In Big Miracle, Kristen Bell, the TV darling from Gossip Girl and the cult-hit Veronica Mars, plays a journalist who tries to break the whale rescue before everyone else in the country. Bell chatted with me about her Alaskan necessities, playing a reporter, and how tough it must have been to be a woman trying to break into the broadcast journalism industry.
What are your Alaska must haves?
All sweaters, long-johns and hotshots. It does hit a point in the cold up here where cashmere, cotton, and nylon doesn't work. And it has to be just heat -- it has to be that sort of extremely inorganic chemical that they put in there. Hotshots are to die for.
Tell us about your character.
I play Jill Jirard, who is a fictional journalist in 1980 who experienced what a lot of young journalists experienced while fighting their way up the ladder. She heard about this story and felt that it could be her big break and so she pitched it to her news station, KABC in Los Angeles. She then volunteered to fly up here and was really excited about it until she got up here and saw kind of how bleak and expensive and cold and difficult it would be. Throughout the course of the film, it turns out her instincts are right and it becomes such a huge news story, that she is bumped off the story but she refuses to accept that.
What initially drew you to the part when you first read the script? What were your first kind of experiences with it?
When I first read it, I was already excited because Ken [Kwapis] was directing it. He’s a really good director and he has the unbelievable reputation of being the nicest man alive. He just knows how to make movies. He knows how to make funny movies, but he also knows how to make real movies and I identified with Jill in my imagination. My father was a news director so I grew up playing with teleprompters and running around his set. So I was very familiar and that’s kind of why I started with a minor in journalism when I was in college. I think I was taken with the idea of, ‘what if I never wanted to act and what if I just stayed on that path?’
What do you think would be the overall message of this story?
That’s not an easily answerable question because there are a lot of different points of view. I think the reason that I liked this script so much is because there’s so many different themes to take away from it. If you are an animal activist, you will read it and see that this is about a whale rescue. If you are a journalist, you could read this and see how, ‘Wow, this is a big story to break.’ If you’re a critic, you could read it and say, ‘that was completely sensationalized. It’s more a comment on the human behavior.’ There’s so many different opinions.
Big Miracle hits theaters on February 3rd.
Additional Reporting by Keertana Sastry