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Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard Get Real About Their Marriage, Their Kids & All Those Rumors

Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard Get Real About Their Marriage, Their Kids & All Those Rumors

PARADE MAGAZINE

They may look like a picture-perfect couple, but it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard when they met at a mutual friend’s birthday dinner in 2007.

“Neither of us was bowled over,” says Shepard, 44, revealing that they were both in the midst of breakups. But two weeks later, they bumped into each other at a hockey game, where both Michigan natives were cheering on their beloved Detroit Red Wings against the Los Angeles Kings.

Bell jokes that her interest was piqued when Shepard asked if she had any chewing gum. She said, “Just this,” and removed the piece she was chewing. He took it, ripped it in two and popped half into his mouth. “I was like, ‘Oh, these signals are clear!’” she recalls. Several days later, Shepard tracked down her number, and they’ve been together ever since. Today they’re one of Hollywood’s most endearing—and enduring—power couples: They’re married with two daughters, and both have high-profile careers. Currently, Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop on the hit NBC sitcom The Good Place and Shepard plays Luke Matthews on The Ranch.

If you’re wondering if they have the same chemistry in real life as they do on screen (they’ve co-starred in a number of movies as well as those adorable Samsung commercials), the answer is yes. Their relationship is a walking rom-com, a mix of playful, witty banter and gestures of affection, like Shepard arranging for a baby sloth (her favorite animal) to pay his wife a visit, or Bell convincing the King’s Hawaiian bread factory to gift her man the chance to devour rolls fresh out of their oven (his lifelong dream). The duo would completely agree that the Samsung commercials accurately depict their real life.

“Dax has 100 percent creative control over those,” says Bell. “So we do silly things, like wear matching Christmas pajamas, which we actually do.”

Opposites Attract

That’s not to say they don’t have their differences. In the early days, Shepard was a self-proclaimed bad boy, while Bell was focused on philanthropy and her friends. “I believed the whole world was filled with sheep and he believed the whole world was filled with wolves,” she says.

They admit to bringing out the best in each other. Since meeting his wife, Shepard is “less naïve, 10 times nicer,” and Bell has gotten “better with boundaries.” But she says that they still “agree on almost nothing.”

“When we’re walking down the street and we pass someone, my first thought is, This guy’s gonna try to take my wallet,” says Shepard. “Kristen’s first thought is, That guy might cure cancer.”

They do, however, share some similarities. For starters, they’re extremely frugal. “Even that first dinner we were at, I remember Kristen talking about some deal she had gotten at Target,” says Shepard, who found that “extremely attractive.” And both being from the suburbs of Detroit unifies them. “We were grown from the same seeds and watered with the same rain,” says Bell.

Both acknowledge that their relationship takes work. “This isn’t a special fairytale,” she says. “This is two people who worked really hard and it’s attainable for you if you work really hard in your marriage too,” adds Shepard.

Bell and Shepard got engaged in 2009 but held off on making things official until California legalized same-sex marriage. Once passed, Bell proposed to her fiancé in a tweet and they wed at the Beverly Hills county clerk’s office in 2013. It was simple and understated; the entire ceremony reportedly cost under $150 and everything was exactly the way they wanted.

Bell laughs as she recalls that hours after the ceremony, she was back to work on her TV sitcom House of Lies, filming an intimate scene with her co-star Ryan Hansen, one of their best friends—whose wife, Amy, had been their wedding witness and photographer.

The couple, who recently celebrated five years as husband and wife, often forget their anniversary. Fortunately, like clockwork every year, Bell’s mother texts them a reminder. “We both wake up, check our phones and we go, ‘Happy anniversary,’” says Bell. “We’ve been together 11 and a half years. We’re much prouder of that than marriage,” says Shepard, who reveals that his favorite thing about his wife is her thoughtful nature. “She’s regularly going out of her way to anticipate some need you might have that maybe you didn’t even recognize.”

Bell admires her husband’s “endless patience with people,” joking that she takes an eternity to tell a story but Shepard hangs in ’til the end. She also finds it sexy that he’s so direct and has become the “go-to therapist” for her girlfriends. “They’ll say to me, ‘Is Dax going to be home tonight? I want to run something by him.’”

Shepard humorously equates himself to “Simon Cowell on the first season of American Idol.” “I’ll just tell them, ‘Get real! You’ve done this with eight boyfriends. At what point is it your problem?’”

