When Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell unveiled their Kickstarter campaign last year, it wasn’t just the fans who were on the edge of the seat to see if a movie would be made. Some castmembers from the prematurely canceled TV series were on the edge of their seats too — to see if their characters would make the cut.
“I just called to make sure I didn’t have to be the $10,000 donor to be in the film,” Chris Lowell said of his surprise over the polarizing Piz ending up in the movie during Thursday night’s PaleyFest panel with the cast. Percy Daggs III, meanwhile, had a secret weapon if Wallace didn’t come back: “I had the NAACP on speed dial!” he joked, getting the biggest laugh of the night.
Bell, Thomas, Lowell, Daggs, Jason Dohring (Logan), Ryan Hansen (Dick), Enrico Colantoni (Keith), Francis Capra (Weevil), and Tina Majorino (Mac) all hit the Dolby Theatre stage a day before that Kickstarter-backed film officially hit theaters, so we guess they all got parts after all. Read below for the biggest revelations about the beloved TV show and what almost made it into the movie.
Were LoVe always meant to be? If you thought that season 1 kiss between Veronica and Logan came out of nowhere, that’s because it really did. “The truth is, we never had any intention at all for Logan to end up with Veronica,” Rob Thomas revealed. “He was hired to be the obligatory psychotic jackass. In the writer’s room, sitting around watching dailies, we would all gather around, and it was like, ‘We want to watch that. We want to watch those two onscreen together.’ And that’s how it built. We were watching the same thing you were and going, ‘Wow. More of that, please!’ And fortunately, we had the ability to make that happen.
How Kristen became Veronica. It turns out Kristen Bell was always the No. 1 option — because she was literally the first person who auditioned. “I saw 100 actresses for the role of Veronica; Kristen was the very first actress I saw,” Thomas said. “We spent three weeks, four weeks of casting, and I kept thinking, ‘Was that first girl as brilliant as I thought she was?'” Yes she was, Rob! And she proved herself very quickly, shooting a heart-wrenching scene for the pilot in which Veronica discovers she’s been raped. “I’m watching her from the monitor, and tears start streaming down her face, and I’m just like, ‘Holy sh–! We have a star! She is so unbelievable!'” Thomas said. “There’s this joke of really top-notch actors, like, ‘How many tears do you want and out of which eye?’ Kristen can deliver that.”
What makes Logan and Veronica fall in LoVe? Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell’s chemistry has never been in question, but the way she helped him get to a right answer about their onscreen relationship really shows just how in sync they are. “I think it’s interesting that, despite all his privilege and all that, I think that a lot of people hurt him in his life, and she understood that part of him, when she saw me and what I was going through, and I could see that she had a bad relationship with her mother,” Dohring said of why the couple works. “I just look at her and I just feel it, man. I try to make it this deep, philosophical thing, and she just smiles at me and it’s game over.” Kristen jumped in: “You’re on to something, though. There’s something, an intangible, that we’re lucky enough to have when we work together. But it’s also like wounded birds recognize other wounded birds.” “It could have been said like that,” Dohring joked.
No one is more surprised than Chris Lowell that Piz is in the movie. “Honestly, I got this email from Rob, I knew about the Kickstarter video, and I legitimately had come to a place where I was ready to accept that I would not be in the film. I was getting everyone in the cast’s address so I knew where to send the anthrax,” Lowell joked. “But then Rob sent me this email saying, ‘Hey, by the way, I think we’re gonna make this film. There’s actually a role for Piz.’ I’m thinking, ‘He is killed. He’s the victim.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s actually a substantial part.’ Honestly, to have the opportunity to work with these guys is the greatest thing in the world, so I jumped immediately, like everybody else on this stage.”
Rob Thomas almost made the movie about Veronica as an FBI agent. We know from the film’s trailer that Veronica heads to law school instead, but just like the last-ditch mini-pilot that was shot after season 3, Thomas still thought of his girl as a fed. “The six months before Kickstarter, I was thinking of a plotline that revolved around Veronica as a young FBI agent, but when it became a fan-financed movie, I couldn’t figure out a way that an FBI case could roll in Wallace and Mac [and everyone else]. So I sort of abandoned that FBI idea and tried to find a plot to get back to all the characters we know and love. Because if the fans are going to pay for a movie, I want them to see the characters they love.” Another idea left on the cutting-room floor? A possible post-credits scene involving Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn) and his baby Lilly, named after his late sister (Amanda Seyfried). Speaking of Veronica’s late best friend…
“Did I kill Lilly Kane?” The TV series’ first big mystery, of who killed Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane, was such a mystery that the cast didn’t even know. So before the real killer was revealed, a few actors were sweating that it would be them. “I thought any day, Rob was just gonna come up and sit down and be like, ‘So, for this episode, we’re gonna see Eli snap. And we’re gonna see Eli’s real dark side,'” Francis Capra recalled of his character, Eli “Weevil” Navarro. “Man, I thought it was me many, many times.” Percy Daggs III (Wallace) meanwhile just wanted some answers. “For me, it was hard because you have family asking you who did it, and you really don’t know. So that automatically made me try to figure it out. And I spent a lot of time with Kristen, and the hardest part about that is when you were trying to figure it out, she wouldn’t tell you if she knew who did it, but she would definitely shoot down what you think.”
Veronica Mars is in theaters now.
Watch a clip from the Paley panel below: