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Why Zoey From Home Again Looks And Sounds So Familiar

The 2017 rom-com "Home Again," starring Reese Witherspoon as Alice Kinney, a newly-separated mom of two girls and an aspiring interior designer, was a bit of a dud when it was released in theaters in 2017 by Open Road Pictures. Though it earned $37 million (via The Numbers), justifying a $15 million production budget, it didn't fare particularly well with critics and has a 32% Tomatometer Score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Critical Movie Critics called it "woefully rudimentary" and a "mawkish, contrived" comedy. Nevertheless, it's seeing an uptick in popularity now that it's been released on Netflix; it's No. 9 on the streamer's Top Movies list for today. Considered a cute, light, and comfortable watch by those who liked it a bit better (like the folks at Decider), it's a perfect summertime sweetener.

As you're watching, you'll meet some of the interesting characters that come to be part of Alice's life, including her first client, Zoey, played by Lake Bell. Zoey isn't exactly the model boss. She has Alice babysitting at the last moment and otherwise forcing her into a role as the hired help, then hires back her old decorator without telling Alice and doesn't even seem to take her ideas seriously.

If you're thinking the actress who plays Zoey looks familiar, you're probably right. She's acted in dozens of projects since graduating from London's Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in 2002, starting with a guest spot on "ER." Her first regular TV project was "Miss Match," with Alicia Silverstone and Charisma Carpenter, but she's also done shows like "Surface," "Boston Legal," and "Bless This Mess." She's been in some high-profile projects since then — but you wouldn't necessarily see her in all of them, as she's an in-demand voiceover actress as well. 

She starred in several Wet, Hot American Summer projects

The "Wet, Hot American Summer" phenomenon happened in 2001 just before Lake Bell went into acting, but she participated in two of its later iterations: the "Wet, Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp" TV series from Netflix in 2015 and "Wet, Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later," a miniseries that aired in 2017. She played Donna, Coop's (Michael Showalter) love interest. Bell, who says she was a fan of the original film, had recently become a mom when she was filming the eight-episode Netflix series while playing a 16-year-old girl. 

"My character is a super awkward, insecure sixteen-year-old Jewish girl who just got back from Israel," Bell told Vogue about the role in the sex comedy spoof. "She's feeling pretty important about all the decisions she's making in her life, which includes wearing really bad overalls and trying to use Israeli terms for mundane things." For the record, the actress loves overalls — at least, that's what she told Esquire.

Her directorial debut took place with "In A World..."

She also rocked overalls in "In A World..." from 2013, which was her writing and directorial debut. She played Carol Solomon, the daughter of Sam Solomon, also known as the "king of voiceovers." In the movie, she competes with her dad for a job bringing back the "In a world..." line made famous by Don LaFontaine. The film did well at Sundance, marking Bell as one to watch. ""In a world...where everyone loves a good laugh, Lake's film represents the introduction of a major new comedic voice — a 21st century Carole Lombard," said co-president Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, which purchased the film's domestic distribution rights (via Entertainment Weekly). Bell won the Best First Screenplay at the Spirit Awards in 2014 (via Deadline).

The movie allowed Bell to show off her voiceover talents and pegged her as a bonafide triple threat: actor, director, writer. "At the end of the day, I think it's definitely a validation in the direction of doing something that I, personally, love to do. It gives me great satisfaction and joy in a creative space," Bell told Under the Radar. "I don't want to overly think about it, other than looking for projects — or writing projects — that make me feel creatively satiated." 

She played Chloe the cat in The Secret Life of Pets and its sequel

In "The Secret Life of Pets," you may recall that one of Max's friends in the Manhattan apartment building where he lives is a fat, apathetic gray tabby cat named Chloe. That's Bell! In an interview for the sequel with Collider, she expressed her love of voiceover. 

"I love the medium because I think it's ultimately the most freeing, for an actor," she said. "You're not judged or limited by your physical appearance. You can be anything. You can be anyone. You could be an inanimate object, or an animal. I feel like that part of it makes it the ultimate acting experience. You get to only use your vocal tool to create comedy and emotion." She praised the movies for being "smart and kind-spirited" and noted that the characters, even after a second movie, have a lot of potential.

She also pointed out that having two little kids by this time made being in the franchise "very cool," especially as she got to have toys, figures, and stuffed animals made of her character. However, she admitted to being a dog person at heart. 

She's a player in both the DC and Marvel universes

Lake Bell has a hand in the DC and Marvel universes, too. In the "Harley Quinn" animated series from 2019-2020, which is currently available on HBO Max, she voices Poison Ivy in the adult series about a single Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco). In the show, Poison Ivy is part of Harley's villain group and a love interest for the title character. The bloody, irreverent show was called "one of the best surprises of the year" by Hollywood Reporter, who also described Bell's character as "a grown-up Daria."

In a Reddit AMA with co-showrunner Justin Halpern from 2020 in which he was asked about Poison Ivy's accent, he posted, "To be honest, I'd have to ask Lake. She completely created the sound for Ivy. She's a badass. One of the best vocal performers around. Also a crazy good writer, too. She improvised so many good lines." 

Talking about the frequent cursing on the show, Halpern also made sure to give credit where it's due. "And we script a lot of F bombs but we also allow the cast to improvise. Lake Bell is a preternatural curser," he said. She's brilliant at it. All those sequences where she goes on a rant, she's just ad-libbing. 'P**s cakes of a d**k' is pure Lake Bell."

Bell also voiced Kingpin's wife, Vanessa Fisk, in a flashback scene in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." When she and her son Richard come upon husband Wilson fighting Spider-Man, she feels with her boy and they die in a car accident, motivating him to create a particle accelerator that will allow him to find his family in parallel universes.