Born in Michigan in 1980, Kristen Bell studied musical theater at New York University and made her Broadway debut while still a student. In 2002, she moved to Los Angeles and began appearing on TV. Film roles soon followed. In 2004, Bell landed her breakout role, the title character on the TV series Veronica Mars. This led to more roles in films, including the hit comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat and Get Him to the Greek.
Born on July 19, 1980, in Huntington Woods, Michigan, Kristen Bell was raised in the Detroit suburbs and became interested in acting at an early age. By age 13, Bell had secured an agent and begun acting in commercials, appearing in TV spots for OfficeMax and United Way.
Bell attended Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, where she played Dorothy in a production of The Wizard of Oz and appeared in several musicals. After high school, Bell studied musical theater at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and made her Broadway debut while still a student, in a musical version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Off-Broadway, she took the lead role of Mary Lane in an adaptation of the legendary 1930s film Reefer Madness called Reefer Madness: The Musical. Her film debut came in 1998 in an uncredited spot in the indie film Polish Wedding, which was filmed in Detroit.
The Move to L.A.
In 2002, Bell's career got a jolt when she was cast in a Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, which starred Laura Linney and Liam Neeson. Soon after, she moved to Los Angeles and immediately landed a guest role on the hard-hitting crime show The Shield as the girlfriend of a gang member. With her career starting to roll, Bell soon appeared on NBC's American Dreams and the WB Network's Everwood and in TV-movies. In 2004, Bell was in David Mamet's Spartan and had a recurring role on HBO's hugely popular drama Deadwood. But for another reason, 2004 would be the year that would change Bell's life: She landed the lead role on the new TV show Veronica Mars, which would run for 64 episodes and draw a rabid cult following.
Over the course of the show's four seasons, Bell was nominated for several awards and took home the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television in 2006. The success of Veronica Mars led Bell to film parts, and a year into the series she reprised her role in Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical in a Showtime adaptation, following that with roles in small films such as Deepwater (2005), Fifty Pills (2006) and Pulse (2006). (To boot, in 2006 PETA named Bell the World's Sexiest Vegetarian and Maxim added her to a plethora of "sexiest" lists as well.)
Finding Her Stride
While keeping busy with films, Bell managed to find even more television success in 2007 (the year Veronica Mars came to an end) when she took on narration duties on Gossip Girl and joined the hit show Heroes. She also began a romantic relationship with fellow actor Dax Shepard in 2007. The pair announced in 2012 that they were expecting a child together. The coupled welcomed daughter, Lincoln Bell Shepard, in March 2013 and married in October of the same year. In December 2014, they welcomed a second daughter, Delta Bell Shepard.
Set on doing it all, in 2008 Bell hit movie theaters with her first major box-office success: the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which she played the title role (a role she reprised in a 2010 sequel of sorts, Get Him to the Greek). She followed Sarah Marshall with Fan Boys (2009), a small, well-received comedy, and Couples Retreat (2009), another comedy, this one co-starring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis. Also in 2009, Bell took on voiceover work in the family film Astro Boy, and 2010 saw her appear in the romantic comedy When in Rome.
Since 2010, Bell has appeared in more than a dozen films and on several TV shows, and has lent her voice to the Assassin's Creed video games. She is also the female lead on the Showtime series House of Lies, which began its run in January 2012.
In April 2016, Bell starred opposite Melissa McCarthy in the big screen comedy The Boss. She also stars in NBC's The Good Place, opposite Ted Danson. On the big screen, she starred in the comedy Bad Moms, opposite Mila Kunis. The film, although not receiving the greatest enthusiasm from critics, was a box office hit.
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