What You Never Knew About Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell has earned her place as one of America's sweethearts — and its not very hard to see why. As one of the most sought-after leading ladies in Hollywood, she dazzles on screen with her sparkling personality and charming smile. 

At 24, she landed the role of the titular high school student-turned-private investigator in "Veronica Mars," capturing audiences' hearts. She quickly became a household name, landing leading roles in rom-coms like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and TV series like "The Good Place." She's also starred in the mystery parody "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window," which premiered on Netflix in January 2022. The Detroit native has come a long way from when she made money for her family by modeling for Kmart catalogues (per Variety). And for her hard work in the industry, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Besides her work on screen, Bell, a doting wife and mom of two, is known for her commitment to others. A typical day for the multitasking actress can include everything from taking her daughters to school, recording a voiceover, volunteering her time, walking her fur babies, and cuddling with her husband, Dax Shepard.

Although fans may think they know all there is to learn about the blond beauty, here are some interesting things we discovered about the talented star.

She didn't always go by Kristen

Kristen Bell was raised in suburban Detroit and attended Shrine Catholic High School where she immersed herself in drama and music (via The Oakland Post). It may come as a surprise to learn that, during her high school days, she was known as "Annie," because from an early age, she decided that she hated her name and settled on the alternative moniker inspired by the 1982 film. "And I was called 'Annie' by my whole family 'til I was 16. My grandparents still call me 'Annie,' my sisters, " she revealed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

In that same interview, she spoke about being stubborn during her childhood, especially when it came to her first name. She explained that before choosing Annie, she came up with another possibility. "When I was about 3 and a half, I said, 'No more. You will call me Smurfette or nothing at all,'" she said. Luckily, her family was able to convince her to go by Annie instead.

The actress dropped out of NYU for a role on Broadway

Since she always knew she wanted to be a performer, Kristen Bell studied musical theater in college. Upon graduation from high school, the aspiring actress moved to New York to attend New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, whose famous alumni include Adam Sandler, Elizabeth Olsen, and Miles Teller. (During this time, she even snuck a pet rabbit into her freshman dorm, as she told Us Weekly!)

However, like Lady Gaga (via MTV News) and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (via Life & Style), she never actually graduated NYU. Instead, she went to work on Broadway, playing Becky Thatcher in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," which closed after just one month. The following year, she landed her second role on the Great White Way in "The Crucible" with Liam Neeson (via Playbill). 

Although she was getting some acting gigs, she admitted it wasn't that easy for her in the beginning of her career. "I wasn't homely or awkward enough to play the awkward girl, but I wasn't pretty enough to play the love interest," she told CBS News.

Kristen Bell considers Veronica Mars to be 'one of the best parts' of her life

Kristen Bell's career-defining moment came when she was cast as the lead in "Veronica Mars." The gifted actress, who was 24 at the time, beat out the 99 other women who auditioned for the titular role. "Kristen was the very first actress I saw and my mind was blown," the show's creator, Rob Thomas, explained during PaleyFest 2014 (via ABC News). And when he watched her during the taping of its first episode, he knew she was destined for greatness. "I'm watching her from the monitor, and tears start streaming down her face, and I'm just like, 'Holy s***! We have a star!'"

The beloved series was canceled after only three seasons in 2007. However, Bell would go on to play Veronica again and again. In 2014, the series came back as a movie, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $5.7 million from loyal fans' donations (via CNBC). The show also returned with a fourth season in 2019, airing on Hulu.

Naturally, Bell has a fondness for the role, which she told "Good Morning America" was "one of the best parts of [her] life." And now that she's a mom, she sees her character's worth even more. "I am not prouder than anything than having been a part of this role that my daughters will see one day because Veronica knows how to act in the world," she told ET.

Her wedding to Dax Shepard cost $142

The setting for Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard's meet cute was a mutual industry friend's birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant in 2007. Bell said "there were no sparks whatsoever," and she didn't even know who he was! "I'm like, 'Maybe is that one of the guys from 'Jacka**' or something?'" she said on "Sunday Today." As fate would have it, two weeks later, the future spouses ran into each other at a hockey game and that's when the conversation turned flirtatious. 

After three months of dating, the two hit a rough patch. "We were dating for about three months, and I already knew that I was in love with him and he was hesitant because he knew he was still dating other people," she dished to PopSugar. "He sat me down and said, 'I can't have this right now.'" But that all changed after just four days when he called her to say he made a mistake.

