Kristen Bell is back as Veronica Mars, this time playing the small-town detective on the big screen. It's the movie adaptation that the fans literally made happen, thanks to a rapidly funded Kickstarter campaign that raised the money in record time.
The movie finds Veronica in New York, having just finished law school and interviewing for high-powered law firms. Until, that is, her ex, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is accused of murdering his famous girlfriend. It's up to Veronica to go home and set the record straight, even if it puts her newfound success at risk.
Moviefone caught up with Bell by phone as she talked about the show's loyal fans, securing the film's many cameos, and why she's the next Bill Shatner.
Moviefone: Can you believe how fast the money was raised for this movie?
Kristen Bell: No, I was slack-jawed. I am an idealist and an optimist and I like to stay positive, so I kept saying, "Of course we'll make the goal, you guys. We can do $2 million in a month. We can incentivize. We can pre-sell this movie." But even I was shocked that we raised $5.7 million.
You actually raised the first $2 million in what, 10 hours?
Yeah, under 12, which was phenomenal and I think Malcolm Gladwell's probably the only person who can explain how it happened.
What was it like returning to play Veronica so many years later?
It felt like coming home. I grew up with Veronica. She's so effortless, for me, as an actress. I don't feel like I'm acting, so that's a lot of fun, to be 100 percent present in a character. And I love working with these people. There's a reason everybody was in the movie: Characters you saw from the series, characters like Max Greenfield [who plays Leo], Sam Huntington [Luke], Ken Marino [Vinnie], because we love each other!
The only one who couldn't come back for the film was Leighton Meester?
Yes, exactly. I think she had another movie going at the same time, so it was a bit of a bummer. [Carrie Bishop, who is now world-famous pop star Bonnie Deville, is played in the film by Twin Sister lead singer Andrea Estella.]
It must have been a blast being reunited with (nearly) the entire cast.
It was. We all keep in touch, but we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. So it was a real treat to spend 30 days with all these idiots.
What do you think adult Veronica thinks of her behavior as teenage Veronica? And what advice would she give her?
Funny enough, adult Veronica regressed a little bit. Adult Veronica is running from her true north. Adult Veronica is trying out the waters of normalcy and stability. Within the first few moments of the film, she realizes it's just not for her. So I don't think Adult Veronica, at least not at the beginning of this film, is qualified to give advice to anybody.
But she never sells out.
No, she doesn't. She lets the water take her away. She comes back to who she's supposed to be.
You're an executive producer on the film: What does that entail?
Wow. Anything they need. Rob and I were scheming from the moment that the show was canceled to try to figure out how to make it. So I suppose a producerial element is having been in at the inception of the idea or the very early stages. I called in a lot of favors with Jamie Lee Curtis's involvement and in getting people to cameo, like my husband. He wasn't difficult to convince. Or Justin Long, who's also a very good friend. Creatively, the script, I leave up to Rob, without question. I never challenged his representation of Veronica or Neptune. I was more in a rallying the troops position, I think.
What about getting James Franco to cameo? Was that your doing?
That was no favor, whatsoever. I think it was just the normal route where Rob had written an impassioned letter and sent it to Franco's agent. And Franco immediately signed on. Thankfully, he supports artists and people who are doing unique ventures. We were very, very lucky and thankful for his support.
What will fans be most satisfied by?
Oh, wow. I think just the fact the movie's getting made will be satisfying. We really, really, really hope that people walk away feeling like they know Veronica again, and feeling like they have Veronica again. It's really important to me that especially -- really only our Kickstarter backers -- walk out of that theater satisfied. I couldn't care less about everyone else. I take it very seriously that they put their money where their mouth was and that they funded this movie. They are not just our fans, but now our colleagues and, essentially, our bosses. Because they funded the film and I don't digest that lightly.
Let's say this is a box-office smash. Would you turn to the studio (Warner Bros. is distributing the film) to finance a sequel, or back to Kickstarter?
I would not go back to Kickstarter. The studio needs to fund it next time, period. The studio didn't fund it because ... they wanted to, but the economics have to align for a business to support something. Executives can't just have a wild and crazy dream and the next morning greenlight a movie about it. There has to be a financial viability to a project. So that's what we were intending to prove with Kickstarter. We would simultaneously raise the money and prove that there was interest.
It is set up for a sequel. So are you thinking it'll be like "Star Trek," with lots of spinoffs and reboots?
In a heartbeat. Yes, I've always seen a long life for Veronica. And I've always wanted to be Captain Kirk. What's his name? Bill...
Right. I've always seen myself as the next Bill Shatner. And I think, if we're being honest, we all have. So many similarities.
Maybe Veronica in the FBI at last.
What would you like to see happen in a sequel? Or is it too early to talk about it?
I'm starting to talk about a sequel because I want that seed implanted in everyone's mind. And I want them to know that I'd be on board. I don't know where it would go, because that's Rob's domain. I tip my hat to our captain. I don't think I can even recall a time when we disagree.
So, in the movie, Veronica has to choose between doing something she loves and getting paid lots of money. In your own career, do you face that choice often?
Wow. That's a good question. Certainly movies you might be less creatively drawn to you might be paid more because they're more commercially relevant. But I prefer movies like this where there's a whole helluva lot of passion behind them. Because no one got paid on this movie. But everybody had the most wonderful experience. And at the end of the day, my personal belief is that that's what life is about and I would continue to do projects I'm passionate about, no matter what I'm paid.
Having a taser comes in handy for Veronica. Do you ever carry one yourself? Or wish you did?
I'm a pacifist, but there are certainly moments, like when you get off an airplane and the paparazzi are surrounding you and you feel like prey and predator. I wouldn't mind accidentally knocking my taser into some of them.
I'm a little disappointed you couldn't work in a sloth somewhere.
[Laughs] Well, there just wasn't a place. Rob already had all the roles cast. Quite possibly in the sequel, she'll take a trip to the zoo and see a sloth and break down.
"Veronica Mars" hits theaters and VOD on March 14.
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