With 'In a World …,' Lake Bell puts her film where her mouth is

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Bell stressed that her father is "a fine man today," but in the meantime those earlier bruised feelings worked for the screenplay. "Father-son competition is expected," she said. "Father-daughter competition, that's new, that's unique, that's something to investigate. I'm exhilarated to write about that."

Bell also wrote married-couple roles specifically for Rob Corddry — with whom she co-starred in "What Happens in Vegas" and the Corddry-created Adult Swim comedy series "Childrens Hospital" — and Michaela Watkins, the former "Saturday Night Live" actress who also starred in Bell's debut short film, "Worst Enemy." Bell enlisted Ken Marino, another "Childrens Hospital" star, to play Gustav, a goofily beefy voice-over talent vying to say those three magical words in an upcoming blockbuster trailer, and her "What Happens in Vegas" friend Cameron Diaz to make a cheeky cameo appearance.

"I couldn't put all my friends in this movie because not all of them were really right for every part," Bell said. "I want people to shine, and as the director I want things to be accurate."

A self-described organization freak, she also tried to anticipate every shot before filming began. "Every scene is shot-listed with a visual storyboard that I've drawn and then a bird's-eye view of where the camera is in the room with a blueprint of the location," she said.

Melamed said Bell's preparation as a first-timer rivaled that of Woody Allen and the Coen brothers when he worked with them. "She's able to deal with many things simultaneously, things that really require thoughtful decisions all at once, and that's a great ability for a director to have," the 57-year-old actor said.

Now that Bell has caught the writing-directing-lead-acting bug, she'd like to do it all again. She said she has started writing a comedy about marriage called "What's the Point?" Note: She married tattoo/visual artist Scott Campbell earlier this summer.

But she'd really like "In a World…" to open the doors to, yes, more voice-over work. She'd previously voiced Wagon Witch #2 in "Shrek Forever After," a small part in the TV series "TRON: Uprising" and a character in the video game "Prototype," but since making "In a World…" she landed the part of Mona Lisa in DreamWorks Animation's upcoming "Mr. Peabody & Sherman."

"It is a very skilled talent set and very specific, and I respect that there are people who are experts," Bell said. "I am not necessarily an expert, but I am a fan, and I'm a student of voice-over, and I hope to get better at it."

Melamed said he's impressed by Bell's vocal abilities. "She's very good at hearing things, at hearing differences, hearing specifics and also at controlling them, making her voice do many, many different things," he said. "She just has that facility as an actor. As a voice-over artist her voice is very hushed. It has a coolness. It's very cool sounding."

In a way, "In a World…" could be seen as her feature-length demo reel.

Said Bell with a laugh: "I have a 93-minute audition that I'm toting around the world to show people that I could be the next voice-over star."

mcaro@tribune.com

Twitter @MarkCaro

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