Bell wasn't always certain that she wanted to have children. "Before we had the girls, I asked a few people in my life who are annoyingly blunt and honest on every level if we should, knowing that if it wasn't worth it, they'd have the balls to say, 'Listen, don't. Live your life,'" she recalled in an interview with Good Housekeeping"But across the board, everyone said it was unmissable." So she and her husband decided to start a family together.

When her first daughter arrived, Bell wasn't quite sure what to do, which is an understandable predicament for any new mother. "But when I started breast-feeding, the oxytocin or my hormones or hundreds of thousands of years of evolution kicked in. I didn't want to let her go," she continued. "Having kids feels like that first seventh-grade crush that overwhelms every molecule in your body, but it's permanent." 

Baby weight was not a huge issue for Kristen Bell

Anyone who's ever been pregnant and given birth can tell you that the process changes your body in dramatic ways, including weight gain. To that end, Kristen Bell shared that she had some work to do to return to her pre-baby weight, but she wasn't stressed out about it. "I'm going to let it come off naturally," she explained in a 2015 interview with Good Housekeeping. "I'll work out and eat healthy, but I'm not desperate to shed the weight."

That's a refreshingly healthy perspective, especially given the standards women are held to in Hollywood. But Bell really does have her priorities straight. "Body image is what you make of it," she continued. "I refuse to compare myself to anyone anymore. I've done it; it didn't make me feel good. I don't like comparison hangovers." Louder again for the people in the back, Kristen!

Kristen Bell is confident about her career

Once upon a time, Kristen Bell did whatever she had to do to make sure she'd have work. But ever since she became a mother, Bell has been a lot less anxious about landing the next job than she used to be. "I'm not frantic about my career anymore," she confessed in an interview with Good HousekeepingShe continued, "I've gotten off that treadmill of Let me read the next script; I hope they give me a chance for this part." Given all of the amazing roles she's landed, it's no wonder she's more relaxed! Our girl is in demand.

That doesn't mean that Bell is thinking about retirement, or that she plans to slow down. Rather, it's just that her priorities have shifted. "I still want to do really good, creative work, but I'm not nervous about it," she continued. "I get my self-esteem from [providing for] my children now. The girls need us, and feeling needed is a good feeling."

Depression and anxiety? Kristen Bell has dealt with both

Although Kristen Bell seems like she's a literal ray of sunshine, she's dealt with depression and anxiety for her entire life. "I present this very cheery, bubbly person, but I also do a lot of work … a lot of introspective work," she revealed in a 2016 interview on The Off Camera Show. She also noted, "I shatter a little bit when I think people don't like me."

As it turns out, Bell has a history of mental health troubles in her family, something her mother taught her about early on. "[She] said, 'If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here's how you can help yourself,'" she continued. That's the reason Bell went on medication when she was younger.

Bell compares her need for medication to a diabetic's need for insulin. "It's a very interesting double standard that I don't often have the ability to talk about but I certainly feel no shame about," she added. Preach, Kristen!

Kristen Bell is in a Good Place

It's never easy when your favorite series has to wrap, especially if it's cancelled before all of the loose ends are tied up. The same holds true for actors, as Kristen Bell had a pretty emotional response when she learned that The Good Place would end in 2020 after four seasons. "We've known for a year, so it's been an interesting way to process a long-term creative endeavor coming to an end," she shared in an interview with Collider. "Normally, when a show ends, it's canceled months after you've wrapped, and there's this feeling that something's been taken from you, or stolen from you, because you've been told that you can't come back."

While it hasn't been easy to say goodbye to The Good Place for Bell, she's at peace with it because of the way the series ends. "This was a collective agreement that we made to end the show because Mike Schur found the perfect ending," she continued. "It's also deeply, deeply meaningful. I don't think anyone will see it coming." If only every show could end up like that!

Could directing be in Kristen Bell's future?

While Kristen Bell has been acting for a long time, she's also been interested in other facets of the entertainment industry. However, her sensitivity to other women in the business has caused her to act with caution. "I have complex feelings about actors that direct, and I'm gonna be honest about that," she explained in an interview with Collider. "I've never taken the opportunity because I didn't go to school for directing." And since other women have, she was leery about stealing their jobs.

However, Bell decided to flex her directorial muscle on The Good Place, as the environment was supportive and she felt comfortable giving it a shot. "With this particular show, I felt that I was qualified because I know the material so well," she continued, noting, "I mindfully took advantage of it, this year. It was wonderful. It was a great way to stretch my wings." Hopefully she'll be able to do it again in the future!

Kristen Bell is still humble after all of her success

Even though Kristen Bell is a famous actress with wealth and status, she's not full of herself. Rather, she's truly interested in being a good person, and she thinks deeply about what that looks like. "It's a never-ending thought process," she shared in a 2019 interview with Refinery29. "Truly! Because it's constantly adjusting to the world, the variables, and the people around you."

Part of Bell's humble nature is due to her lingering anxiety, but she's learning how to cope with that and affirm her existence. "I still vacillate with being insecure all the time," she continued. "One thing that I could always improve upon is what my husband tells me every single night, 'It does not matter what other people think about you, it matters what you think about you.' And when I can live by that I feel pretty damn good." Those are words to live by!