Lake Bell knows how to do action now too
The “No Escape” star wants to do her thing and not be pigeonholed.
Right now Lake Bell is known as a comedic actress. She is and she isn’t. She’s done plenty of drama, and not just before she broke through into the mainstream with the voiceover comedy “In a World…”, which she wrote, directed and starred in. And she’s done plenty of it since. She even stars in the new thriller “No Escape,” in which she and Owen Wilson play parents who arrive in an Asian country (they filmed in Thailand) right as a violent coup turns the city into a bloodbath, forcing two funny actors to become action stars.
This was one of your first big roles after “In a World…” It’s strange that someone saw that and thought, “Put her in a serious action movie!”
I know, I know! [Laughs] That’s why it’s so badass, because they were like, “We’re doing things our own way.” I’m super-thankful they had the vision to say, “You know what, this person — because she’s unexpected in this action picture — becomes an interesting choice, as opposed to what we’ve seen before.” Sometimes you have to be bold in your casting.
You did the indie “Black Rock,” which is partly an action film too. How is it changing gears into action? Did you do your own stunts, like jumping across buildings?
Yeah, we totally did that stuff. Obviously we had doubles if necessary, but they wanted to show us doing everything. Part of what I think is unique about this movie is they’re real people. The way we attack these stunts and how we navigate each event is not clean. It’s very messy. It’s very realistic. We’re not all of a sudden superheroes, where we know how to jump. We don’t know kung fu out of nowhere. It’s almost an emotional action picture, where you’re invested in these people and their lives. They’re not perfect. They have interpersonal problems. Annie and Jack have some things in their marriage they’re figuring out. It’s all very real.
It’s interesting to have a very serious, harrowing movie starring two people mostly, though not exclusively, known for comedy. Did that make it easier, that you’re both funny people?
Well, there weren’t a lot of laughs. We didn’t joke around at all on the movie, which is funny because you’d think if I did a movie with Owen Wilson, it would be a laugh riot. But I feel like I know him in a serious way. [Laughs] We’ve cried together and yelled at each other, but we didn’t joke around a lot. All of a sudden we’re on this junket, and it’s like, “Oh, you’re kind of funny!” [Laughs]
You’ve done plenty of drama in the past. Do you feel you have to fight for these roles?
You know, I feel lucky that I don’t feel too pigeonholed. I do jump around a bit, whether it’s “Black Rock” or “Wet Hot American Summer” or a British romantic comedy [“Man Up”] or directing my own picture. I’m getting away with that. And now I’m a mom. I’m into lots of hats.
Lake Bell, with Owen Wilson, tries to survive a coup in an unnamed Asian country in “No Escape.”