Roundtable Interview With Lake Bell ,
Star/Writer/Director/Co-Producer of “In A World”
August 13, 2013, Dallas , Texas
Presbyterian Outlook: What drew you to the idea of voiceovers?
Lake Bell : Ever since I was a little girl, I was mimicking accents and dialects. Someone proclaimed that I had a good ear, and of course any validation as a kid and you’re like “Oh, I should stick with that…” When my family would have people over from foreign countries, I would think, “What strange and exotic people these are, to speak another language and have these foreign accents…” and I started to collect them like stamps. Fast forward to drama school in England , where you just try everything---I knew I wanted to be an actor at a young age---and voice is the ultimate acting tool. And voice acting is mind-boggling because you’re not judged by what you look like…in the movie, the guy on the speaker phone is supposed to be a big, fat, Jewish agent, and he’s played by…me. That’s not somebody I would normally be cast as, but in voiceover you can be anybody, and that’s pretty cool.
PO: I was interested in the way you handled the moral dilemma of your sister and her husband, the kind of “almost affair”---is it an affair if you’ve thought about it, and want to go through with it----but don’t?
Lake Bell : Is this therapy? (laughs)
PO : What is your definition?
LB: I joke about the “therapy” comment, but I do think that writing is therapeutic, as you probably know, also. You can express yourself different ways, and when you’re creating characters, they’re amalgamations of experiences or exposure you’ve had in the past, whether it’s your own personal dilemmas or that of your family, and how it imprinted on your consciousness. That dynamic was something I’ve seen very close to me, so I wanted to investigate it, and also illuminate that good people can, you know, screw up at times, and that they can also persevere after it.
PO : But you wanted to be the rescuer, or create the character that was the rescuer…
LB: Yes…
PO : The reconciler…
LB: Yes, that’s the reason I have the story line, that Carol wants to be a star, but that’s the goal of her father, so she’s attacking it in vain, versus what she’s really good at, which is helping people, and being attuned to other people and how they represent themselves, and trying to aid those whom she loves. And even when she gets rejected, which rocks her world, still, at the end, she’s trying to help people be better versions of themselves.
PO : Is there a particular accent that you can’t do?
LB: I’ve always studied accents, because of conservatory training—you take it on totally phonetically. You can get up in there and think about where it’s placed in your mouth, like British in the front and American in the back---whether it’s through the nose, where the breath is supported----
PO : Where did you come up with that “swallow the nose” as foreplay?
LB: Ken Marino came up with that idea, and we got a lot of great noses in this movie---he is a master of weird requests. He asked if he could French kiss my nose in that scene, and I was obviously like, “Yes,” and while I was trying to keep from laughing, I then told him to do it twice, so they would know he meant it, that it wasn’t just a miss.
PO : How do you write “funny”?
LB: Umm, I think you do what you’re comfortable doing. I couldn’t write sketch—it’s a different type of comedy. I can write the type of comedy that I think is funny, that feels natural to me, that is observational from my own exposure to the world. “You do what you know” is a cliché for a reason.
PO : It was funny.
LB: Thank you.
PO : I was chuckling throughout.
LB: I’m glad. That’s its purpose. Of course the message is there, too, but first and foremost, it’s a comedy, and people should enjoy it.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas