Bell (right) with In a World... co-star Demetri Martin
Bonnie Osborne/Roadside Attractions

Lake Bell’s new film, In a World…, speaks volumes about her many talents.


Lake Bell has been collecting accents since she was a kid, when she’d travel from Florida to New York every other weekend per her parents’ custody arrangement. “I’d take a tape recorder around and became truly obsessed with speech and voice,” explains the 34-year-old actress. “It always seemed cool to me that you could be anyone behind the cloak of a voice.”

So it’s only natural that Bell’s feature-film directorial debut, which she also wrote and stars in, should venture into the voice-over realm. In a World…, out this month, is a multilayered dramedy about a female vocal coach making her way in the male-­dominated voice-over industry. What makes her track especially tricky is that she must compete with her father, a renowned voice-over artist.

Bell spent four years on the project, gaining perspective from Melissa Disney, the first woman to do the voice-over for a movie trailer, and incorporating personal insight from her own experiences doing voice work for the video game Prototype and the film Shrek Forever After. In a World… premiered and was picked up for distribution during the Sundance Film Festival, where Bell won the festival’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. The number of positive reviews the film has received has overwhelmed its maker.

“They’re so nice that I feel like my mom wrote them,” Bell says. “I’m sort of speechless. I didn’t think about people beyond my friends and family enjoying the movie so much.”

Since graduating in 2001 from the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama (now called the Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance) in London, Bell has built a solid, eclectic body of work, bouncing easily between comedy and ­drama, television and film. She’s appeared on such series as Boston Legal, Miss Match and How to Make It In America and co-starred in movies like What Happens in Vegas and It’s Complicated. Recently married to artist Scott Campbell, Bell remains deeply in career mode, directing and acting in the satirical Emmy-winning Web series Childrens Hospital, wrapping filming of the Disney baseball flick Million Dollar Arm and penning her second feature.

While Bell admits to consciously lowering her pitch to sound more sophisticated over the years, it’s clear that her voice in entertainment will only grow louder.