Kristen Bell Says a “Properly Dysfunctional Person” Lives Inside Her Head

Kristen Bell Says a “Properly Dysfunctional Person” Lives Inside Her Head

Dustin Milligan and Kristen Bell in The People We Hate at the Wedding

In her new movie “The People We Hate at the Wedding,” Kristen Bell plays a character who’s a major mess. Alice is having an affair with her married boss, she refuses to settle down, and she’s working a job she hates. It’s quite different from where Bell finds herself — married, with two kids and a thriving career. But she tells POPSUGAR it still wasn’t a stretch to get into her character’s mindset.

“I think about making bad decisions each and every day, each and every moment,” Bell says. “So it was very easy. There’s a properly dysfunctional person that lives inside my head.” She adds that the character’s surroundings always help too; it was easy for her to channel Alice’s insecurities when she’s in her sterile office environment talking to her boss, for example.

Bell loves the movie because it’s “so heartfelt, but not saccharine.” She explains, “It is biting, it is whip smart, it is raunchy, but there is this familial joy about it. And I liked the idea of being involved with something where someone could escape and sit and watch this with their family.”

And the film’s central family has a lot of issues to untangle. “We start at a pretty dysfunctional place, which is really interesting to watch where you’re every single character you’re like, ‘No, why, are they . . . Wait, what?'” Bell says. There’s her character’s younger brother, Paul (Ben Platt), who’s in a disastrous relationship. Their mom, Donna, played by Allison Janney, is struggling after the recent death of her husband. And Paul and Alice’s half-sister, Eloise (“Rings of Power”‘s Cynthia Addai-Robinson), is trying to get the whole bunch to play nice so she can happily marry her fiancé, Ollie (“House of the Dragon”‘s John Macmillan). On top of that, Alice is also balancing a new love interest, played by “Schitt’s Creek”‘s Dustin Milligan. “We tried to make this as realistic and relatable and messy as possible,” Bell says, while still ending the film in a satisfying way. “Interpersonal relationships of family are very vulnerable,” she adds. “And they require a lot.”

One part of the movie Bell can’t relate to, though, is Eloise’s dream of a big, princess wedding. “We wanted to go to the courthouse, that’s what we did,” she says of her 2013 wedding to husband Dax Shepard. But she says it’s not because she doesn’t like getting dressed up for big events. “I have had many days where I feel like a princess,” she says. “Besides just getting to play a princess, but also going to premieres and stuff. I’ve had those fancy days, so I don’t fault anyone who wants a big shebang wedding.”

Starring in the film had one more major draw for Kristen — working with Janney, which she calls “obviously a dream come true.” Bell explains of the legendary actress, “She’s so playful. She is a big kid. She is incredibly sassy and joyful. And her playfulness comes out on screen, whether she’s playing a crazy villain or whether she’s playing our mom.” Bell says that between takes, Janney would play games with her and Ben. “I learned a lot about performance by watching her,” Bell adds.

“The People We Hate at the Wedding” streams Nov. 18 on Prime Video.