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Sundance 2013: Lake Bell Wants to Vanquish "Sexy Baby Talk" Via Her Directorial Debut 'In a World...'

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire January 27, 2013 at 12:29PM

Lake Bell, the tall and lanky comedienne best known for work on Adult Swim's "Children's Hospital" and HBO's now defunct show "How To Make It In America," proved herself to be a quadruple threat to reckon with last week when "In a World...," her feature directorial-screenwriting debut (which she also co-produced and stars in) world premiered at Sundance to a rave response from the packed house at the Library.

So you’re out to make a difference with this movie.

I kind of am (laughs), with a gentle prod. I never wanted to make a movie that felt mean or tough. It’s sweet. All of these people do these things because they’ve been misdirected.

Did you generate your own material because casting directors don’t quite know what to do with you? You have this unique combo of great looks paired with a singular, off-kilter comedic sensibility.

I think all actors will struggle to find their place until either a break happens or they start generating their own content. So I started generating my own content. I’ve been working consistently, and I like that. I don’t ever think, ‘Oh, why didn’t I get a break?’ I feel like I’ve had a lot of little breaks, which is nice. I can still go to the grocery store without getting mobbed. I like that.

When I first came out here I was just doing drama… whatever I auditioned for. I couldn’t land an audition for comedy. I kind of had to pry my way in there. “What Happens In Vegas” was the pinnacle for me. Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher and Rob Corddry… when I met Rob, he then asked me to do “Children’s Hospital.” That troupe of people, the “Children’s Hospital” troupe, has been very sacred to me for over five years. It went from a web series to Adult Swim and an Emmy; it’s just insane! That team has given me great strength.

"Children's Hospital"
Adult Swim "Children's Hospital"

I just have been very picky about what I want to take and be in, even when I’m advised not to be so picky. But I am because I’ve been writing for so many years now. 

This has happened honestly a few times, where I will screen test for a big studio and they will be so jazzed. I improvise and I do a bunch of fun stuff. Then I get down the line and it’s always like, ‘It doesn’t look right.’ My face is a little different. I don’t look like a supermodel but I’m not a dog. It’s like, ‘She’s hilarious, so she’ll bring funny and she’s almost hot enough to be the leading lady, but not quite. It’s too improvised to be a leading lady.’ Then they always end up going with the name. That can be discouraging. It does add fuel to the flame to make your own projects.

When I made this movie, I was like, 'I don’t know what the big deal is? Will people not get it?' But that’s also specifically my tone; I’m controlling that whole experience. I wouldn’t have put myself in the movie though if I wasn’t right for it. I just happened to be very right for the part. But I only want myself to succeed. If I wasn’t quite right I would just direct it. I might do that in the future.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Lake Bell, Interviews

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