Best known for TV's “Veronica Mars,” Kristen Bell now brings to life the lead character of Anna, in Walt Disney Animation Studios' “Frozen,” a stunning big-screen comedy-adventure inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.”
In the film, Anna is more daring than graceful and, at times, can act before she thinks. But she’s also the most optimistic and caring person you’ll ever meet. She longs to reconnect with her sister, Elsa, as they were close during their childhood. When Elsa accidentally unleashes a magical secret that locks the kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter, Anna embarks on a dangerous adventure to make things right. Armed with only her fearlessness, a never-give-up attitude and her faith in others, Anna is determined to save both her kingdom and her family.
“She represents a lot of the girls I grew up with,” says director Jennifer Lee of Anna. “We can relate to her as a true female hero of today. She’s strong and fearless—in her own way—but she has flaws. She’s not perfect and I love that about her. She, as a character, really evolved along the way, becoming what she’s meant to be: empowered, yet playful with her own unique sense of humor.” Lee credits Kristen Bell with bringing the character to life in such an organic way. “Kristen has such warmth and humor—it’s so relatable and so Anna.”
“Anna’s a little awkward,” says Bell. “She's very goofy—easily excitable. She often speaks before she thinks. She's a little more, in my opinion, human than what you might expect.”
Animation supervisor Becky Bresee, who headed up the animation for Anna, turned to one tool she uses often to achieve very human performances: herself. “Instead of doing thumbnails, I actually make videos of myself acting a scene out. I usually film myself dozens of times to make sure I’m getting the exact performance that I want—though I almost always end up going back to my first take because it’s the most honest.”
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and husband and songwriting partner Robert Lopez, who worked hand-in-hand with the directors and story team, were struck by the image of Anna getting shut out by her sister. “What could get you more on that girl’s side than seeing doors slam in her face all throughout her childhood?” asks Anderson-Lopez.
“We needed to tap into Anna’s emotions,” continues Anderson-Lopez. “We needed to understand her and show what’s missing from the world of this goofy, optimistic young woman. That moment in the film when we see the two sisters on either side of the closed door is one of the most revealing moments in the movie.”
The filmmakers realized that the morning of Elsa’s coronation would represent a new beginning for Anna. The story team wanted to introduce the now-grown-up Anna with a song, but it proved to be a tall order. “This particular song was a tough nut to crack, because it had to do a lot of things,” says Anderson-Lopez. “It had to introduce Anna as an optimistic, active person, but also as someone with a need to be filled over the course of the movie.”
The solution—and title of the song, “For the First Time in Forever”—came from a story-room conversation when someone said the words ‘for the first time in forever’ as part of a story point, catching the ear of president of Walt Disney Music's Chris Montan. “I said, ‘That’s it! That’s Anna’s song!’” says Montan. “It was just one of those moments. ‘For the first time in forever, I'm going to be free. I might meet somebody. I might live my life.’ It was really exciting.”
Opening across the Philippines in 3D and 2D on Nov. 27, “Frozen” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.