With hectic schedules, nabbing time with one another can be difficult. But Bell says, if life pulls them in opposite directions, they’ll hunker down and say, “Hey! We’ve got to hang.” Sometimes that simply means finding a new Netflix show to binge; their current obsession is Patriot on Amazon Prime. They also aren’t big on date nights.

“We’ve probably had nine in the last six years, if we’re being honest,” and much prefer intimate group hangs with friends and their children, daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 4. “We play board games and the kids destroy the house and that’s just a fun Sunday,” he says.

‘We’re Boring’

Though they often grace your television screens and are hyped as a power couple, their real life is not so much different than anyone else’s—except for having to deal with millions of people’s perceptions of them. There are always rumors flying around, which Shepard finds hilarious. “We’re boring, so when they print these things—that we’re swingers and stuff—it gives us a little edge that we don’t have,” he jokes.

In addition to Bell’s current prime-time starring role alongside Ted Dansonon TV’s The Good Place, she’s also gearing up for the reboot of Veronica Mars later this year on Hulu. And she’ll reprise her role as the voice of Princess Anna in Disney’s mega-hit animated musical Frozen when the sequel, Frozen 2, arrives in November. Shepard is a writer, director and producer with more than five dozen TV and movie credits on his résumé, including the role of Crosby Braverman in Parenthood and voicing several characters on the Adult Swim animated series Robot Chicken. His movie comedies include Employee of the MonthWithout a Paddle and Idiocracy.

But their celebrity doesn’t make them any more put-together. “We’re behind on laundry, our house is a mess, there’s dog hair that we’re trying to constantly Swiffer,” says Bell, who discloses that things got even wilder when their children entered the picture.

“They leave stuff everywhere! It’s like they booby-trap the house and sometimes they actually do booby-trap the house,” she says, noting that she once found pieces of gum taped to the seat of a chair. “Our oldest builds forts and a good half the week all the couch cushions are off. No one can sit on the couch and the only thing that’s exposed are crumbs!”

Shepard is the disciplinarian and refers to Bell as the “endlessly patient and generous” parent. “They’re whiniest with me because they know they can get away with it,” she says. Her husband, who is completely outnumbered by females, jokes that he sometimes finds himself palling around with dad friends, eager to soak up whatever testosterone he can find. “My sister works with us, Monica [Padman] co-hosts my podcast, my mom lives with us half the year, even our dog is a female!” he says.

Bell does the majority of the housework and is completely OK with that. “I don’t have this secret feminist inside me that wishes he would cook four nights a week. I want him out of my kitchen!” she jokes. Shepard keeps the cars running, gets the Christmas lights up the day after Halloween and is a mean dishwasher. He’s banned from putting them away, however, as Bell teasingly suggests he often complicates her system.

#CoupleGoals

There is no one who raves about Bell more than Shepard. “I can’t watch Kristen sing live without becoming a mess. I start this weird thing, which is about to turn into a cry, but I keep it in the laugh zone so I just laugh neurotically with wet eyes,” says Shepard. Bell—who grew up loving opera and sang in various solo and ensemble competitions in college—welcomes the praise, since her kids are immune to their mom’s Frozen success. “I’m not allowed to sing around my girls. Whenever I sing, even to the radio, they cover my mouth,” she says.

And Bell is a huge fan of Shephard’s Armchair Expert, his weekly podcast which has attracted celebrities including Jay LenoSarah SilvermanConan O’Brien and Ethan Hawke for wide-ranging conversation and topical probing. “When he told me he wanted to start a podcast in the garage, I said ‘Oh, honey, that’s so cute.’ A month later, I was like, “You have a million subscribers?” she recalls. “It’s my Frozen!” quips Shepard.

Besides sharing the screen in films, including When in Rome, the movie remake of CHiPs and the comedy-romance Hit & Run, which Shepard wrote and directed, they’ve embarked on a new joint adventure.

Their latest venture is Hello Bello, a plant-based baby-product line currently available at Walmart. “We wanted people to have access to baby products they felt good about that didn’t kill their pocketbook,” explains Bell, who says she and Shepard had fun collaborating. “He was saying, ‘Let’s put the word ‘butt’ on the packaging for the diapers and ‘booger’ on the wipes,’ which makes total sense. Why are we trying to pretend these are elegant products? They’re not!”

