Kristen Bell's breakout role as feisty, teen detective-in-training "Veronica Mars" (UPN, 2004- 07) might have been surprised to know that the young actress' roots were in musical theater. She had already appeared on Broadway twice when she was cast in the lead of the critically acclaimed TV series.
While Bell's fledgling film career included brief dips into horror and little-seen indie comedy, a leading role in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008) launched her romantic comedy career and bumped up her status to big league Hollywood films, where her self-possessed demeanor, quick wit and dark edge made her a film and TV star simultaneously.
She had secured an agent and was appearing in print advertising for local retailers; eventually working her way up to local television commercials. Theater continued to be a passion, and while attending the Shrine Catholic High School in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.
Bell was also cast as the kidnapped daughter of the President in David Mamet's largely unseen thriller "Spartan" (2004), and had a recurring role as a conniving grifter who meets an unpleasant end in HBO's gritty, wild West drama, "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06). But 2004 was best remembered as Bell's breakout year - thanks to a quirky family drama (of sorts) called "Veronica Mars."