Lake Bell

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Biography

An intelligent, appealingly offbeat American actress, Lake Bell earned her dramatic training in England before making the leap to the small screen with such projects as "War Stories" (NBC, 2003) opposite Jeff Goldblum and "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003) opposite Alicia Silverstone. She came to the attention of critics and audiences alike as Sally Heep, a lawyer who beguiles James Spader on "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004) and "Boston Legal" (ABC, …
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Job Title

Actor, Director, Producer, Writer

Born

March 24, 1979

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About

An intelligent, appealingly offbeat American actress, Lake Bell earned her dramatic training in England before making the leap to the small screen with such projects as "War Stories" (NBC, 2003) opposite Jeff Goldblum and "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003) opposite Alicia Silverstone. She came to the attention of critics and audiences alike as Sally Heep, a lawyer who beguiles James Spader on "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004) and "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08) and then booked the lead on her own series, the sci-fi aquatic adventure "Surface" (NBC, 2005-06). An excellent comedic second banana, Bell delighted as snarky women in "Over Her Dead Body" (2008), "What Happens in Vegas" (2008), "It's Complicated" (2009) and "No Strings Attached" (2011). As she began to branch out into writing and directing as well, Bell achieved minor stardom for her hilarious turn as Dr. Cat Black, who narrated and anchored the cult favorite "Childrens Hospital" (Adult Swim, 2008- ), which pushed bizarre black comedy to its limits and beyond. Distinguished by her smart, funny screen presence and penchant for unusual projects, Lake Bell exhibited a unique energy and likability that set her apart from her more fame-obsessed, less self-aware colleagues.

Born March 24, 1979 in New York City, Lake Caroline Siegel Bell grew up with something of a gypsy existence, attending schools in New York, Connecticut and Florida before graduating from Rose Bruford College in London, England, where she gained valuable theatrical experience. She began her screen career with a supporting role in the drama "Speakeasy" (2002), which was the runner-up project on the reality competition "Project Greenlight" (HBO, 2001-03; Bravo, 2005), and a recurring role on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009). Bell landed a larger role opposite Jeff Goldblum in the drama "War Stories" (NBC, 2003) as a photojournalist documenting a war in Uzbekistan, appeared in the indie "I Love Your Work" (2003), and landed a series regular role on the charmer "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003). Playing the bartending best friend to Alicia Silverstone's lawyer-turned-lonelyhearts-healer, Bell revealed a sparky personality and intelligence that helped her stand out among the talented ensemble.

Bell made such a strong impression in a recurring role as the alluring, manipulative lawyer Sally Heep, who struck illicit romantic sparks with Alan Shore (James Spader) on "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), that she was transplanted to the Spader spin-off "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08) for a season as a regular. Bell's talents and charisma had not gone unnoticed by casting directors, and she jumped ship for the lead role on her own series, the underwater science fiction drama "Surface" (NBC, 2005-06), where she played a marine biologist in search of mysterious bioengineered sea creatures. The actress charmed as a psychic attuned to a high-strung ghost (Eva Longoria) in the life-after-death comedy "Over Her Dead Body" (2008), but earned more box office success as Cameron Diaz's best friend in the romantic comedy "What Happens in Vegas" (2008). Her biggest claim to blockbuster success, however, came as the much younger wife of Alec Baldwin, who becomes suspicious of his increasingly romantic relationship with his ex-wife Meryl Streep in Nancy Meyers's smash "It's Complicated" (2009). Along with her co-stars, she shared a Best Acting by an Ensemble award from the National Board of Review for the film.

After voicing a witch in "Shrek Forever After" (2010), she landed supporting roles in the sex-themed comedies "No Strings Attached" (2011) and "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" (2011), as well as guested in an especially memorable episode of "New Girl" (Fox, 2011- ) where a naked Zooey Deschanel interrupted Bell's attempts to romance Nick (Jake Johnson). She landed another series regular role on the youthful ambition dramedy "How to Make it in America" (HBO, 2010-11), but achieved cult stardom as the angsty narrator of the tongue-in-cheek, web-to-TV phenomenon "Childrens Hospital" (Adult Swim, 2008- ). As the odd Dr. Cat Black on the charmingly odd yet hilarious series that parodied such medical projects as "Scrubs" (NBC, 2001-08; ABC, 2009-2010), "Patch Adams" (1998) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ) with absurdist black comedy, Bell proved her comic chops and intelligence by directing an episode. She also branched out into writing and directing further with the short "Worst Enemy" (2010) and the comedy "In a World " (2013) which at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

By Jonathan Riggs