Kristen Bell
Brian Bowen Smith/August
Soon after, Bell landed a brief role in Deadwood (her parents still haven’t watched it because they can’t bear to watch their daughter die on-screen). Then the life-changing Veronica Mars. Bell quickly graduated to leading roles in big-screen romantic comedies, beginning with the Hawaii-set Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

“I kept joking that I was going to fire my agent and just hire a travel agent because I had just booked Sarah Marshall and then, after that, When in Rome, and then Couples Retreat, which was in Bora Bora.”

Yet even though Bell’s face has adorned many movie posters, her ego hasn’t swelled.

“I didn’t know that I would become a public figure,” Bell says. “I was more than happy doing theater in New York or doing guest-star roles. I didn’t need to be on the cover of a magazine. I didn’t believe anything else would happen other than that I would be a working actor.”

During a lull in filming House of Lies, Bell beelines ­toward a pet wrangler’s van to visit two German Shepherds that appear in the dream sequence. They’ve been coated with black grime so that they resemble wild dogs, but that doesn’t deter Bell from bending down and running her hands through their fur. The grin on her face could outdazzle any in a toothpaste ad.

Bell’s love of animals, including the great white sharks she’s dived with, is a running theme on her Twitter account. She frequently posts photos of her two dogs and promotes pet adoption.