And of course, being married to anyone in the same line of work—like a fellow actor—has its advantages. “It’s a great antidote to your ego,” says Shepard. “If I go, ‘But, honey, I gotta go do X, Y and Z,’ she’ll go, ‘Yeah—I did that last week. You’re not that special!’”

Check the pictures in our gallery:

Photo Sessions & Outtakes > 2019 > Parade Magazine

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Had to ‘Work Really, Really Hard’ to Find Happily Ever After

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Had to ‘Work Really, Really Hard’ to Find Happily Ever After

People

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard sat down exclusively with PEOPLE for its latest cover story and opened up about marriage, parenting and more.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard define #CoupleGoals, but they’re the first to admit their nearly 12 years together have been filled with ups and downs.

We definitely had to work really hard at being a couple because we’re both incredibly, painfully stubborn, and we’re pretty much opposites,Shepard, 44, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story, on stands Friday.

After crossing paths briefly at a dinner party in 2007, the couple — who wed in 2013 and have two daughters, Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 4 — reconnected weeks later at a hockey game where “the sparks were flying,” says The Ranchstar. Adds Bell, 38: “Big time.

Though they had undeniable chemistry, both say their road to marriage was certainly rocky. Not quite ready to settle down at the time, Shepard broke up with Bell months into their relationship.

But just a few days later, the stars — who recently launched an affordable, plant-based baby product line called Hello Bello — reunited after Shepard changed his mind.

“I was like, ‘That’s the best personality I’ve ever seen on a woman. I need to be around it,” recalls Shepard. “I want to be around it when I’m 80, but how?”

The answer was trust and honesty plus “a little couple’s therapy” — and a very meaningful compromise.

Knowing Shepard didn’t believe in marriage, the Bad Moms actress had accepted she would never be his wife.

“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,” says Bell. “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.”

But Shepard knew how much marriage meant to Bell, and “ultimately, I was like, ‘Well, I’m doing it because my partner wants that,” he explains about proposing in 2009. “Forget the tradition or history of marriage as a concept, you knowing I was doing something that I didn’t want to do because I loved you was a big sign for you.”

After their intimate, courthouse nuptials in 2013, the couple — who often buck tradition — did feel a greater sense of security.

Check the pictures in our gallery:

Photo Sessions & Outtakes > 2019 > People Magazine

Magazine Scans > 2019 > People Magazine

“Getting Ready with Kristen Bell for the Golden Globes is a lot of fun” by Coveteur

“Getting Ready with Kristen Bell for the Golden Globes is a lot of fun” by Coveteur

Coveteur

The Hamilton soundtrack is playing in the background. Through the haze of hairspray, we could make out Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard stuffing hotel napkins into their necklines (Bell’s a deep blush Zuhair Murad V she was protecting from her makeup, and Shepard’s a crisp white collar). They role-played a family dinner at Red Lobster. If you couldn’t deduce it at this point, you should know we’re in a ritzy hotel room in Beverly Hills prepping for the 76th Golden Globe Awards with Bell’s glam team, including longtime stylist Nicole Chavez.

It wasn’t long before Shepard took control of the music—not before chirping his Golden Globe-nominated wife’s musical afinity—switching to rap and hip-hop while hairstylist Jenny Cho touched up the actress’s shiny S-waves and makeup artist Simone Siegel added a few final dustings of finishing powder. Bell, who was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Comedy for her leading role in The Good Place, channeled old-Hollywood glamour in a full-length pleated gown and Brian Atwood heels Chavez had custom-dyed to match the dress perfectly. There was a heavy sprinkling of Harry Winston diamonds to finish off the look. Thank goodness Chavez gave us all the details of Bell’s look (and more) below.

Check the pictures in our gallery:

Photo Sessions & Outtakes > 2019 > “Getting Ready with Kristen Bell for the Golden Globes is a lot of fun” by Coveteur

Kristen Bell and Ted Danson Dish on ‘The Good Place’ and Their Real-Life Bad Places

Kristen Bell and Ted Danson Dish on ‘The Good Place’ and Their Real-Life Bad Places

The Wrap – Don’t put Danson behind a bar or take him to an escape room, the way Bell recently did.

This story about Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and “The Good Place” first appeared in the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

Heaven or hell? Devil or angel? And does it even matter?

