Kristen Bell, <EM>Pulse</EM> Kristen Bell, Pulse

Although the third season of Veronica Mars doesn't premiere (on CW) until Oct. 3, Kristen Bell fans don't have to wait that long to catch up with their fave. In the horror film Pulse (opening Friday), Bell plays Mattie, a college student who discovers that the evil dead are coming, via the world's cell phones, computers and more. The actress called TV Guide from her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her dogs and boyfriend — and using a land line, we have to hope. 

TV Guide: Having filmed a lot of movies lately, did you want Veronica Mars to come back? Or would you be happy doing features?
Kristen Bell:
When I moved to Los Angeles I felt like the happiest girl in the world, because I was able to have options at my fingertips very easily. So I'm really happy for the work. I love [Veronica Mars]. I love Pulse. I did a couple of movies last year [while I was] doing Veronica as well, which was fun and stressful and wonderful.

TV Guide: Pulse is a remake of a Japanese ghost story?
Bell:
It is. I saw it at a screening the other night, and it's very scary.

TV Guide: I got chills from the trailer — but then I'm a wimp. 
Bell:
I hope we can live up to the standards [of the original] because it's creepy but you don't realize how creepy it is until the end. It's about technology and how it's really bringing us down instead of bringing us closer together. By the end of the movie, the true devastation sinks in. The American version was rewritten [to be] a little bit more in your face, not necessarily with more gore, but they spelled it out a little bit more. Japanese horror movies tend to be a little more....

TV Guide: Cerebral?
Bell:
Exactly. But you've got to think about your audience. If you're going to go to the movie theater for a scare, this is going to be it.

TV Guide: What's the story? 
Bell:
It focuses on a group of college kids in a city where a series of suicides starts to happen, and the story is how these suicides are linked, how everyone is getting so obsessed with their own technology.... Something in the wi-fi has something to do with those people killing themselves. But what if the place where everyone goes when they die is full? Where would they go?

TV Guide: How's your scream?
Bell:
It's pretty good! I've got be honest, I definitely lost my pipes a little bit. I don't scream as much because my character is not the typical horror-movie female. She's really stubborn and she's really quick-witted, not the type to be scared easily. Initially she wants to deny that all of this is going on, but it eats at her so much that she has no choice. Usually you see the girl hanging out by the pool in her bikini and then she gets chased by the monster while in that bikini for the whole movie — but it's justified by her sunbathing at the beginning. [Laughs] I love when they do that. Mattie's not that girl!

TV Guide: So she's full of derring-do, she's brave and stubborn, she wants to save her friends.... It sure sounds like, hmmm, Veronica.
Bell:
She's got a little Veronica in her. She's definitely got the stubbornness. But she's much more reclusive than Veronica. Mattie's always the one who, if she and her friends go out to a club, goes home early. "Oh, I've got studying to do."

TV Guide: But you're a coed in a horror movie, so there has to be a shower or tub scene, right?
Bell:
You know what, I fought the tub scene so much. I didn't think it was necessary. We had all these discussions about it and finally... I caved in. I wanted to fight the stereotype but I realize that as a businessman, [producer] Bob Weinstein has to make certain decisions. I laid down over that one, but I was very specific about how I wanted it to happen. I said, "You can't just do it where all of a sudden I'm sudsing up [Moaning], 'Ooh, what a tough day it's been. I just need some peach-mango body wash....'" I was not going there at all. But the people who want to see her in a tub get the tub.

TV Guide: Are there bubbles?
Bell:
There are bubbles. Are you kidding me?!

TV Guide: Did filming in Romania make it all the creepier? 
Bell:
Absolutely, because you felt totally alienated, which is the way you're supposed to feel in the movie. The Romanians were actually very welcoming and very nice but on the whole, they're a little older than Americans. They seem like a very professional people, they're not very touchy-feely. So you feel a little out of your element.
 
TV Guide: Did you film it in any dank-castle-type places?
Bell:
No, thank god. But the studio where we filmed was creepy enough. And the craft service was peanuts and coffee, the entire time we were there! That poor crew. We had a great, great crew, and I don't know how they do it. They need to change the rules over in Romania, quite frankly. If I ever go back I'll figure out a better way to do it, maybe buy food and bring it in.... If you've got guys doing manual labor for 15 hours a day, you've got to fuel them.

TV Guide: Look at you, the political activist helping Romanian film crews!
Bell:
[Laughs] I like to get involved.

TV Guide: Don't you have more films in the wings?
Bell:
Yes. They tentatively have a February [release] date for Fanboys, a story about four Star Wars nerds who drive across the country to break in to George Lucas' ranch. You will never laugh so hard in your life. It's hysterical. I play the only girl nerd and I live with Jay Baruchel's character. I'm also a tough girl in this one. I can't get out of playing tough girls! I did Fifty Pills a year and a half ago. [See related Q&A.] It premiered at Tribeca [Film Festival], where it did really well, and is now in the process of being sold.

TV Guide: That's the film your boyfriend made?
Bell:
Yeah, Kevin Mann. He also did Fanboys, actually.

TV Guide: That's nice having a producer for a boyfriend.
Bell:
It's not that I like him; I just like his productions. [Laughs] They're first-rate.

TV Guide: Can you tell us if you're getting married soon?
Bell:
You have to ask him.

TV Guide: Tell him I'm asking him if he's going to marry you.
Bell:
[To Mann] She wants to know if you're going to marry me. [Bell laughs] He says, "No comment." He says I have to be the first one to know.

In Part 2 of this Q&A, appearing next week, Kristen Bell talks about the changes ahead for Veronica Mars, the age-old Logan-versus-Duncan debate, hangin' with the Gilmore Girls, and the missed stage opportunity that broke her heart.

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