By Vanessa McCray
TRAVERSE CITY — Kristen Bell made a comedy full of car chases and unexpected tender moments, and got to shoot it with all her friends.
Michigan natives Bell and real-life love interest Dax Shepard co-star in the yet-to-be-released movie "Hit and Run," which screened for a Traverse City Film Festival audience Thursday night. Bell flew in to Traverse City to talk to the crowd at Lars Hockstad Auditorium.
"It's a bunch of genres in a blender," Bell said, of "Hit and Run."
The movie packs in some gross-out humor, fights and thrilling car chase scenes, and Bell told the audience they did "100 percent of the stunt driving."
Shepard wrote and co-directed the film. He stars as a former getaway driver under the witness protection program — a guy who's in love with Bell's college professor character but soon is on the run from his former bank-robbing buddies. Off-screen friends Kristin Chenoweth and Bradley Cooper are among their pals who appear in the movie.
Bell, of Huntington Woods, and Shepard, of Milford, got to know each other at a Red Wings vs. Kings hockey game in California.
"We just gravitated towards each other," Bell said, adding there's a "similarity" amongst Michiganders.
She recalled growing up downstate and spending vacations up north collecting Petoskey stones.
Bell fell in love with musical theater and attended New York University before booking a big acting job and dropping out of school. She's since starred in the teen detective TV show "Veronica Mars" and movies including "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "You Again."
Working so closely with Shepard wasn't a problem while making "Hit and Run," she said. Bell trusted him and respected his opinion as the writer.
"It could have been terrible, but it wasn't," she said. "My ego didn't enter into it."