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Telling tales out of school

“High school is a pit of despair,” Kristen Bell declares. “It’s a swirling tornado of insecurities and there’s really nothing good about it.” Truer words have never been spoken.

“High school is a pit of despair,” Kristen Bell declares. “It’s a swirling tornado of insecurities and there’s really nothing good about it.” Truer words have never been spoken. But Bell isn’t bemoaning her teenage years in Michigan. She’s actually talking about the setting of her new film, “You Again.” The comedy follows a successful woman (Bell) who realizes that her brother is going to marry the girl who mercilessly bullied her throughout high school (Odette Yustman), so she sets out to expose the fiancee’s dastardly true colors. With a supporting cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis and newly minted national treasure Betty White, Bell was in co-star heaven while revisiting the darkest period of most people’s lives.

“[In high school] you’re on this learning curve of who you are and who you want to be, and you’re comparing yourself to everyone around you and there’s no sense to it,” she says. “Everyone just wants to be loved and no one feels loved enough.”

Of course, the actress could just as easily be describing Hollywood. “Touche,” she smirks, hoisting one well-arched eyebrow and nodding her head in agreement. “Totally.”

Yet unlike many young actors on a desperate quest for attention and accolades, Bell had to be convinced to move to Hollywood, and it was “You Again” director Andy Fickman who persuaded her. The pair met 10 years ago on an off-Broadway production of “Reefer Madness.” Not long after the show closed, Bell recalls, “Andy said ‘I think you need to move to L.A.,’ and I said, ‘You’re drunk.’” After much insistence, Bell packed her bags and came out west.

She describes the director, with whom she’s currently developing a musical update of the ’80s classic “Heathers,” as a “ball of positive energy. He goes from job to job spreading so much joy. As a director, you’re working with so many elements, and Andy always has a smile on his face. I respect him the most for that. He creates a set where everyone is so happy to be there.”

 
 
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