Kristen Bell has revealed that the original script for Frozen was drastically different than the beloved animated film, which was nominated for two Academy Awards.
“The movie was not written like that at all,” Bell — who voices heroine Princess Anna — revealed to BuzzFeed this morning during an interview to promote I Am That Girl, a new book written by her friend, Alexis Jones. (BuzzFeed’s full interview with Bell will run on Feb. 5.)
In Slant’s review of Frozen, R. Kurt Osenlund specifically points towards the feminist undertones of the film, writing, “The film’s empowering themes of feminine strengths and bonds eventually flourish in novel fashion. There are men among Elsa and Anna, but none are essential to either woman’s self-realization.” But, according to Bell, the original script for Frozen had very different aims.
“It was meant to be a story between these two girls, but we scrapped the entire script 12 months in,” said Bell. “My character initially was written very, what I would call, prissy. She was very girly [and] I kind of pushed more for something weirder. Something different. Something more unique and unlike anything we’d seen before.”
Bell was quick to praise the filmmakers, saying that directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee — the latter of whom also has a screenplay credit on the film — were incredibly open to collaboration during this retooling process because everyone involved wanted the best movie possible. “Every idea I brought to the table, they built upon,” Bell said.
Buck and Lee have also spoken at length about the evolution Frozen underwent during the filmmaking process. For example, did you know Elsa started out as a villain? It also proved tricky for the filmmakers to nail down Princess Anna’s defining characteristics, with Lee describing the process as a “tug of war” to IAmRogue.com. “It’s a lot of back and forth with the characters. They develop a lot over time. The characters are sometimes recognizable from the beginning to where they are now, and sometimes they’re not.” (Disney did not provide a comment at time of publication.)
Bell’s particular ideas included making her character spunkier and more independent, the kind of character Bell would be proud to show her own daughter one day. “I never saw a Disney Princess that I identified with when I was growing up,” she said. “They all had good posture, they all woke up batting their eyelashes, no one had bad breath; I couldn’t relate. I wanted someone who talked way too much, for way too long, and tripped over her shoelaces. I wanted to see someone that felt like me.”
With characters sufficiently tweaked, attention turned to crafting the perfect ending, with a denouement that Bell believes was Frozen’s destiny from the start. “The script kept telling us what it was meant to be and it was meant to be a love story between these two siblings.”
Tipping her hat to The Little Mermaid, Bell added that it shouldn’t be so revolutionary for a Disney Princess to put herself before her husband. “Newsflash! Girls aren’t just looking for husbands any more! They care about enriching their lives and being part of a larger community and being nice to people. All of those ideas went into re-writing this script, so when I read the final product, it was so thrilling.”
Although nothing compared to the public’s reception of the film, which is staggering to say the least. “It’s so exciting that I not only got to be part of a Disney movie, which was always my secret dream, but that I love this character this much. I believed in the story because it was different and new and untold. Then, having it actually be a box office success is amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly articulate how happy that makes me.”