It might seem like the most enviable position imaginable for a mother of two girls, aged 4 and 6, to find herself the star of a Disney blockbuster franchise featuring sisters, a princess and a queen. But Kristen Bell, who voices the adored Princess Anna in the Frozen franchise, says otherwise.
"My kids will be watching the Frozen video while I'll be cooking dinner, and I'll hear First Time in Forever [a track from the 2013 hit], and I'll sing along with it from the kitchen, and they'll yell out, 'Mum!'"
"They don't care for me interrupting their Frozen video. And I'll tell them, 'Do you know how lucky you are that I can sing you to sleep?' And they'll say, 'Get out!' They're very normal kids," she says. "I believe it's in your DNA to reject your parents in order to assimilate to an outside tribe. And I get it. Everything my mum was into I was also, like, 'Gross!'"
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Bell, 39, whose day job is starring on the award-winning sitcom The Good Place, resumes her role as Princess Anna along with onscreen sibling, Queen Elsa, played by Idina Menzel in the sequel to Frozen, which raked in a phenomenal US$1.3 billion worldwide.
"The movie picks up a few years later. Everyone in the kingdom is happy and healthy, but then the siblings go on a dangerous adventure outside their kingdom of Arendelle in unknown territory. During this trip, they learn about their family history as well as secrets that threaten the kingdom."
Writer/directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also return, along with Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana, and they're joined by newcomers Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Rachel Matthews and Jason Ritter.
With so many quality animated movies being produced these days, what does Bell make of this particular franchise's immense popularity?
"There is a tangible reality to the elements in Frozen and the messages are strong, the main one being: Take your family seriously and believe in them. I think the messages we wanted to convey were picked up by young kids because they're honest and maybe a little more raw than most fantasy movies.
"And I have to say, that during the talks about Frozen 2 the creators wanted to make sure it wasn't just episode two. What was important was, what is the next thing to say about these people who will impact the audience? And Jen [Lee] journalled as the characters, Elsa and Anna, for months before she wrote the script. The story has a lot of life lessons and I think Jen really nailed it."
Offscreen, Bell's life also has a fairytale quality to it. She married actor Dax Shepard, 44, this year following a 12-year relationship. The two successful actors are raising their daughters, Lincoln, 6, and Delta, who will turn 5 next month, in their own kingdom of sorts, a newly renovated mansion in Los Angeles, recently featured in design bible Architectural Digest, no less. Bell, unusually open, is quick to dispel that myth.
"I'm not unhappy." She pauses. "But I struggle, just like anyone else does. I suffer from anxiety and depression. It's in my body and not necessarily my circumstances, which isn't the same for everybody."
Cognisant of her position in life, and assuredly in the top 1 per cent when it comes to earnings, she glances at the poster of Frozen 2 behind her and says, "You can look at that [poster] and say, 'Her depression and anxiety probably doesn't come from her circumstances.'
"My mother suffered from the same thing. She's a nurse and she was always open and honest with me. When I was 18, she took me aside and said, 'If you ever start to feel this, talk to me because there are things that can help you.' Mental health is really incredibly important and unfortunately, there's still a big stigma attached. My grandmother suffered from it as well, but back then you just drank. Now we have so many ways to cope with it."
Acting has certainly proved therapeutic for her. "Yes. When I played the character in Bad Moms [2016 comedy] who is perpetually nervous, that was oddly therapeutic for me because I was able to get it all out."
The recent announcement that the network will not be renewing The Good Place for another season (creator Mike Schur said he felt four series was the right lifespan) hit Bell hard though. "I was feeling very low energy for a while after I found out," she says.
How does Shepard, who is 15 years sober after battling addiction, cope with her struggles?
"We found forms of communication over the years to stop each other's triggers, which you have to do in any marriage to keep it healthy. But in the beginning, he didn't know how to handle it. Sometimes I'll say to him, 'I need you to be quiet,' or 'I want to hear you talk,' or 'Can I just get a hug?'
"Even recently, around the time we found out that The Good Place was ending, he was watching me, trying not to be invasive, and he finally said, 'I haven't known how you wanted to be treated this week and I probably could have done some things better but if there's anything you need from me let me know.'
"I'm very lucky," she smiles. "He's a wonderful husband."
Who: Kristen Bell
What: Frozen 2
When: In cinemas next Thursday