Indie Spirits: Co-Host Kristen Bell Just Happy She Won't Be Changing Fred Armisen's Diaper
On the eve of Film Independent’s 30th annual awards show, Bell — set to co-host with Armisen — reveals their plans for the show and how 2 a.m. feedings help her prep.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
From its clunky original name — The Findie Awards (Friends of Independents) — to its humble beginnings inside the once-trendy (now no more) 385 North restaurant on La Cienega, to its original trophy (a Plexiglas pyramid containing suspended shoestrings to symbolize small-budget movies), the event conceived as the anti-Oscars not only has endured but also has remained the business' most relevant harbinger of film's next wave.
While some grouse that the Film Independent Spirit Awards have begun to mingle too closely with the Oscars pool (this year, four best picture nominees — Whiplash, Selma, Birdman and Boyhood — also are contending for the Spirits' top honor), there are dozens of audacious Spirit nominees, including Obvious Child's Jenny Slate, Appropriate Behavior's Desiree Akhavan and Nightcrawler's Riz Ahmed, whose microbudget risk-taking embodies the ceremony's fringy roots.
Here, Spirits co-host Kristen Bell, who stars on Showtime's House of Lies, reveals how she and Fred Armisen "seamlessly" will emcee the always-colorful seaside event, which indie classics have influenced her most as an actor (if only she could remember) and which nominated film she wishes she could have starred in.
Whose idea was it to pair you with Fred? Seems like a match made in hosting heaven.
An unknown behind-the-scenes genius! I got the offer, and Fred was a huge part of me saying yes. He's amazing at improv, and I'm really good at reading a teleprompter, so I can't see how we could mess this up.
What is the secret to co-hosting? Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make it look so easy.
They are perfection. It's a reigning fact of life. Co-hosting is definitely easier — you don't feel as naked. Fred's and my comedy styles are different, so hopefully it will feel seamless. As long as we can pick through the dumpster of jokes that didn't make it into Amy and Tina's performance, it should be a great afternoon. It helps, too, that the films nominated were extra-weird — so much great, risky experimental content. The camerawork in Birdman alone — I can't imagine what the focus pullers' cortisol levels were while making that movie! I was extremely inspired by that film. I grew up in the theater, so I crave things that feel real — you're not stopping for a camera angle. Birdman is somewhere between a great theater piece and a really great movie. It's a true creative explosion!
Have you had a chance to see the nominated films?
I'm still working through them. I'm usually putting them in at 2 or 3 in the morning when I'm nursing [Bell's second daughter, Delta, was born in December], so my state of mind isn't totally clear, but I will get through them. Provided Fred doesn't ask me to change his diaper, this whole thing will be a really nice vacation for me.
This year marks the Spirits' 30th anniversary. Which indie talents and projects have influenced you most as an actor?
You're dealing with a woman still experiencing pregnancy brain. All I can think about right now are stimulation music toys — there are so many, I can't think!
If you could have appeared in any of this year's Spirit best feature nominees, which role would you have played?
OK, this is a fantasy, so there's only one answer, right? Playing Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Of course, I would have loved to have been Miles Teller in Whiplash — or gotten frisky with Miles Teller in Whiplash — but you can't pass up being in a historically significant, Oprah-approved film. There's nothing better than that.