ON THE CASE: Bell with Nia Long and Don Cheadle on House of Lies
Michael Desmond/Showtime

It’s not feasible for Bell to play a teenager anymore — she and her husband, actor Dax Shepard of NBC’s ­Parenthood, recently had a daughter — so Thomas dreamed up a movie that finds the adult Veronica returning to her hometown to solve a murder. Thomas wondered whether he could rally the growing ranks of Marshmallows to fund the project. The writer and director struck a revolutionary deal with Warner Bros: If he could raise the money to make the film, it would cover the costs of marketing and distribution. On March 13, 2013, the Veronica Mars team launched its campaign through Kickstarter.com, a platform for crowd-funded endeavors. The result? A media frenzy when the Veronica Mars movie reached its fundraising goal within 24 hours.

The Veronica Mars movie not only reunites the original cast of the television series but also includes cameo appearances by a J-crew of actors: Justin Long, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jerry O’Connell and, according to rumors, James Franco.

“We were at almost $100,000 by the time I switched on the computer. I thought, ‘I must be dreaming,’ ” Bell recalls. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I’d love to see that movie.’ It’s quite another to take a $20 bill out of your pocket and put it on the table.”

The junkyard set of House of Lies is Bell’s first day back at work. Throughout the day, she embraces production staffers, gives crew members high-fives and runs over to the caterer to say hello. The last time Bell was on the set, she was nine months pregnant, so everyone clamors to see photos of Bell’s daughter, Lincoln.

“We stay in touch throughout the year when we’re not together,” Bell says. “When we get to come back to work, we are permanently in our sophomore year, just excited to see each other.”

Bell clearly isn’t one of those fabled actors who demand that people on set avoid eye contact with her. Indeed, Thomas observes that “crews love her because she treats everyone like their time is as important as hers.”