Kristen Bell’s happy place is the dinner table, when she and husband Dax Shepard make multicolored grilled cheese sandwiches with daughters Lincoln, 3, and Delta, 2, that include beets and purple cabbage from their garden. Her beauty routine is equally unfussy: Sunscreen about sums it up.
And in her day-to-day life, she prefers preppy and casual, yet she has been stepping out recently in a sexy black Zuhair Murad jumpsuit to talk to Seth Meyers, and in a plunging black Jenny Packham at the Golden Globes.
“I take risks every now and again. My style is based on the way I’m feeling, and I feel different every day,” Bell tells Yahoo Style. “I’m much more about comfort.”
But don’t let that upbeat, relaxed exterior fool you. Bell, 36, doesn’t suffer fools. The reason you rarely see unsanctioned paparazzi shots of celebrity offspring anymore? It’s all due to Bell and Shepard, who launched their personal campaign, called #NoKidsPolicy, after their children were born to protect their privacy and pushed tabloids to follow it.
To date, Bell hasn’t shared any shots of her tots. Not on her social media. Not during jovial talk-show appearances. And certainly not with any photographers. Bell is no pushover, her sense of humor sharp and piercing. “I constantly have a snarky, sassy, judgmental dialogue running through my head. I just never say it out loud,” Bell says.
Yet when it came time to casting the vapid, vampy, and vile estranged wife in the reboot of CHIPS movie, which Shepard wrote and directed, he said Bell was too … sweet.
Initially, Bell was optimistic about co-starring in the film. After all, “I was sleeping with both the director and the writer. I thought I had a very good chance of getting the part. I thought I was going to be in the movie, but then Dax hesitated after he wrote it because he thought I was too likable to play his estranged trophy wife.”
Bell finally landed the role by tapping into her villain. Yes, she too has dark thoughts.
And there were no hard feelings about Shepard’s initial hesitation: “I understand what he was saying. He doesn’t want anyone to subconsciously root for us to be together. It didn’t bother me. There was no ego involved. The director should get what they want.”
In this case, Shepard got what he wanted — actually, a lot more. Because Bell was nursing Delta at the time, she brought her A-game to set.
“I’ve always wanted to physically go the extra mile for my craft. If Christian Bale can do it, if he can do it, our names sound similar enough that I felt I could do it,” says Bell, referring to Bale’s infamous 60-pound weight loss to star in The Machinist.
So here’s what happened.
“I wanted everything about Karen to be a Barbie stereotype. I was breastfeeding at the time. Here’s my bright idea: I won’t pump for 24 hours. I’m gonna go for it. I’m going to tell the kids, ‘Daddy’s making a movie, the food truck is closed.’ Was it painful? Yes. But acting is painful. I had to sacrifice for my craft,” deadpans Bell.
It paid off but also caused friction. Yes, Bell’s cleavage is impressive. But Bell says that Shepard was less than enthralled because her breasts were too daunting.
“Hello, that’s the point. I get them once in my life, one time. I went from a 34A to a 36DD. That’s a massive transformation. I don’t even know where the skin was coming from. Most people go up a cup size. Me and Christian Bale — we do what we need to do,” she says.
Karen’s entire goal is to live the high life without ever paying for a Gucci bag. Bell, who studied acting at NYU and got her start playing Becky Thatcher in a 2001 production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, can’t remotely relate. After all, she’s inspired millions of kids worldwide as the spunky, defiant princess Anna in the blockbuster Frozen, who rescues her sister and dumps a shady suitor, and currently stars on the trippy NBC sitcom The Good Place, which was renewed for a second season. She can’t fathom being a freeloader.
“I’m committed to teaching my children internal self-esteem. I think if you’re looking for self-esteem externally, you’re on a road to sadness,” says Bell. “In our family, you gain self-esteem by committing esteemable acts. You have to earn things. If you don’t put your wrappers in the trash, you don’t get that food again. We’re not big on punishment.”
Once a month, Bell and Shepard play a game with their daughters in which each of them picks two toys to donate to a needy organization. “We teach them how you get along. We talk about how things make people feel. We talk about how lucky we are to have toys,” says Bell. “We start the conversation with the comparison and the feeling. What would it feel like to not have any toys?”
Her current go-to family tome is The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids. “I read about all of them and pick and choose what I want to use,” says Bell. “I use what gets results with my kids.”
If that’s not enough to make you love her, Bell is also a tireless advocate on behalf of children and women, supporting Baby2Baby and Planned Parenthood, among many other organizations. The GOP aims to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding, which doesn’t sit well with Bell. Especially given that most of the federal cash the organization gets comes in the form of reimbursements through Medicaid. “Most of what they do is health and pre-cancer screenings,” says Bell. “I have known people whose lives have been saved by Planned Parenthood. A lot of young people who don’t have anywhere else to go can receive treatment. They’re helping people. As a woman, I would be proud to support Planned Parenthood with my daughters. The amount of work they do for women’s health care is unparalleled.”
Clearly, Bell is a woman’s woman. The same could be said about her husband.
“We have a female dog. He says he always felt he’d be living with this many women, but he thought he’d have a lot more sex,” says Bell.
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
- How Emma Watson Made Belle From “Beauty and the Beast” a Modern Style Icon
- Rebecca Ferguson Can Change a Tire and Rock a Cavalli Pirate Suit
- Cate Blanchett Dresses Daughter in Boys’ Clothes for the Best Reason