Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Yes, that was Jillian Bell on the jumbotron at a New Kids On The Block show

Yes, that was Jillian Bell on the jumbotron at a New Kids On The Block show

Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Jillian Bell began her career as a writer on Saturday Night Live, but it wasn’t long before she was stealing scenes in everything from Workaholics and Eastbound & Down to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Now, the actor and comedian is headlining films like Brittany Runs A Marathon and Lynn Shelton’s Sword Of Trust and lending her voice to star-studded animated projects like Fox’s Bless The Harts and the Zac Efron-starring Human Discoveries. And if that weren’t enough, she also recently joined the cast of the long-gestating, we-can’t-believe-it’s-actually-happening Bill & Ted Face The Music. We asked Bell our 11 Questions, and her answers touched on everything from Clue to the Tower Of Terror to losing her mind at a New Kids On The Block concert.

1. What’s your favorite fast food menu item?

Jillian Bell: There’s so many good ones to choose, but I feel like the soft taco from Taco Bell. Classic. I love it. I just get the lettuce and the cheese and the meat and I’m good. That’s like my favorite after-party food. I don’t do it often, but when I do, boy, do I get a couple of soft tacos. One of my favorite things to ask big celebrities I’ve worked with is when’s the last time you had Taco Bell.

AVC: What kind of answers do you get?

JB: Almost a hundred percent of them say that they’ve never had it or haven’t had it since they were 14.

AVC: Have you been to any of the Taco Bell Cantinas where you can get booze?

JB: What are you saying to me right now? This is a thing?

AVC: Yes. It’s like a new brand. Sometimes there are DJs in them.

JB: So it really is like an after-party. Like, what I normally call Taco Bell is the after-party. This is the actual official after-party.

2. If you could relive any event or moment in your own life, what would it be?

JB: This one is very tricky. I’ve had so many lovely moments, but I’d probably go with this one: One of my good friends had a really nice hookup where they were able to get a tour guide to Disneyland. So, after we worked together on a project, she took me and my sister to Disneyland and we got to jump lines and go on all the rides. And, for me, one of the biggest moments was going on the Tower Of Terror. And I want to be clear, I still call it the Tower Of Terror, even though it’s changed. It’s not only my favorite ride, it’s, like, my favorite place to be. If anyone ever asks me, “If you could be anywhere in the world—Greece, Italy, Australia, where would you be?” I always say the Tower Of Terror. So this was a really big moment in my life, getting to go on the Tower Of Terror in a private elevator where it was just me and two other people.

AVC: Why do you love the Tower Of Terror so much?

JB: What’s not to love? You’ve got thrills. You’ve got a little bit of old Hollywood—I’m referring to your original Tower Of Terror, of course. But I love the feeling of your guts being in your chest when you drop. I love that you get a picture of you when your hair is standing on all ends. It just brings me so much joy. It makes me feel like I’m 10 years old again.

3. Who’s your favorite fictional villain?

JB: I have a lot. I feel like we gotta give it up for Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo. I mean, two perfect villains in the same movie. That’s huge. Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates in Misery. Just bravo all day. I want to see that woman and her sledgehammer just having a good old time. But I really want to give it up for Michael Parks in Tusk. Have you seen Tusk?

AVC: I have. He is so good in that.

JB: He’s ridiculously scary and amazing in that film. He has a scene that I tell everyone about, where Justin Long—and there’s going to be spoilers—passes out from drinking a tea that has something in it, and wakes up and he doesn’t have legs anymore and he’s waking up very slowly and coming out of this sedation. And Michael Parks is delivering this whole [monologue] about why he lost his legs, and he does it with a little wink to the audience and a smile on his face, and it makes me laugh so hard at it even though it’s so disturbing. So, props to him.

4. What’s a line from film or television that you’ve incorporated into your personal vocabulary?

JB: I feel like when I was younger I quoted a lot of movies and TV shows and now, I don’t know, I’m just so in awe of everybody’s work. There’s one I caught myself saying a couple of times: “Help me, I’m poor” from Bridesmaids. Kristen Wiig is so funny in that role.

