“They get just as excited as other kids. They just don’t necessarily love to talk about the fact that I’m in the movie,” says Bell, who returns with the rest of the 2013 hit’s cast for “Frozen 2” (in theaters beginning Thursday night).
“It’s in your DNA to reject what your parents do,” she says. “We’re supposed to think our parents are dorky. No matter how many times I tell my daughters how cool I am, they’re not buying it because it’s part of the pattern of human development that allows you to break away from your family and assimilate to a larger tribe, which is Earth.”
“I like the fact that my daughters are like, ‘No, ‘Frozen’ is mine. I don’t need to involve you in it.’ There’s something really beautiful about that,” she says.
Actually, her kids, Lincoln, 6, and Delta, 4, are really into mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer best friend Sven because that’s who the girls are playing in a production of “Frozen Junior.”
Bell admits that they didn’t hit up her castmate Jonathan Groff for acting tips – “They’re of the mindset that Sven and Kristoff don’t belong to Jonathan” – but “once they started listening to ‘Hamilton’ a lot, they had a lot of questions for Jonathan about who he was and who he identified with more, King George or Kristoff. So they sent him numerous videos asking him questions about how could you do both those roles because it just didn’t make sense in their brain.”
The “Frozen” characters are everyone’s, Bell argues, yet there’s a definite sense of ownership between her and Anna. When they started work on the first movie, she told directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck that she wanted Anna to be the character “I needed to see as a 10-year-old girl,” Bell recalls. “I was very quirky and weirder than people I knew, and I wore my heart on my sleeve, and I thought that love was my superpower.”
Bell requested the animators show Anna snoring and drooling in her sleep “because she’s real” in the first “Frozen,” which has Anna using the actress’s go-to “Wait, what?!” line. In “Frozen 2,” her Disney princess cries a lot. “In times where she’s talking to Elsa, Anna lets her emotions blow out of her, and that’s the most me I could infuse into the movie,” Bell says.
The new film includes a highlight song for Anna, “The Next Right Thing,” where she has to pick herself up when hope seems lost. For Bell, it’s a tune that speaks to adults as well as little ones.
“A lot of people feel that feeling: What do I do when I don’t know what to do? My personal mantra is you just do the next right thing. It also stems from when I am experiencing anxiety and depression,” Bell says. “What do I do when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? You just do the next right thing, and that’s stepping out of bed. The next right thing is brushing your teeth. The next right thing is eating your breakfast. The next right thing is looking at your calendar and going to work. This idea of having an intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation is something that as a parent I know is incredibly important to show kids and to help them cope. I really wanted Anna to be representative of that.”
Bell says children don’t get enough credit “for their ability to understand and digest complexity and suffering. That’s why people identified with Elsa: She was a paradox. She felt shy and vulnerable and incredibly powerful at the same time. So having people watch these characters go through it, it’s a little bit like therapy.”