Hollywood relationships often seemingly fizzle out before they’ve even really taken off. But this certainly isn’t the case for Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, who have long been one of the acting world’s most enduring power couples. And just to illustrate their lasting bond, the former paid a moving tribute to her husband after they faced down a pretty tough year in 2020.
Many of you will be familiar with Bell’s work on the big screen. You may recognize her from successful movies such as Veronica Mars and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Or you might be familiar with her voice from the insanely popular Frozen franchise. Bell’s role as Anna – and the many popular songs she sang as the character – has endeared her to countless kids and adults alike.
Bell wed Dax Shepard in 2013 – the same year that the first Frozen movie was released. The latter is also a Hollywood actor and the star of films including Without a Paddle, CHiPs and Idiocracy. The pair had reportedly met several years earlier at a dinner party, although Bell admitted to Today in 2019 that there had been “no sparks whatsoever.”
Despite those inauspicious beginnings, the pair eventually got hitched and have two children together. And in 2020 Bell paid an emotional tribute to her actor and director husband. Why? Well, it turns out that the couple had experienced a tumultuous year.
But back to that dinner party, which was apparently hosted by a mutual friend. By the sounds of it, it’s surprising that Bell and Shepard ever became a couple at all! The former told Today, “The one thing I remember is that he talked so much.” The actress also admitted that she’d had no idea who Shepard was.
Yet things were a little more promising the next time the pair met at a Detroit Red Wings hockey game. The two actors began to flirt, although Shepard later admitted that he was a little bit perturbed by Bell’s characteristic positivity. As he recalled, Bell and her girlfriends were in a joyful mood.
“When I met [Bell] and her friends, I was suspicious of their unbridled happiness,” Shepard recalled in a 2015 interview with Good Housekeeping magazine. He went on, “I thought, ‘Something stinks here; they’re in a cult.’ But slowly I began to see her positive way of looking at the world. She gives people the benefit of the doubt.”
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the couple between that first meeting and their eventual marriage. And it was Shepard who thought that he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship, as Bell recalled to PopSugar. She remembered in 2017, “He sat me down and said, ‘I can’t have this right now. I think you’re wonderful, but I am still dating other people.’”
Understandably, Bell didn’t take the news of the breakup well. The actress continued, “And then I, like, liquefied and fell to the ground, but I felt incredibly respected that he had the balls to tell me we weren’t in the same place.” Nevertheless, Bell took Shepard back when the actor saw the error of his ways a few days later.
In 2009 the two actors then appeared in a movie together for the first time. When in Rome was a romantic comedy with Bell in the lead female role alongside Josh Duhamel. As the title suggests, the movie was filmed in location in Italy. And Shepard would go on to propose shortly after shooting had finished.
Shepard later recalled that he’d had a little nudge in the right direction when it came to proposing. That came from none other than actor Jason Bateman, who starred alongside Shepard in Couples Retreat. The latter later told People, “[Bateman] was first to go, ‘Stop f***ing around and marry [Bell].’”
Bell recalled to the publication how Shepard would often rail against marriage. The actress said, “He has a great argument that the state having a piece of paper doesn’t mean he’s going to be nice to me and by my side for the rest of my life. [Rather], that is going to be evidenced by how we treat each other and the commitment that we make.”
Apparently, Bell had even convinced herself that she was fine about not getting hitched. She said in the same interview, “I had surrendered, like, ‘Okay, well, I’m never going to get any sort of traditional marriage out of this, and that’s okay because I trust him.’ I really, really trusted him and believed that we were going to go the long haul.”
Fortunately, Shepard seemingly changed his mind and the pair wed in a simple ceremony in 2013. The latter told CBS News Sunday Morning three years later, “We got married in a tiny room in the Beverly Hills courthouse, and it was still one of the best days of my life.”
Bell and Shepard settled down to wedded bliss, but there was an elephant in the room. The latter had previously struggled with addiction, and he opened up about this in a 2016 Twitter post. Shepard wrote, “Twelve years ago today I came out of my last toxic, life-threatening stupor. I now have a wife and babies and some self-esteem.”
Shepard was clean when he met Bell, though his past still cast a shadow over the relationship. He told Playboy magazine in 2012, “All the things I’d done were terrifying to her, and she had a hard time believing I would ever be able to stay married and monogamous and a father and all those things. For the first year and a half we were together that was what we battled over almost weekly.”
Though the pair did marry, of course. And that same year – 2013 – Bell gave birth to the couple’s first child: Lincoln. Around that time, Shepard also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to recall the couple’s October wedding. He told the host that he’d had a small bell tattooed on his ring finger instead of the traditional item of jewelry.
That particular year was also a momentous one for the couple privately. Why? Well, 2013 was when Bell lent her voice to the role of Anna in Frozen. That first movie of the franchise went gone on to become one of Disney’s biggest-ever animated features – claiming the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was a worldwide smash and it made Bell a household name.
And the patter of tiny feet would await the couple again once more just over a year later. Yes, the pair welcomed another little girl called Delta. But children didn’t stop the couple from working, and over the course of the next few years Bell and Shepard would often collaborate professionally.
You might be surprised to learn that Shepard has branched out into directing, too. In 2017 he began work on the movie CHiPs – based on the eponymous 1970s television series. Shepard was also set to star in the movie, yet at the same time he turned down Bell for the part of his horrible ex-wife. He told USA Today that his beau was just too “damn likable” for the role.
