Idina Menzel Reveals the First Song She Sang with Kristen Bell Before ‘Frozen’
Idina Menzel was a Broadway sensation long before she played Elsa in Frozen. It was her rendition of the film’s most famous song Let It Go that made it a classic though. Fans are just waiting to hear what Menzel gets to sing in Frozen 2, or maybe they’ve already heard early releases of Into the Unknown. Before the original Frozen, Menzel had a test with her animated sister Kristen Bell, who plays Anna in the films.
They sang a song together before any of the Frozen songs were written. Menzel, Bell, songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez and co-director Jennifer Lee were at a Frozen 2 press conference on Saturday, November 8 sharing the story. Frozen 2 is in theaters November 22.
Idina Menzel sang this duet but it was Kristen Bell’s idea
The song Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell chose to present to Disney comes from another famous movie about female friendship, the classic theme song to Beaches.
“It was Kristen’s idea to do a duet of Wind Beneath My Wings because the music [for Frozen] wasn’t written yet,” Menzel said. “In a boardroom, like a tight little boardroom sitting at a desk just looking at each other going [singing to Wind Beneath My Wings], ‘This is the weirdest thing we’ve ever done.’
Kristen Bell was intimidated to sing with Idina Menzel
Kristen Bell was already a fan of Idina Menzel’s from Rent and Wicked. When Disney asked them to prepare a song presentation, it made Bell nervous.
“It was cool and terrifying to be told by Disney, ‘So, maybe go to Idina’s house before this table read. Prepare a song just so we can hear what you guys sound like together,’” Bell said. “I was like okay. Then drove to her house, stood by a piano, was terrified. My palms were sweating and it was almost immediate this genuine sisterly bond.”
Bell describes how Menzel put her at ease when they sang Wind Beneath My Wings.
“I remember, she just put her hands on my shoulder,” Bell said. “She’s like, ‘You sound so beautiful. This is going to be great.’ I just melted.”
Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell are the reason ‘Frozen’ came out in 2013
Frozen was on track for a 2014 release. Jennifer Lee said it was their duet that lit a fire to rush Frozen.
“I was there,” Lee said. “There was a loose script. The whole thing was greenlit and moved up a year based on the two of them singing together.”
Anderson-Lopez pointed out that when she and Bobby Lopez finally wrote the songs for Frozen, they didn’t end up writing many duets.
“The irony of the fact that it was greenlit based on these two women singing together and they only actually sing together in the films for about two minutes when they’re yelling at each other,” Anderson-Lopez said.
The duet inspired ‘Let It Go’
When Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell read that first script for Frozen, Elsa was more of a villain. She thinks presenting the duet with Bell helped shape Elsa into the heroine she became.
“As a testament to Bobby and Kristen, Elsa was written more as kind of your quintessential Disney nemesis,” Menzel said. “It was these guys that wrote this complicated, beautiful, passionate song called Let It Go that I think informed you that there was a complicated young woman here. We didn’t have to stereotype her and paint her into a corner.”
Anderson-Lopez credited Lee and co-director Chris Buck with encouraging them to re-conceive Elsa.
“We were talking so deeply in a way I never really talked about songs and characters before,” Anderson-Lopez said. “It was the story of the emotion between these two sisters that Jennifer specifically had been talking about her own sisters. Everyone was talking about their own sisters and that’s what really made us think, ‘You know what? I think Elsa’s not a villain. I think we need to go deeper than that.’”