NBC’s delightful comedy series “The Good Place” started out as a vision of paradise, albeit a rather odd and completely secular paradise; it ended its first season with the show-shattering reveal that our human characters had actually been spending their time in a radical new version of hell designed to get them to torture each other rather than leaving that job to the pros.

And in Season 2, the show from “Parks and Recreation” creator Mike Schur kept upending itself in the most delicious of ways.

This is a show that can make hell kind of charming and give a fun, cuddly twist to the afterlife. Kristen Bell somehow makes us root for a woman whose self-obsession knows no bounds but who’s smarter and maybe even nicer than she lets on. Ted Danson was a scene stealer even in the first season as a human-torturing demon who had to hide his true nature from the other characters and from the audience.

(Granted, words like demon may not be appropriate for an altogether nonreligious and bureaucratic afterworld; he’s middle management at best, and not very good at his job of torturing humans.)

On a break early in the filming of Season 3, Bell and Danson discussed the pleasures and challenges of a show that delights in blowing up its own premise over and over. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

Season 2 must have been a real kick for you, Ted, because you finally got to…
TED DANSON Be who I am. Yeah, it was really fun. And it was easier to find the funny, because funny usually is this kind of triangular thing between you, another character and the audience. But I had no relationship to the audience in Season 1. They never saw me in a private moment, or I would have been twirling my mustache.

Would you have taken the part without the knowledge that eventually you were going to get to show who this guy really is?
DANSON Oh, I would have done it. I signed on before I saw a script. I knew that Kristen was likely going to do it. I then listened to Mike Schur empty his mind for an hour and tell me everything he knew about the show and the twist. And I really signed up for Mike Schur.

KRISTEN BELL He can tell a story with detail that is frightening, like a computer. “Here’s what I want to do in Episode 9, and it’s a callback to Episode 6…” And I’m like, “You haven’t even written the pilot, bro! Slow down!”

DANSON Is this the first job you’ve taken when you haven’t read a script?

BELL Yeah. Wow. Yeah. We were sold on the idea, with the twist, and with his commitment to cliff-hangers and pulling the rug out from under people. I just thought, “What a goal. Let him try, I’d love to be a part of it.”

I feel as if Ted needed to know the twist to play his part, but you didn’t.
DANSON But she needed to know in order to take the part.

BELL Well, yes and no. Mike is an unparalleled collaborator, and I think he had respect enough for me to say, “I would like you to know what you’re signing up for.” So he opened the whole kimono that day.

Was it frustrating to hide who this guy was, Ted?
DANSON I don’t know about frustrating, because I had my hands full just trying to fulfill the script. But watching it, I would go, “You’re either doing a really good job, Ted, or that’s some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen.” And I couldn’t quite make up my mind.

BELL Around Episode 8 of the first season, my husband [Dax Shepard] said, “I love your show, but my one critique is that Ted is just wildly underused. He’s just kind of one-note.” And I didn’t tell him the twist, because I can keep a secret.

DANSON [Silently mouths] I can’t.

BELL I couldn’t tell him that there was a very specific reason you’ve never seen Michael on camera by himself, that all those choices were leading up to something wonderful.

DANSON It was hard.

BELL Keeping the secret?

DANSON No, that was easy, because I didn’t. But I didn’t know how to be funny.

BELL I don’t think you realize how funny it is when you’re bumbling.

DANSON I don’t.

BELL It’s pretty cute.

So Kristen, were you looking forward to working with the unleashed Ted Danson in Season 2?
BELL Big time. That terrifying cackle he gave at the end of Season 1, I was like, “What is in store?”

What’s in store is that Michael changes — he starts the season torturing humans and ends as something of a guardian angel.
DANSON Well, he’s madly in love with humans. And I think he recognizes that Eleanor’s way smarter than he is.

BELL I agree.

DANSON He watches her change and still be doomed. And if you can change in the afterlife, you should be able to garner points or something. The system sucks, and it just seems horribly unfair to him that people he’s grown to love don’t stand a chance to be in the Good Place.

As a viewer, I have no idea where the show is going in Season 3. You blew up the premise at the end of Season 1, then took the setting for both seasons and stuck it in a museum on hell. The humans are back on Earth, but for how long?
DANSON Nice try, thinking you can get us to tell you something about Season 3. Not me.

