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Drake Bell Defends Pal Amanda Bynes: She’s a Coherent Genius and Our Generation’s Carol Burnett

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Amanda Bynes in NYC (SplashNews)

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Drake Bell (Rebecca Sapp/Wireimage)

Here's one person Amanda Bynes won't be calling ugly.

Drake Bell, who starred with Bynes on Nickelodeon's "The Amanda Show" from 1999-2001, claims everything is just fine with his former co-star.

"Amanda and I are close,” Bell tells OK! Magazine. “We worked together for years. I talk to her every day. She’s a sweetheart. I had lunch with her yesterday, and she’s brilliant. She’s good, and she’s healthy.”

Bynes, 27, has been a fixture in the media for several months now due to her bizarre behavior in public, combative tweets, and an alleged drug-related arrest.

“She’s in a place right now where she is searching,” Bell, 26, continues. “She’s ready to be her own person, and do her own thing. She’s experiencing life for real, without the spotlight, for the first time. She is a girl who is finding herself.”

[Related: Was Amanda Bynes Evicted?]

“It hurts me and it upsets me, because I look at her and talk to her, and we’ll sit down for lunch or dinner, and I’m like ‘Amanda, what is going on?’ And she’s like ‘whatever,'" explains Bell. "She’s the same beautiful, funny, artistic, thoughtful person that she’s always been, but she decided to change her hairstyle. She got a bad hairdo and shaved her head, so she had to get extensions. Now everyone’s like ‘oh, you’re crazy.’”

Continued the TV actor: ”I’m like ‘dude, you come off crazy.’ She’s like, ‘I know, but I don’t mean to. I just changed the way I look!’”

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Amanda Bynes's mug shot (AKM-GSI)

After Bynes was arrested last month, she tweeted that seeing her mug shot inspired her to get a nose job. Still, Bell believes people are reading too much into it all:

“If tomorrow I came out and I was tattooed all over, everyone would go ‘oh, he’s crazy. He’s nuts.’ And I go, ‘no, I just wanted tattoos.’ She got piercings in her cheeks, and I’m talking to Amanda who says ‘I just wanted piercings in my cheeks. Big deal.’ I’m like ‘honey, everyone thinks you’re a drug addict, loony and all that—and she’s not.’”

In fact, Bell insists she doesn't have mental problems (“Let me follow you for 24 hours with a camera") and swears he's never witnessed strange behavior (“Anytime I’ve ever been with Amanda, she’s totally coherent, totally there, totally everything”).

So, what on earth exactly is going on?

“She definitely has an issue with the family, but everybody does,” he says. “Everyone has issues with their family, but that’s not what it is.”

Somehow, we're left with more questions than answers after this interview.

“She needs to get out of retirement, and make us laugh again, because that’s what she’s brilliant at,” Bell suggests. “Amanda Bynes is brilliant at making us laugh, and that’s what she needs to do. She’s great at it. The closest to Carol Burnett in our generation is Amanda Bynes. She’s brilliant, she’s a genius, she’s funny as hell.”

Bynes's comedy career may be put on hold considering she was just offered a rap deal to sign with the label Chinga Chang Records. No, seriously.

“It really hurts me seeing what is being written about her, but on the other hand, like Laurence Olivier says, any press is good press,” Bell concludes. “It would make me happier if I knew that she wanted that, but she doesn’t.”

So … did Bell do anything to persuade you to believe all is good with Bynes? Tell us in the comments.

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