5. Who would play you in the movie of your life?

JB: I mean, if it’s just based on looks: Angelina Jolie.

AVC: Okay.

JB: I can’t believe you didn’t laugh at that joke.

AVC: I did! I did laugh.

JB: You’re being very sweet. Angelina Jolie would never play me, but I would be very excited if she would. I fell in love with her in Girl, Interrupted. But to answer your question, I feel like, oh, I mean anyone would be a compliment. I love Drew Barrymore. Reese Witherspoon would be amazing. I’m just thinking of blond women who have naturally wavy hair. I would love if Diane Keaton played me and we just never address that we’re not the same age. That would make me very happy.

AVC: Are you a big Diane Keaton fan?

JB: Huge. Yeah. Huge. I’m a fan of her as an actress, but I’m also a fan of her as just a human being. I’ve never met her, but, like, her Instagram is a beautiful, beautiful thing. She just is always showing off her outfit, hiding her face and wearing the biggest belt you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

AVC: Do you follow Glenn Close on Instagram?

JB: I do. I do follow Glenn Close. She makes me very happy, too.

AVC: Yeah, her content is top-tier.

JB: And also Candice Bergen. I’m going to give a shout-out: If you’re not following Candice Bergen, do it immediately.

AVC: What would a movie about your life look like?

JB: You know, it’s interesting because I’m lucky to have a really lovely life, but I want to say horror because I love horror films so much. I hope that doesn’t turn into my real life but I love a horror movie, so I would be excited. Let’s say, dream scenario, Diane and Tim Curry are playing witches. It doesn’t matter that he’s a man. They’re both playing witches in the story of my life.

6. What’s a movie that you’ll always stop and watch if you’re flipping channels?

JB: I have, like, a million. Clue is my favorite movie of all time. If it’s on, cancel the plans for the day. I love Singin’ In The Rain, Goodfellas, When Harry Met Sally. And then there’s the ones that aren’t necessarily some of my favorites, but I can’t turn them off. Like My Best Friend’s Wedding and Something Borrowed and That Thing You Do. And I have this weird thing about The Departed. If that’s on, I don’t notice, and I’m like, “Oh, it’s over.” Like, I’ve watched the entire thing without realizing it.

AVC: Was Clue one of your favorite movies growing up?

JB: Yeah, it was. It was one of the first movies I got on VHS and my parents were smart and just put it on on constant replay. I loved watching it. I thought all of the character actors and actresses were just the tops. If I’m having a blue day, I’ll put it on because it’s so ridiculously funny but also scary in parts and there’s the murder mystery—all my favorite things.

7. What possession can you not get rid of?

JB: My dog, Vallejo. I know that’s weird to call him my possession, but I do call him my son, and I don’t know which one is weirder, calling him my son or my possession. Now that I’m saying it, it makes me laugh really hard to think of being like, “This is my possession, Vallejo.” But he really is one of the great loves of my life, and the only reason I don’t like to work a lot is because he can’t come with me. He’s a big guy. So I’m always excited when I finish something to come home to him.

AVC: What kind of dog is he?

JB: He’s a German shepherd mix. He’s a rescue.

8. What specific skill would you bring to a post-apocalyptic society?

JB: Town slut? No, I’m just joking. Has anyone ever said that?

AVC: Not that I know of.

JB: I’m totally joking. I feel like I’m a pretty good organizer, so I might, you know, be good at gathering the villagers—I want to call them villagers—and try to figure out the plan. I might not be the best at creating the plan, but I’m good at getting people to an event. So maybe that’s what I would do. That is so lame. That’s such a lame answer.

AVC: A lot of people’s answers are usually something along the lines of “Well, I can be a good administrator.”

JB: Yeah, “town secretary.”

9. Who is the most underrated person in your industry right now?

JB: Oh, man. Underrated. It’s hard with that question, because it sounds like they’re not working enough and maybe they aren’t, but I feel like the people I’m thinking of do work a lot. I just want to see them in everything. I’d say Ryan Gaul and Fortune Feimster. Ryan and I were at Groundlings, and Fortune and I went through the Sunday Company together at the Groundlings. I just think they’re both so ridiculously talented. Ryan is on the show The Last O.G. with Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish, but I want to see him in everything. I truly feel like he’s the next Tom Hanks or Steve Carell. Anytime I have to do something with him, I break. It doesn’t even matter if he’s playing the straight man. I laugh at whatever he’s doing.