BELL It’s impossible not to say at the end of each of our seasons, “Where on Earth are they going to put us?” No pun intended. “What is going to happen, how could we possibly raise the stakes?” But they figure it out. They are given a problem in that writers room and they figure it out. I don’t even know how they do it, but it’s fascinating what they do.

Kristen, when you were on TheWrap’s comedy actors panel, you talked about how we’re in a time where we need heroes who are good — that we’re not looking for Walter White or Tony Soprano anymore. Do you think this is a show for its time?
BELL I do. I think that when your reality is comfortable, you can be entertained by something uncomfortable. When your reality is more uncomfortable, I think you want to see people fighting for good. You want to see something relatable: “Oh, those people are in a crazy/s—ty situation as well, and they’re figuring it out, and they have hope and drive.”

I think that’s why our show has been successful, because people enjoy that these characters are fighting for goodness amidst all their bumbling complexities and idiotic behavior.

DANSON When I think about Mike Schur, one of the things I think about is that he’s a decent man. And I think to talk about decency and ethics and consequences and do it with a 9-year-old’s fart sense of humor and magical visual effects, it’s just brilliant.

Was the morality of it, for lack of a better word, one of the reasons you were interested?
DANSON I don’t think I got it until I started watching the shows and would see Eleanor wrap up a little moral to our story. It took me a while to get it. You must have gotten it faster.

BELL For sure. In that love fest with Mike in our first meeting, I realized that he, too, has long been preoccupied with what it means to be a good person. I felt a connection with him.

So you have that preoccupation as well?
BELL Oh, yeah. It began as your regular old therapeutic codependency. I wanted to please people, and I want to be liked, and I’m afraid to disappoint people. And in learning how to manage that a little bit more, and figure out how to be good to myself with self-care and boundaries, I realized that a lot of my codependency was things that I really enjoyed, and some of it wasn’t codependency at all. It was just who I wanted to be.

There is a part that recognizes that good behavior makes me feel good. Who knows if there will ever be a reward, but the reward of feeling good is enough for me right now.

Ted, was it as much fun for you as it was for the audience when you showed up as a bartender in a scene late in Season 2?
DANSON No! I hate getting behind a bar. It took me a year on “Cheers” to not be embarrassed or shy. I was so not a bar person or a confident Romeo. I was a backwards, shy kind of kid. Took me almost a year to get that Sam Malone relief-pitcher, bartender arrogance. So having stopped that, I seriously have anxiety stepping behind a bar. It was a great scene, but I was so uncomfortable.

Had you two met before this series?
BELL We had. My husband and I had just watched the first season of “Damages,” which is so good. Ted plays Arthur Frobisher, and we were so obsessed with it that for that year or two, we changed our alias to get mail to Holly and Arthur Frobisher.

Then I booked this movie called “Big Miracle,” which Ted was also in. And I met him for the first time in Alaska in this lobby of the hotel. And I said, “Hello, Mr. Danson, my name is Kristen Bell. I don’t want to freak you out, but I do want to let you know that I am checked into this hotel as Holly Frobisher.” And he was like, “Oh, OK. Very nice to meet you.” I realized in retrospect that was maybe not a good opener.

DANSON Captain Cook.

BELL It was the Captain Cook Hotel. Did it freak you out when I told you I was checked in as Mrs. Frobisher?

DANSON Well, maybe.

BELL Did you, like, tell the ADs to keep me away?

DANSON No. And now that I know you and Dax, I can see how much fun you must have had doing it.

BELL Oh, we loved it.

I hear you took Ted to his first escape room, and I’m wondering if there will be a second.
DANSON No. No f—ing way.

BELL Shut up! There will be a second escape room. First of all, if Mary [Steenburgen, Danson’s wife] and I have anything to say about it, there will be.

DANSON Mary is dying to go again.

BELL I should have done more research, so this one is on me. I should have realized that this was an escape room where A, they split your group up, which is already no fun, and B, they turn off the lights, so it’s pitch black. You are given flashlights, and Ted just sat down on the little twin bed that was in the room and handed Dax his flashlight…

DANSON And just stretched out.

BELL Meanwhile, Mary was killing it on our side. She was an amazing detective.

DANSON It wasn’t just that the lights were out and I like to take naps. It’s also that I was with the guys, and the guys are meant to relax. If I’m around women, I’m up and interested. If it’s the guys, I’m gonna stretch out. There’s no one to impress.

