Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell in House of Lies

Kristen Bell in “House of Lies”

As a quick-witted teen detective on “Veronica Mars” and the possibly sociopathic superheroine on “Heroes,” Kristen Bell is undoubtedly a cult TV darling. Still, if you ask us, the petite, über-talented and extremely beautiful blonde is destined for even bigger things. Her acting matches and exceeds the best theatrical heavyweights in the business and has enough talent to fuel several careers. She’s not a bad singer, either.

Born in 1980, Kristen Bell grew up near Detroit, Michigan where she developed a knack for musical theater at a young age, eventually nabbing the role of a Dorothy in a high school production of “The Wizard of Oz” during her sophomore year. “Li’l Abner” followed in her senior year, and so did her first film appearance – an unaccredited role in the indie comedy-drama, “Polish Wedding.”

With college time rolling around, Kristen headed east for NYU’s prestigious theater department. While still there, the 21-year-old was cast as 12-year-old Becky Thatcher in an unsuccessful Broadway musical version of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” After that came a small role in comedian/director Louis C.K.’s timeless cinematic classic, “Pootie Tang,” the lead in a 2001 off-Broadway production of “Reefer Madness” (a musical parody of the infamous 1936 anti-marijuana flick), and a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” with Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.

2004 turned out to be a very big year as Kristen relocated to Los Angeles. Her serious acting chops certainly helped her land a large role as the U.S. President’s kidnapped daughter in David Mamet’s “Spartan,” and she got to show off her singing, dancing and stripping skills in the too-little-seen Showtime film of “Reefer Madness.” Then came a compelling two-episode turn on HBO’s “Deadwood” and, finally, her lead role on Rob Thomas’s cult TV classic, “Veronica Mars.” She also found time to star in a few quickly forgotten thrillers, including the Japanese horror remake, “Pulse.”

Though “Veronica Mars’ never became a ratings hit, it hung on for three seasons on the strength of a number of diehard fans and gaga critics. In that time, Kristen got plenty of opportunity to show of her range as an actress playing the witty, cynical detective whose ingenuity and hard outer shell couldn’t protect her from life’s heartbreaks. “Veronica Mars” also benefited from more than its share of nerd appeal, even attracting ubergeek gurus Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon for cameo roles.

So, when the show was finally cancelled, there was a kind of logic to it when a friendly train ride back to L.A. from San Diego’s Comic-Con turned fateful when writers for NBC’s “Heroes” not so jokingly suggested they’d like to see her on the show. Before long, Kristen had signed on for a 13-episode commitment as the morally ambiguous Elle Bishop — as well as an unaccredited gig as the narrator of the CW’s “Gossip Girl.”

Her career is going great, but for Kristen’s fans the questions continue. Will she stay an enthusiastic, animal loving vegetarian, or be corrupted by a handsome fishmonger? We don’t have the answers, but, nearing her late twenties, Kristen is clearly a pro in the best sense of the word. The only real question is whether she’ll become a superstar, or merely one of show businesses nation’s most respected performers. She’s been excellent in her recent role on Showtime’s “House of Cards,” including a sexy scene we linked to below.

Iconic Character – Kristen Bell on “Veronica Mars”

Kristen is having a fantastic career as she shows off her many talents and continues to look beautiful. But for many fans, her role as Veronica Mars” will always be a favorite. We highlihgted this character in our “TV Girlfriends” feature in the “Married to the Job” catagory. Here’s what we said about the character:

“It takes a real man to date a woman who fancies herself a private investigator…or, at the very least, it takes one who can swear on a stack of bibles that he has no skeletons in his closet. Rest assured, if he’s hiding any secrets, then Veronica Mars will reveal them. (That’s what you get with a girl whose dad is a detective.) But just because you’ve got a clean history doesn’t mean you can keep up with Ms. Mars. When she’s not throwing out pop culture references to give Dennis Miller a run for his money, she’s got a rapier-like wit, and she loves to wield sarcasm as a weapon, though any psychologist worth their salt could tell you that it’s a defense mechanism. Between her mother’s murder and her unpleasant experience while under the influence of GHB, it’s an understatement to say that this girl’s had a rough time of it in recent years, so if you’re the kind of guy who shies away from a potential companion because “she carries a lot of baggage,” you’ll want to take Veronica out of consideration. On the other hand, you won’t want to approach her with the idea of trying to “save her,” either, because she’d only kick your ass. Veronica’s a gorgeous girl who’s quite capable of taking care of herself, and if she ever finds someone who loves her as much as she loves them, she’ll stay with them forever. But are you that guy? That’s the mystery.”

Kristen’s Veronica Mars character ended up winning the Married to the Job round of fan voting, and here’s what we said about what it would be like to date that character:

WHY SHE GOT HERE: She’s a gorgeous girl with a rapier-like wit and an ability to throw out pop culture references that rivals Dennis Miller’s.

DATING PROS: She’s hot, but she’s also a woman who’s quite capable of taking care of herself, and if she ever finds someone who loves her as much as she loves them, she’ll stay with them forever.

DATING CONS: Between her mother’s murder and her unpleasant experience while under the influence of GHB, she’s definitely got a lot of baggage, but if you dare to try and give her the “poor baby” treatment, she’ll kick your ass.

Kristen as Veronica Mars
Here are some of the funniest moments from the show.

Kristen Bell Photos and Videos

Kristen Bell returns tonight on “House of Lies”
The pint-sized blonde stars on Showtime’s new original series “House of Lies,” but we’ve been following her ever since “Veronica Mars.” Check out some of our favorite photos.

Kristen Bell returns tonight on House of Lies

Kristen Bell dances in her underwear
This scene with Kristen Bell dancing in her underwear and showing off her booty for a guy she hooked up with is sizzling hot!

On the Screen

Okay, we’re fans, we admit it. And we have a hard time singling out anything in particular. Her turn on “Deadwood” was chilling as she morphed before our eyes from a seeming innocent to a budding femme fatale with a complete lack of remorse. Her comic work in the underrated “Reefer Madness” is definitely worth a look as the adorable Kristen sings sweetly and dances her heart out, while excelling at some pretty outrageous comedy as her chirpily innocent Mary Lane morphs into a half-naked harlot from hell. Still, out of everything, we’ll take her “Veronica Mars” scenes with Enrico Colantoni as her P.I. father. Whether they were bantering, fighting, or actually being honest with each other, it remains possibly the most endearing onscreen father-daughter relationship we’ve seen. Other notable credits include “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Scream 4,” “Frozen” and recurring gigs on shows like “Heroes,” “Parks and Recreation” and “House of Lies.”

Kristen Says:

On being a vegetarian:
“I have always been an animal lover. I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with — dogs and cats, for example — from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat. I always loved my Brussels sprouts!”

On being clothing-optional:
“I rarely wear clothes when I’m home by myself. I love making breakfast naked. But you’ve got to make sure the gardener’s not coming that day.”

On being profanity-optional:
“I have the mouth of a sailor. I have to remember not to drop F-bombs when I’m ordering my lunch.”

On “Heroes” and her career:
“It is all part of my plan for world domination — and by ‘world,’ I mean Fanboy World.”