At the movies

Lake Bell: I like ‘relatable’ characters

 
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Lake Bell, one of the few actresses in Hollywood who can also add the titles of writer and director to her name, swapped the world of quirky independent film for an international Disney movie in her latest on-screen role.

The 35-year-old wrote, directed and starred in her own independent movie In a World… in 2013, winning critical praise for her comic look into the rarefied world of voiceover artists. Now Bell stars opposite Jon Hamm in the Walt Disney feel-good sports drama Million Dollar Arm. She plays Brenda the doctor who helps sports agent J.B. Bernstein in his improbable quest to train two baseball pitchers from India.

She talked to Reuters:

What did you like about the character of Brenda?

I enjoy Brenda’s utter steadfast truth and her ability to express herself via tough love, which is something I relate to deeply in my own life.

It is such a cliche question, but millions of women would probably want to know what it’s like playing opposite Jon Hamm.

How do I answer that in a new way? Jon and I are good friends. We have known each other for a long time. He comes on [satirical TV series] Children’s Hospital occasionally, so he is very playful and fun. He is really goofy and hilarious, and people probably know that somewhat from his SNL career … But he really is a comedy fan and great comedy player. In this film, he plays the straight man to a lot of fish-out-of-water elements, which I think is incredibly difficult and takes a comedic brain to know how to play the straight man with perfection.

Some might say you are a knockout, but in your film and this film you play somewhat disheveled, messy women.

I really enjoy playing characters who are realistically put together. I don’t walk around in stilettos and fancy dress all the time. That’s just not my life, and I don’t feel comfortable that way. I enjoy playing characters I can relate to personally who aren’t “glam squad” all the time.

This might be your most high-profile role.

It’s interesting to think about it that way. Because it’s Disney, it’s a very universally acceptable film for a lot of different demographics. This is the first time I am in a film I can say to any family member to go and check it out, and I am not embarrassed by some weird boob scene or something. It’s safe. It is incredibly sweet, and it’s relatable for young relatives, older relatives and everything in between. That, for me, is a big deal.

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