Twitter Facebook Instagram Google+ Tumblr YouTube E-Mail WhatsApp Sign In Check Close snapchat
Search
Exit Clear

Lake Bell Reveals the Secret to Swinging Between Babe and Bad-Ass Filmmaker

Lake Bell Reveals the Secret to Swinging Between Babe and Bad-Ass Filmmaker:

Lake Bell is one of those enigmatic performers whose body of work reflects proven acting chops, particularly of the comedic variety (see: Wet Hot American Summer, Children’s Hospital, How to Make it in America), and ballsy, unpredictable choices (see: In a World, a film she wrote, directed, starred in, and her latest movie, the intense thriller No Escape). Oh, and she also knows how to cover the hell out of a magazine. Jesus.

The thing about Bell’s well-rounded accomplishments, particularly in a business which prides itself on unapologetic superficiality, is that she’s seemingly learned to make the system work for her — when to use her self-described “pretty power” and when to direct an episode of Emmy-nominated TV. Playboy recently sat down with Bell to discuss the secrets to her success, what it means to be a female director in Hollywood right now and how she and No Escape co-star Owen Wilson created a friendly family dynamic with their young co-stars in the midst of a film that is bloody, unrelenting and, as Bell calls it, “demented.”


With the continuing discussion of women in Hollywood, I’m curious about the idea of being a beautiful woman and also playing up that part for certain requests or roles and then being able to dial it down. Do you feel you have to choose?
I think in life you choose moments both in front of the camera and behind the camera. Especially after the baby…I’m trying to get back on the horse of feeling pretty, because while it is a beautiful and tremendous privilege that I am so honored to feel, it also ruptures the whole system. It jostles all things that you know; all of the sudden you have to reevaluate how to prioritize and how to feel whole and true to thyself, and all that stuff. Sorry, that’s a very long-winded, wrap-around way of talking about being a lady and using pretty power. I never even consider sort of batting eyelashes an option when I’m thinking about filmmaking. Sometimes it’s required in front of the camera for the nature of what we do, there’s hair and makeup for a reason, you’re supposed to look a certain way for certain things.

With all the attention paid to aesthetic, do you feel that you want or need to play characters with more grit?
Oh yeah, I’m fine with that, all that. You also understand when you’re working for a studio it is what it is. When you make a studio picture there is this sort of quality that has to feel a little fantastical. I understand what that is. It also has to do with the director, too. I happen to be a director who hates makeup and [perfectly done] hair in my actors; I like them to look like they would naturally. I like characters to look like people.

I remember reading about when Jessica Alba wanted to start her company and people wanted her to just be the face of it. Have you experienced anything like that with your shift into directing? Do you find that your male director friends have had a very easy time or that certain doors were open or closed for you?
I always maintain that filmmaking is hard whether you are a man or a woman. It is. To get an independent movie made that is an original work is just fucking hard, whoever you are. That said, in my own personal experience, I know that it is different because I am now entrenched in the female filmmaker community. For me personally, I had great support from my male friends and from my female friends, which is even more important because that can be a little bit dodgy. Because women, we have been successful for a smaller amount of time, and so it’s harder for women to feel comfortable helping other women or give a hand out, because it’s the sense of, “Well I did it on my own, so you better.” There’s some weird ownership there. It is a shame, but it’s real. I’m proudly a board member of Women in Film and it’s really fulfilling to just be in a room with like-minded folk. Then there are some women who say that the mere fact that there is a women and film organization is anti-feminist, because there should be no organization that distinguishes the difference. But I’m pro-camaraderie.

Turning to this latest role in No Escape, one of your first as a leading lady, I heard the development process on this film was super-long. When did you jump in?
It was late in the game. The whole team was already in Thailand when they were like like, “Come, join us.” I remember Skyping with the Dowdle brothers [writer/director John Erick Dowdle and writer Drew Dowdle] while I was in Los Angeles. Having just read the script, I thought, “God, these guys are kind of dark.” I was met with the biggest smiles and palm trees behind them; they just look like the sweetest guys. They really are, to this day when I see them, they are glowing with excitement for what they do for a living, just unfettered happiness.

The family dynamic reads really well — especially those brief moments of happiness before all hell breaks loose.
Owen and I were talking about that yesterday. We shot chronologically, pretty much, and that part felt very much in our wheelhouse. “We both have been in that movie before, right?” John would roll the cameras when the girls playing our daughters didn’t know, so that we could get the camaraderie. Two weeks we all spent together before filming and experiencing Thailand together was enough of a rehearsal and an experience to kind of give us a miniature history.

Given that it’s a somewhat brutal look at a family caught in the middle of an uprising in an unnamed Southeast Asian country, how the Dowdles they explain the darkness in it?
My mom actually came to visit me on set. She had read the script and she was like, “How could such nice boys write something so demented?” And, we don’t really know the answer yet. I guess it’s always the quiet ones you’ve got to worry about.


Playboy Social

Never miss an issue. Subscribe and save today!

Loading...