In 2009, after filming "When In Rome" together, Shepard popped the question. The lovebirds, who welcomed their first daughter, Lincoln Bell Shepard, in March 2013, had vowed they wouldn't tie the knot until gay marriage was legalized, so they waited until October of that year to make it official. They got hitched in a Beverly Hills courthouse, and Shepard told Jimmy Kimmel (via CNN) that it cost "all in, with fuel to get there, $142 out the door."

Both of her daughters have unique names

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard welcomed their first daughter, Lincoln Bell Shepard, in March 2013 (via People), and Good Housekeeping reported that her name came from the car and President Abraham Lincoln. Their second daughter, Delta Bell Shepard, came in 2020 (via People). When it came time to naming their second little one, the pair relied on a text Shepard received from a friend, which joked about their penchant for picking unusual names. "Dax's friend texted, 'Are you going to pick another bad*** name, like 'Delta Force'?' Dax went, 'Ooh! Delta!'" Bell dished to Good Housekeeping. 

After the Delta variant of COVID-19 appeared, Bell did admit to the unfortunate timing of the moniker. On her podcast, "We Are Supported By," she lamented (via Today), "It's a big, big bummer." However, she noted, "But I'm really hoping that the delta variant won't be as strong as the original COVID and people will still say corona."

And although they do speak of their children in interviews, the couple protects their offspring, keeping them away from the public eye. In fact, when Bell posts family photos on Instagram, her daughters' faces are always kept hidden.

Kristen Bell launched a CBD skincare line

To keep her skin looking great on screen, Kristen Bell doesn't just use any old products. She relies on the skincare line that she herself created! Happy Dance was born and includes hand cream, body butter, bath bombs, eye cream, and face moisturizer. The actress was first introduced to CBD cream when she went for a haircut and the hairstylist used it on her shoulders. "It's hard to explain what it did to me," she recalled to Forbes. "But I just felt this overall improvement ... "

As for the recipe behind her beauty line, Bell explained to Allure that "the goal was returning hydrating essentials back into your face that you might have misplaced under the piles of laundry or your eighth cup of coffee, because there are so many dehydrating elements to modern-day life."

The company also has a charitable aspect to it, and 1% of all proceeds are donated to the nonprofit A New Way of Life, which provides support, such as housing, to women who were formerly incarcerated.

She's a mental health advocate

Kristen Bell has been very candid about her history with depression and anxiety. In fact, in 2016, she penned an essay in Time, in which she opened up about her struggles that began when she was in college. In the heartfelt piece, she explained that, although there was no logical reason for the way she felt, she knew to seek help, and credited her mother for educating her about those feelings. She went on to say that for the first 15 years of her career, she did not speak about the subject, but she decided to share her experiences to help others who might be facing a similar situation. "I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure," she said about what was going through her mind at the time. "Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn't have been more wrong."

One of the ways the actress stays mentally healthy is by making sure she sticks to a regular exercise routine. And although she maintains a toned physique, she's shared that her goal when working out is not to look a certain way but to feel good. "I work out for my mental health," she dished on Instagram, alongside a video of her in action. "When I don't, I'm sad, irritable, anxious and lethargic."

A dog lover, Kristen Bell is especially fond of fostering

Another activity Kristen Bell engages in to combat depression is spending time with her beloved fur babies. The animal lover, who is particularly fond of dogs, calls them "nature's antidepressants." "When I'm responsible for caring for an animal, it gives me a lot of self-esteem," she explained to USA Today. Before she had her daughters Lincoln and Delta, she adopted Lola, a Welsh Corgi-Chow Chow, from a Los Angeles shelter, and has said that she treats her pets as if they are her children. "To me, they're just kids I didn't birth," she told People

In 2020, she posted on her Instagram Stories (via Today) about the death of Barbara, a senior dog that the Bell-Shepard family also adopted, and how she hoped her positive experience would raise awareness about the joys of bringing an older dog home. Today, Bell shares her family's home with two pups. One is Frank, whom she rescued after a fight with her husband, as she described on the "Life Is Short with Justin Long" podcast. The other, Whiskey, was adopted in 2021. In a loving Instagram tribute to her four-legged friend, Bell explained that he lost one of his legs after getting hit by a truck.