And then Fortune I’ve known forever, and she has done Chelsea Lately and The Mindy Project. But, man, talk about someone who is just special. She is such a great human being and a ridiculously funny stand-up comedian. So I’m looking forward to watching both of them do their thing and keep getting out there, but I wished everyone on the planet knew about them.

10. If you could be in any band, past or present, which one would it be?

JB: I would love to be a backup singer for Tony Bennett. Or someone like Rod Stewart. I’m secretly 108 years old in my real life. And I love, I love artists like Tony Bennett. I went and saw him, I think, three times at the Hollywood Bowl, and I’ve seen Rod Stewart at the Hollywood Bowl as well. The third time I saw Tony was when he was performing with Lady Gaga, and I was just like, she is doing exactly what I would do if I were her. I would come out, I would do the pop star scene, and then I would go on tour with Tony Bennett.

AVC: Have you been to any other good concerts lately?

JB: Oh, yeah. I mean, let’s talk about it. I went to the New Kids On The Block Mixtape Tour, and I lost my damn mind. I was screaming as if I was on fire for three hours. I think I screamed, “Donny, look at me!” 45 times. He didn’t, by the way, but it’s all good. I wouldn’t either if a strange 35-year-old woman was screaming at me for an entire concert.

AVC: Did you still remember all the words?

JB: Every word. It’s the best. You go back to feeling all the old feels and being so excited to have a crush on someone and then you realize that you’re grown up and you need to relax.

AVC: Do they still have it?

JB: They still have it. And they look great. And they sound great. It was a really good time. Also, I got on the jumbotron. I thought I might be on it, so I did a weird thing where I just looked at it like a psychopath, saying the words without blinking. Someone’s got a tape of it and sent it to me, and I posted it on my Instagram. So if you ever want to see what a maniac looks like, check it out.

11. What would you do during The Purge?

AVC: Being a fan of horror, I assume you know the Purge movies.

JB: Yes. Love the Purge movies.

AVC: So what would you do?

JB: I would like to think that I would go out and I wouldn’t commit any crime, but I would just walk around in what I’d like to call a “flame suit,” which is a suit that pushes flames out of all parts of it, but doesn’t burn me. Just nobody can get near me. So I would be able to walk around and see what’s happening in the town. Realistically, I probably wouldn’t do that. I would just hide in someone’s basement the entire day. But part of me wants to get out and see the festivities. I don’t want to do any of the killing or the crying but I would like to be in the craziest outfit possible where no one wants to even approach me.

Bonus 12th question from Jimmi Simpson:

AVC: Jimmi Simpson wants to know if you had to eat one meal three times a day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

JB: I mean, it’s got to be either a chicken burrito or pizza with a bunch of toppings on it. This is what I’m thinking: My game plan is that you can break it down and have it different ways. Like, you can still get the chicken burrito, but then decide to make a rice bowl out of that, you know what I mean? Or just have the chicken or just have the tortilla and cheese and make a quesadilla. I’m looking at ways to be versatile.

AVC: That is a very smart, thought-out answer.

JB: Thank you. I just thought of that. I’m very proud.

AVC: Now it’s on you to come up with the 12th question that we’re going to ask the next person we interview. 

JB: Okay, how about this? If you could pick one person that you know or you don’t know—so it could be family, friends, or celebrities, someone of the past, too—and you could have five minutes to tell them how you feel, who would you pick? What would you say and why?

AVC: How would you answer that?

JB: I mean, I feel like I just got that moment. This year I got to meet Tim Curry. He’s my favorite actor of all time. And I got to talk to him for five minutes, and I told him how much he meant to me and how watching him made me want to be an actor. He played so many different roles, and never did the same thing twice. He’s had the most interesting career, and I just thanked him from the bottom of my heart.