Lake Bell: “The most difficult thing about acting and directing in a film is acting and directing in a film”

lake-bell-in-a-worldLake Bell has worked steadily in film and television since appearing in her first major role as Alicia Silverstone‘s character’s best friend in the short-lived NBC series Miss Match (which I do not remember ever existing, but apparently it did).  She has also branched out into writing and directing, but she still remains an actress.  She stars in the horror movie Black Rock alongside Katie Aselton, who co-wrote and directed the film.  Bell spoke to Interview magazine about the way the film was shot and how she feels about working with other directors now that she is a director herself.

Bell reveals how the cast’s performances were helped by shooting the film chronologically, explaining, “We shot everything chronologically, so each dark moment was on the slate, on the schedule, and we built towards those moments. We were ready, emotionally, for all of them. We started at a place of levity—the movie does start with this sort of talky-talky girls’ relationship movie and it takes a vast curve into darkness very quickly. Every milestone and every moment in the film where the stakes get higher and higher, and the girls become more animalistic and the men become more hunters—I think we were really ready for and prepared us for the next moment. By the time we were naked, we were already feeling very vulnerable and raw and scared. By the time we were kicking ass and doing that fight scene with Jay Paulson, we had been prepped. We had been emotionally on this shoot and we were tired and we were exhausted, but we were motivated to kick some ass.”

Though Bell is primarily an actress, she has written and directed short films before and the first feature film she directed, In a World…, premiered at Sundance this year.  She also stars in that film, and she says that it’s difficult pulling double duty, pointing out,  “The most difficult thing about acting and directing in a film is acting and directing in a film. Every ounce of your physical and emotional being, and your analytical and thoughtful and producorial being, is being exercised at all points. You are 100% working on overdrive, but because it is only for X amount of days, if you have the stomach for it, you hustle through. It’s a massive undertaking, and I think preparation is the key to success for that endeavor.”

Nonetheless, just because she has directed her first feature doesn’t mean that Bell plans on not working as an actress with out directors.  She explains, “When you’re a director, you have great respect for directors. I am really pretty loyal to any director that I am working for and I want to help them realize whatever story and mood and tone that they’re trying to realize. As an actor, you really just are a cog—you are an important cog, but you are just a piece of the machine in the same way that the DP is a piece of the machine and the same way that the hair and makeup person is a piece of the machine. We’re all part of it and we’re all incredibly and equally important but it is your job to perform and to deliver.”

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