But how did Bell react at being turned down for the part in CHiPs by her own husband? Well, she recalled to the newspaper, “I’m glad he likes me. But I threw down a not-so-thinly veiled threat, ‘I can be very unlikable. Welcome to the next week of your life.’” Unsurprisingly, her husband relented.
In 2018 Shepard made a guest appearance on Bell’s hit television show The Good Place. That same year, she sat in as Shepard’s first guest on his new podcast series Armchair Expert. As well as dovetailing beautifully in their personal lives, the pair were complementing each other professionally, too.
Then came 2020. In October that year Bell posted on social media to celebrate another milestone for the couple. She wrote on Instagram, “Well, it’s that time of year again. The anniversary of the day each year when we say to each other, ‘Wasn’t our anniversary last week at some point?”
You might be surprised to learn that Bell and Shepard seemingly forget about their anniversary quite often! Two years prior the former admitted that they often can’t recall which day it was. Bell posted on Instagram, “We were reminded by family and friends that at some point last week, it was our five-year wedding anniversary. In truth, neither of us remember which day… I will never remember the date of our anniversary [Shepard], and I know you won’t either. And that’s just one more thing I love about us.”
But in 2020 Bell added one more poignant message to her husband. She wrote on Instagram, “I love you, [Shepard], and I always will.” It was simple, yet so profound. But what exactly had been going on behind the scenes in order for these words to take on ever more gravitas?
Well, the year 2020 was a difficult one for the couple. That October Bell appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. But the subject matter on most people’s minds wasn’t a new Bell movie or television series. No, it was her husband’s sobriety.
Sadly, Shepard had apparently relapsed after 16 years of being sober – something he publicly admitted. The actor is a keen ATV rider, but it is a hobby that eventually led to a bad habit. Shepard admitted on an episode of his popular podcast series, “After I ride sometimes on the track, I feel I’m entitled to take two Vicodin at the end of the day because I am in pain.”
Unfortunately, it was the start of a slippery slope for the actor and director. He continued, “For the last eight weeks… [I’ve been on Vicodin] all day. I’m allowed to be on them at some dosage because I have a prescription, and then I’m also augmenting that.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. Shepard added, “And then all the prescriptions [ran] out, and I’m now just taking 30 mil [OxyContins] that I’ve bought whenever I decide I can do [it].” The actor was also quite clear that his actions were going to have repercussions for those he held dearest. He broached this subject on his podcast, too.
“I’m lying to other people, and I know I have to quit,” Shepard said on Armchair Expert. “But my tolerance is going up so quickly that I’m now in a situation where I’m taking, you know, eight 30s a day.” Evidently, it was an incredibly candid admission by the star.
Shepard could also clearly see the future consequences of traveling down this particular path. He admitted on the podcast, “I know that’s an amount [eight 30s a day] that’s going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal. And I start getting really scared, and I’m starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret.”
Shepard could see the impact his relapse was going to have on his wife. As well as the private admission, he knew that “coming clean publicly” would also have an effect. The star concluded, “[Bell] doesn’t deserve for the next six months for every f***ing interview she does to be, ‘Oh, [Shepard] relapsed.’ I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed I’ve put other people in this situation.”
And so this was the background to Bell’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Clearly, her husband’s issues were going to be the subject on everyone’s lips. The host knew she had to raise the issue, but Bell’s response was everything that a husband could ever hope from a loyal and loving wife.
Bell did not shy away from the subject of her husband when appearing remotely with Ellen. She told the host, “[Shepard] is actually doing really great. Everybody is up against their own demons. Sometimes it’s anxiety and depression, sometimes it’s substance abuse.”
Bell then went on to show unequivocal support for her husband. She explained to Ellen, “The thing that I love most about [Shepard] is that he was able to tell me and tell us and say, ‘We need a different plan.’ We have a plan – if he has to take medication for any reason, I have to administer it. But he was like, ‘We need a stronger plan.’”
Bell openly revealed what her husband had told her about his relapse. Shepard apparently explained, “‘I was faltering. I have to do some sort of emotional work to figure out why I wanted to use again.’ He’s addicted to evolving. [Shepard] was like, ‘I don’t want to risk this family and I did, so let’s put new things in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’ We’re going back to therapy. I love that he’s addicted to growth.”
Most importantly, Bell uttered the words that legions of fans were hoping to hear. She said, “I will continue to stand by him because he’s very, very worth it.” It was an incredibly powerful and heartfelt show of support. Bell also admitted that the pair are committed to working on elements of their relationship to strengthen it.
Shepard’s relapse occurred shortly after the actor had celebrated another milestone in his struggles with addiction. On September 16 Bell made a post on Instagram to reveal all. She wrote, “Today is my husband’s 16th sobriety birthday. My daughter woke him up with this sign, and a sketch of the one and only Ronald Weasley – absolutely random, and also perfect. Happy birthday Daxy.”
In that same Instagram post, Bell addressed how thankful she was for her husband’s commitment. The actress added, “Thank you for dedicating your life to the hard and wonderful work of sobriety, so that we could share it with you.” She signed the post with a kiss and a hug from her and their two daughters. But despite Shepard’s subsequent relapse, nothing else has changed.
Times have been hard in 2020 for this celebrity couple. But Bell and Shepard seem to have survived this rocky patch. And after seven years of marriage, many will hope that this cutest of Hollywood couples will be able to celebrate many more future milestones together.