LAKE BELL: THE GREAT LAKE

March 05, 2014 2:48 PM

Lake Bell has made a name for herself as a charming, beautiful, and witty New Yorker capable of indie and blockbuster success (“It’s Complicated”, “No Strings Attached”, “Children’s Hospital”). But with her most recent endeavor “In a World…” she has proven herself both as a talented director and writer as well. This triple threat personifies a true storyteller, capable of captivating audiences, and inspiring hopefuls everywhere. TWELV decided to turn our clever muse into the ultimate femme fatale, full of power and poise, seductively destroying everyone in her path.

You’ve written, directed, produced and starred in “In A World…”. We’re sure in many ways it almost feels like your metaphorical child, for lack of better words. What is it like showcasing this film to be seen by the world?

Yeah, absolutely, yes. Well, the stretch marks aren’t as bad. When you’re making a movie or anything of that nature, you’re just thinking about the next day, what needs to get done now. It becomes more immediate in terms of what your goals are, and all of sudden, five years passes and suddenly people can go buy popcorn and see your movie, and that is utterly surreal and romantic in many ways.

The cast of the movie is amazing: Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Michaela Watkins, Tig Notaro, just to name a few. What was it like working with that cast of characters?

I’m extremely fortunate I can call those incredible people dear friends of mine. I’m fortunate in that way because they are in my life personally, but also they would have the audacity and the balls to come on and help me, and lend their talents to me as a first time filmmaker. I will say that when writing the movie, I used different actors as the spirit animals of the characters. Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins were who I had envisioned for those parts, so I was very lucky that they were able to be in the movie, but also show up in such an incredible and elevated way. It’s not easy to ask your friends, because your friends are the ones you know are too busy to do anything else other than the things that are already on their plate.

You reunited in the movie with a few cast members from “Children’s Hospital”. That seems to be a show that enjoys being outside of the norm.

Being in “Children’s Hospital” from the get-go has made it not only really enjoyable to be part of, but also there is very much a comedy family or troupe of people that we feel very comfortable with. It’s an incredible place to work, and now, the past two seasons I’ve been directing, it’s a great exercise to direct your friends. Of any job I’ve ever done, that is strangely the most rewarding because not only do I gain an incredible exercise of comedy muscles but also I’ve gained incredible friendships. Rob Corddry officiated my wedding. He’s really like family and I think we’re all there for each other.

“In A World…” won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, where the film premiered earlier this year.

There was no way in hell I was expecting anything. I knew I wasn’t going to win anything so I was fine. My team and I were just relaxing, I was on my second Stella, and had literally taken my high heels off while we were sitting there. The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award came up and I was just listening, and then they mentioned something about voiceover and I was like, “What’s the other voiceover movie?” And my producers were like, “That’s you, you idiot!” I had to put my shoes back on. I couldn’t believe it. I was in denial until they said the words. And of course I was rendered speechless, which is ironic given my movie is about voice and speech.

The movie focuses primarily on one woman’s attempt to kick-start her career, rather than the traditional Hollywood ideal of searching for love. Was the focus intentionally less rom-com and more girl-power?

I never considered the movie to be a rom-com. I think it’s interesting how if there is a female protagonist in a film that is a comedy, it very often gets stamped as a rom-com. But, say, “Wedding Crashers” for instance, which is a male-driven comedy about weddings and relationships, that’s not considered a rom-com. I would consider “In A World…” a comedy and I think how Carol takes her life in her own hands, or at least attempts to in her messy way, is somewhat refreshing. I always try to challenge myself to not think about what “audiences” would think because that feels so abstract. I try to shun that thought as much as possible. I try to think, “What do I want to see next?”

The tagline of “In A World…” is, “Speak up and let your voice be heard.” On that note, what charities inspire you to speak up and lend your voice to their cause?

I have been active in the ASPCA for my whole life because my family is very connected in that world and very supportive. I have my 100-year-old rescue pit bull and I’ve always been an animal rights person. Also, there is a charity I love in L.A., Food on Foot, which helps homeless people down on their luck who have found themselves without homes and jobs. It helps them become self-sufficient by a system of rewards and hard work.

TWELV’s inspiration for this issue is MUSE. Who is your inspiration or muse in life?

I can’t not say Michaela Watkins is somewhat of a muse for me. She is the star of my short film, the first thing I had ever written on my own, called “Worst Enemy”. It was in competition at Sundance Film Festival in 2011. I wrote and directed it. She was my star because I find her utterly inspiring to write for and she is a masterful actress and incredible comedian. Her depth knows no bounds and I think she doesn’t often get to exercise it.

What designers or brands do you enjoy wearing?

I’ve always been an avid fan of Rag & Bone and Lyn Devon, because they are my friends and I’m very lucky to have them as friends. But I love Creatures of Comfort for everyday stuff. I will fan out on Vanessa Bruno and Isabel Marant. I could tell you I love Celine, and Lanvin, which I do adore, but that isn’t what I wear on a daily basis. I’m not going to the grocery store in Lanvin. Opening Ceremony is great, I frequent there – I’m a kid in a candy store in there. Carven, I love to rock a Carven occasionally. But Lyn Devon is one of my oldest friends. So, if I’m going to splurge on a coat for fall, I want to go there because she’s the finest designer I know when it comes to classic, beautiful, ‘I’m-going-to-have-this-for-the-rest-of-my-life’ pieces. It’s good juju, because she is a wonderful person. You want to look good but also you want to have good juju in there. 

Your upcoming movie, “Million Dollar Arm” looks exciting. Tell us a bit about that, and also what’s next for you.

Right now, I’m writing my next feature, which is super fun. Just to inject myself into a different world with a different set of characters becomes really invigorating because I’ve been hanging out with the “In A World…” crew characters for many years now, and it’s just nice to let them take five.  “Million Dollar Arm” is a feel-good baseball movie that stars Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin and Bill Paxton. It revolves around this down-on-his-luck sports agent who gets the idea to go to India to recruit the new star pitcher for the major leagues. Hilarity ensues and then we all cry. It’s one of those movies where it’s an underdog story, and it’s based on a true story. So, the waterworks are going to come.

I know you’ve recently moved to Brooklyn, do you have any favorite places in New York? Or favorite neighborhoods?

I’m a Brooklyn girl now, but I will always have a place in my heart for the East Village, it’s where my brother has lived for 15 years. I’ve been going there since I was a kid, the Upper East Side too. I guess I’m an east side girl.

Who is someone you are dying to work with soon?

There is a top secret list I keep in my phone that I will crack out from time to time and add to. But the person I want to hang out with the most is my husband because all I do is work and all he does is work, and I feel that it would be really nice to just hang out with him. I cherish every moment that we get to see each other because we just got married, and we both jumped into big Crock-Pots of work right away.

Would it be correct to say the film industry can make one feel like a woman in man’s world, especially behind the camera?

I have never felt at a huge disadvantage, from where I’m sitting, about being a woman in a man’s world in filmmaking. Whether you are a man or a woman, it’s just hard. To get it off the ground, and for anyone to give you any type of support, credit or money, it’s a very difficult endeavor but completely rewarding. Is it more difficult for a woman? Yes, it is. But I don’t think that we have to think about it too much. If you’re trying to make movies and you’re a woman, then I wouldn’t overthink it. I’m just going to go make a movie. But yeah, I happen to be a female voice.

Do you have any hidden talents that TWELV should know about? 

I use to be the limbo champion at Club Med when I was a kid, which is a little known fact. Also, I’m very dexterous in my eyebrows, I’ve got crazy facial muscles, so I can manipulate my eyebrows in pretty athletic ways, and not many people know that. I think that is a fair amount of secrets for today. 

By: Kristin Limoges 

Photography: Christian Anwander

Styling: Sarah Granetz

Hair: Bridget Brager @The Wall Group. Makeup: Julie Harris @The Wall Group. Photo Assistants: Matthew Hawkes, Roxane Hartridge. Stylist Assistant: Molly Murray. Fashion Assistants: Noa Hatley, Paulina Olivares. Production, Casting: Marbles & Marbles: Roman Yee. Post Production: Feather Creative

 *This cover story was featured in TWELV's Fall/Winter 2013 Issue

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