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You Again – Kristen Bell on having Jamie Lee Curtis as her mother and Betty White as her grandmother

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You Again - Kristen Bell
Marni (Kristen Bell) © 2010 Disney

Kristen Bell has had equally successful careers on TV and in movies. On the small screen she starred as Veronica Mars, and in Deadwood, Heroes, plus being the voice of Gossip Girl. On the big screen she has performed in a slew of comedies, including Couples Retreat, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, When in Rome and in her new movie, You Again.

In You Again Bell portrays Marni, a successful business woman who returns home for her brother Will’s (James Wolk) wedding. She is horrified to discover Will’s fiancé is Joanna (Odette Yustman), her high school nemesis, who made Marni’s life a living hell.

Marni’s mother, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) is even more appalled with she finds out Joanna’s aunt is Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), the person who hounded her in high school. Can Marni and Gail come to terms with their past and enjoy the wedding? Of course not!

What was high school like for you?

You Again - Odette Yustman and Kristen Bell
Joanna (Odette Yustman) and Marni (Kristen Bell) © 2010 Disney

I had a lot of insecure moments in high school, but I don’t necessarily think that I hated high school and wanted to crawl into a hole. I was somewhere between Marni and Joanna. I wasn’t a mean girl, I was way too insecure for that and way too paranoid that everybody liked me. I wanted to make sure that I was not on anyone’s bad side because I was too scared.

I went to a very small school where the consequences of bullying were very real. You couldn’t just push some nameless face in the hallway because everybody knew each other’s families. So there wasn’t the obligatory psychotic jackass that tortured everybody.

I also was best friends with a girl since fourth grade who was the toughest girl in our high school. So strategy-wise, in a sense, for me that was my best move. I’m still best friends with her to date and speak to her every couple of days.

She was mainly the one that could be bitchy sometimes but she was never bitchy to me. Well, no, she was a couple of times!

How was it to have Jamie Lee Curtis as your mom?

You Again - Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell
Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Marni (Kristen Bell) © 2010 Disney

Amazing. Part of the reason that I wanted to do this script is because it’s so few and far between that you read a really good female-driven comedy. It’s so (unusual) that you get a script that’s different, and this script has so many feisty and sassy women and when I found out that it was going to be Sigourney [Weaver] and Jamie Lee I didn’t know what to do.

I was off my rocker. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this. Do you think they’ll still have me?!’ That’s what I thought. But they were very cool.

I was initially intimidated, and then I got nervous and it sent me back to high school, going, ‘Is everybody going to like me? And there are going to be too many personalities,’ but then you get to set and you realize they haven’t been working for decades because they have bad personalities.

They’re awesome women and it was just really interesting to work with them as peers, which they were so lovely to accept Odette and me as. That really felt amazing.

How did you handle Betty White coming on as your grandmother?

I jumped for joy and cried out of hysterics because I was so excited. The greatest thing about Betty is that every journalist says to her in every interview I’ve seen, ‘Congratulations on your comeback.’ Her response is, ‘Sweetie, I never left. You just forgot I was here.’

It’s kind of true. She’s been around forever and has an amazing body of work and is always the funniest person in the room. She’s just diminutive and you may forget that she’s there for a second until she zings you with the funniest joke you’ve ever heard and makes you double over.

Was the physical comedy in this choreographed or did you just let it happen?

You Again - Kristen Bell and Odette Yustman
Marni (Kristen Bell) and Joanna (Odette Yustman) © 2010 Disney

The lucky thing for me is that I can pretty much let it happen and whether you want it in the scene or not you’re going to get it. Look at how much I’m fussing right here. I can barely stay on the chair. I’ve got a lot of nervous energy.

I just don’t think that I have a good equilibrium and in the places where the physical comedy was necessary it came very naturally. It was fun. I embrace it. I’ve long since abandoned any notions of being as elegant as Sigourney Weaver. I know my place.

Do you have any advice for the picked-on girls in high school?

Do not let who you are in high school determine who you are for the rest of your life. Was that a line from the film? It was, wasn’t it?  I thought that I just made that up. In the back of my head I went, ‘Ooh. Good one.’ That’s probably the most concise way to say it which is why it’s ringing true.

Your dynamic with everyone will change when you graduate high school. High school is a pit of despair. It’s a swirling tornado of insecurities and there’s really nothing good about it. You’re on this learning curve of who you are and who you want to be, and you’re comparing yourself with every other male and female around you.

Everybody just wants to be loved and nobody feels loved enough in high school. So I’d say, let’s just give all of our high schoolers a little break and let them know that they’re super loved. If you’re in high school I would say just know that there is a big old world out there and you can be anyone you want to be.