Lake Bell made her feature film directorial and writing debut with In a World… in which she also played the leading role, Carol. This film is the story of a voice actress struggling in the male-dominated industry. In a World… is funny but also has some emotional moments, plus a great message. This is one of my favorite films in the last 5 years!!!
Lake proved she has great voice ability in this film. She also showed that during our interview when she mimicked my Japanese announcer talk in Japanese!
The voice-over industry is really harsh. Is this film based on her story?
“The idea first came just organically from a conversation about movie trailers. I’m a trailer junky and I noticed that there were no women who voiced trailers. I always used to play around with the three words, ‘in a world,’ and I always pretend to kind of voice over my family’s life. I’d be like, ‘You are walking into the kitchen and you care…’ or whatever it is. I just thought voice over was really funny and a fun thing to play around with and I loved the voice. So I was always able to manipulate it and play around with that tool and very aware of it. It’s a subject that interests me. I tried to get into the voice-over industry at one point and just had no luck because it was a real clique and it’s a very tight-knit hierarchy of who’s allowed to do what. So I thought that in itself, that it was so cutthroat, was surprising and somewhat comedic.”
The highlight of In a World… is Geena Davis, who founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She plays a female president who gives a memorable speech in this film which is perfect casting even though Lake did not know about Ms. Davis’ lifework before.
“I was shocked that she said yes. I’m a huge fan of hers, and I didn’t know that she had the Geena Davis Institute when I asked her to do the movie, and then I sat down to lunch with her and she spoke of it. It’s basically how young females are depicted in media, no joke. So her giving that speech…”
While talking about the speech, it is clearly evident that Lake is very proud of her creation.
“That’s my favorite speech that I’ve ever written. I don’t want to preach to people, but that is my one modicum of a soapbox moment, where I just wanted to illuminate that women and success are complicated. Of course everyone speaks of the boys’ club, going like, ‘Yeah, come on up! Here’s a cigar, let’s all be successful together.’ But I think people stereotype men being that way. And women are complicated in that way. I think because they have not had success for as long, that when they see another woman be successful, that they struggle with supporting that person but then also being like, ‘Hey, I did it myself. You do it on your own too, and then we can talk.’ That kind of thing. I think Geena Davis giving that speech is talking about a lot of s***, one of which is ‘I put you in this role not because you’re the best for it, but because I was trying to make a point. And I’m using you, and in fact, you weren’t the best for the role. I just want to remind you that you’re just a pawn in something that I’m trying to do, but good job, kid.’
“And I think for the purposes of the movie it becomes Carol’s moment of realizing, having this epiphany of ‘maybe I’m trying to attack a dream that is not mine. It’s my dad’s dream. In vain, I’m trying to acquire this goal of being a voice-over star. What the hell do I care? I prefer to help my sister.’ I’m a helper. I want to help these young women of this generation massage their way out of this pandemic that is rampant, the sexy baby (voice), and that is her passion. And then also to illuminate the power of voice over and that here are these disembodied voices telling us how to think, our opinion of products and what to buy, what bank to trust, what we need to see. It’s a huge, strange responsibility that these voices hold.”