She helps people less fortunate than herself

When she's not taking care of her children or her pets, Kristen Bell is working to help those who are less fortunate. The actress and philanthropist volunteers her time to serve others and is involved with multiple nonprofit organizations. "My goal in life is to spread more joy and reduce suffering any way I can," she told Forbes

One of the causes close to her heart is Alliance of Moms, which supports pregnant teen women and teen moms who are in foster care. She supports the organization along with other celebrity mothers like Selma Blair and Jordana Brewster (via Just Jared). The actress also dedicates her time to Baby2Baby, which gives children living in poverty necessities like diapers and clothing. Additionally, she cofounded the company This Saves Lives, which creates granola bar snacks. The proceeds from sales provide food to children in need. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she also gave to another worthwhile charity, No Kid Hungry, which has a mission to end childhood hunger. The actress generously donated $150,007.96 to their efforts, and explained on Instagram that the reason for the uneven number was the fact that her daughters wanted to pitch in and contributed that extra cash from their piggy bank savings! In an essay she wrote for Parents, Bell said she thinks it's important to include her children in her charitable efforts because it "teaches our kids that what we have is not who we are."

Kristen Bell is a trained singer

Although many consider Kristen Bell an actress, she's also a talented singer who trained in the craft as a child. "I grew up studying opera and sang in solo and ensemble competitions instead of playing a sport," she told Yahoo! Movies

As we already know, as an adult, she pursued music in college and sang on Broadway, but once she got her start as a TV and film star, she didn't really get to showcase her singing voice. That all changed when she was cast as a lead in "Frozen" and sang her character Anna's songs, such as "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," for the movie.

Since she was not known for her musical talents, her fellow cast members on set were surprised to learn of her vocal chops. In fact, her co-star on the Disney film Idina Menzel, who played Elsa, told Yahoo!, "I didn't know how great a singer she was," adding, "I quickly found out and need to constantly tell her because she doesn't tell anybody else!"

She wrote a bestselling book

Although Kristen Bell has a lot going on, the working mom always carves time out of her busy schedule to read. And she shares that love for the written word with her family, always sitting down with her daughters to enjoy a book together. She also reads with her husband at night, oftentimes the same book, so they can discuss it afterwards (via USA Today).

Since she is such an avid reader, it was only natural that she decided to pen a book herself. In 2020, she cowrote the children's picture book "The World Needs More Purple People" with her friend Benjamin Hart. The pair's mission was to educate kids on the similarities that humans share. "If you can see similarities, you're more likely to walk through the world with an open mind. But if you walk into a conversation seeing only differences, your mind is going to think differently," Bell explained to Mental Floss. The book was so popular that it landed a No. 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list.

A disagreement with her husband led Kristen Bell to a brand deal

To add to her multiple side hustles, Kristen Bell also serves as a brand ambassador. One of the companies she promotes, La-Z-Boy, actually reached out to her and Dax Shepard after they heard about a quarrel they had over one of their products. It all started in 2017 when Shepard decided to place the couple's new La-Z-Boy recliner in the center of their living room. Since it was blocking her view of the television, Bell shared her discontent on Instagram, with a photo of her husband sitting in the chair with the hashtag #2017lazyboydebate. She posted another incriminating picture of him in the same spot, with the caption reading, "The man has lost his mind."

The playful spousal argument took on a life of its own when both Shepard and Bell appeared separately on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to tell their sides of the story. All this media buzz must have caught the attention of the furniture brand, because they called the couple, resulting in Bell being hired as its brand ambassador. "And when they called us I thought they got the wrong Bell Shepard. But they said we'd like to approach you because we think that you're not familiar with the entire brand," she told Architectural Digest about the beginnings of their partnership. 

Some things in the Forgetting Sarah Marshall script oddly mirrored her life

In 2008, Kristen Bell played the lead in the hit rom-com "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which grossed a staggering $105.8 million in the box office. In the titular role, Bell starred as Sarah Marshall, an actress who was known for her part in a crime show, which gets canceled towards the end of the movie. Art imitated life for Bell, who dished at a 2013 San Diego Comic-Con panel that she learned "Veronica Mars" was canceled the day before she shot the scene in this film in which Sarah learns her show got canceled. "So it was really, really deep and hurtful for me to shoot that scene," she told the audience.

Another uncanny coincidence for the actress was when she heard that Sarah Marshall would be made fun of for having appeared in a movie about killer cell phones. "She had an interesting reaction when she saw that in the script," Bell's co-star Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the film, told MTV News. "Kristen was convinced that we were intentionally trying to make fun of her." The reason she thought that was because the actress herself had actually been in the sci-fi horror movie "Pulse" with a similar premise about technology turning evil.