Kristen Bell's Frozen Character Is A 'Love Letter' To Her 11-Year-Old Self

While eating out of a dog dish as a child (no, seriously), Kristen Bell felt underserved by the princesses she saw onscreen. They were all so poised and perfect, and none of them were eccentric enough to relate to animals on a reverse anthropomorphic level — whereby a human might take on canine traits. When Bell was cast as the voice of Anna in the early stages of "Frozen," it gave her the opportunity to help engineer a new sort of Disney princess from the ground up.

Anna is the kind of gal whose bedhead and drool are sharply juxtaposed with men's fantasies of a "lovely" princess in the kingdom of Arendelle. She oversleeps on her sister's coronation day, get knocked on her ass by a horse, and recognizes aloud how "awkward" she is as she stammers in admiration of a handsome (but secretly evil) prince.

In short, she's not your traditional fairytale princess. It's the kind of characterization Bell would have liked to see when she was younger. Looking back on the various roles she has played in her career, including her voice performance in "Frozen," the actress told Vanity Fair in 2020:

"I think what feels best about that movie is that because I was involved since its inception and was, like, the first one cast, I think that I was really able to shape that role into a love letter to my 11-year-old self. Most princesses that you see onscreen, or at least the ones that I did when I was 11, they weren't nearly as clumsy as I was. They didn't talk too much. They didn't wear their heart on their sleeve as much as I did, and they just weren't as weird or quirky. And I really wanted to represent all the little weirdos out there."

'I used to eat my dinner next to the dog...'

As for her tendency to share the company of canines while eating, that's something the young Kristen Bell (who also cameoed as a sloth in "Zootopia") did entirely by choice.

"I used to eat my dinner next to the dog, like in a dog dish with my face when I was like five, six, seven years old," she explained. "So I was like, 'I like my dog better than you guys, and I'm gonna eat down here.' It's just, you know, a little off the beaten path."

Superficially, Anna's sister, Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, would seem to fit the mold of a conventional Disney princess (and queen-to-be) better than Anna, but Elsa is also a misfit who is unable to control her snow and ice powers and fears having them exposed. It's only through learning to accept herself and embrace the sisterly love she had been keeping at arm's length that she and Anna are able to live happily ever after.

There was a time in the 2010s when "Frozen" was inescapable. Suddenly, everyone was naming their daughters Elsa, and a person seemingly couldn't go anywhere without hearing the Oscar-winning song "Let It Go." The movie translated across cultures to become a billion-dollar global box-office phenomenon, and to this day, it remains one of the highest-grossing film of all time. Clearly, there were a lot of other people out there in the audience, both young and old, who found that they, like Bell, could more easily relate to a girl with bedhead than they could the usual brand of picture-perfect Disney princesses and princes.