Kristen Bell: Saved By the Bell

The Burlesque beauty and Gossip Girl narrator opens up for the first time about how marriage inequality has stalled her plans to wed fiancé Dax Shepard.

BY Brandon Voss

February 17 2012 5:00 AM ET

Mark Consuelos, Kristen Bell, Chelsea Clinton, and Andy Cohen at Friendfactor launch party x390 9GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMDo you feel a responsibility to use your celebrity for political statements?
No, because I know .0001% about politics, but I do feel a social and ethical responsibility to combat prejudices. I have a responsibility to my own values.

What are your thoughts on the Hollywood closet?
It’s a sensitive issue. If you feel more comfortable living a private lifestyle, then that’s your right. I know it can be terrifying, so I don’t fault anyone who isn’t ready to come out. But if you’re a person in the spotlight, I do think it’s of paramount importance that you realize how much good you could do for people who look up to you. Look at my dear friend Zachary Quinto, who I’ve known for more than 12 years: Zach came out when he was ready, he did it for his own very specific reasons, and I’m wildly proud of him. If I struggled with an issue like this, I hope that I would be able to set that kind of example, because I’d want someone to set that example for me.

When you’re close friends with a closeted actor, is it stressful to keep that secret guarded in the public eye?
Well, I wouldn’t guard them any differently than I’d guard a straight friend and their personal life. Thankfully, I was never asked a question about Zach’s sexuality, but if a journalist ever asked me about anyone’s sexuality, gay or straight, I’d probably slap them in the face and say, “Check yourself.”

Did you ever encourage Zachary to come out publicly?
He didn’t come to me for counsel about that, but Zachary needs no encouragement from anyone. He has known exactly who he is since the day I met him.

Does an openly gay actor no longer jeopardize his status as a romantic lead?
Well, Zach has always been sexy to me, even though I knew he was never interested in me. It doesn’t make him any less sexy, onscreen or off.

In 2010 you starred as hard-drinking diva Nikki opposite Cher and Christina Aguilera in Steven Antin’s Burlesque, a film that could’ve only been made by a gay man.
A boatload of gay men, really. Most of the men working on that show were gay, and that’s where most of the great ideas came from. It was pretty special. I just loved that whole atmosphere, with the showgirls, the big hips, and lots of makeup. It was a ton of fun.

I’ve attended a cocktail party screening of the Burlesque DVD at an apartment full of gay men. Have you had any similar experiences?
No, but only because I can’t really sit through my own work. I find myself nauseating to watch.

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