Getting back to your show, do you have any ideas of how you’d like things to end for your characters?
DANSON I can guarantee that whatever I could possibly imagine would fall so short of whatever comes out of Mike’s noggin.

BELL Ditto. Yeah. We know our place, and we’re so happy to live here.

It’s a good place?
BELL Exactly. I have no problem leaving the heavy lifting up to them.

Read more of TheWrap’s Comedy/Drama/Actors Emmy issue here.

Magazine Scans > 2018 > The Wrap
Photo Sessions & Outtakes > 2018 > The Wrap

Kristen Bell and other comedy stars on unlikable characters and the rise of nostalgia

Kristen Bell and other comedy stars on unlikable characters and the rise of nostalgia

LA Times – Editor’s note: This interview took place before Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet caused ABC to cancel “Roseanne” on Tuesday.

In tumultuous times such as these, comedy is more essential than ever. It offers some common ground, some (mostly) safe space and, best of all, a good time. “Everybody is dying for a little bit of comic relief,” says Eric McCormack whose “Will & Grace” recently relaunched after 10 years away. McCormack was one of six comedic actors from shows both new and familiar to join the Envelope for a free-flowing conversation that at one point threatened to make a left-turn into an intervention for “Glow’s” Marc Maron.

Along with McCormack (whose “Will & Grace” regathers its original cast) and Maron (whose series is about the launch of women’s wrestling and the cocaine-sniffing director behind it), were Kristen Bell (“The Good Place,” an examination of morality set in the afterlife), Bill Hader (“Barry,” a hitman who wants to be an actor), Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne,” the family we know and love some 20 years later) and Justina Machado (“One Day at a Time,” a family similar to the one we know and love some 30 years later). Between the giggles, the group touched on such topics as diversity, nostalgia, bad dye jobs and the Fonz.

Here are excerpts from that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

The characters that most of you play, how do I say this, they’re not warm, fuzzy and likable.

Sara Gilbert: How dare you?

Eric McCormack: I like to think of myself as fuzzy.

For instance, there’s a self-centeredness to Will, to Eleanor. You are—

Bill Hader: I murder people, so I think I take the cake pretty much in unlikable.

McCormack: But I think that actually speaks to the sophistication of the audience that’s grown over the years. There was a time when a network executive would say, “They’re not likable enough! We have to love them!”

Hader: Yeah, actually it’s the opposite now, we went in to pitch the show [to HBO], and it was like, “I’m gonna be a hit man who wants to be an actor, but it’s going to be very grounded; the violence is very real.” And they were the ones that said, “Oh, and he takes an acting class so that he can get in touch with his emotions.” And we were like, “Yes. You’re right! That’s what we thought.” Like they’re telling you, “We don’t want a thing that’s safe,” because there’s so much of it now.

Gilbert: I said this when I was a kid — it might speak to my character in a bad way — but I said, “Nice isn’t funny.” You know? So if your character is too nice, unless they’re a doormat, it’s really not that funny.

Kristen Bell: There’s nothing funny about perfection, for sure. And then the archetypes that you used to have to have when there were only five movies out a year and it was really just like playing with Barbie and Ken — people want the complexity of characters. And they also want to have some sort of catharsis where you can sort of picture yourself on the screen. And we are messy and complex and have bad character defects and so when you see that represented, it just makes the whole thing more interesting, more unpredictable.

Marc Maron: Someone came up to me and said about Sam Sylvia from “Glow,” “Everyone knew that asshole.” And I’m like, “Thank you. Yeah, a familiar asshole”

So for people who might not know, how would you describe him?

Maron: He’s a guy that doesn’t know he’s washed up and he’s got a little bit of a cocaine problem and he thinks he’s on top of stuff and he’s running the show. I would say he’s mildly sexist, but also, he’s incredibly vulnerable to one or two people. … And whose dad wasn’t that guy?

There will be a therapy session after.

Hader: This is actually a thing for you, Marc, where we’ve met here today to talk to you about—

Justina Machado: An intervention.

Maron: Do you mind if I conference my dad in?

With “Roseanne” and “One Day at a Time,” the idea of working-class, you don’t often see it on TV.

Machado: It went away, the middle-class hero went away, and then everything started to be very slick, and I kind of understand that because you want to escape. But still these stories are so relatable and representation matters. I cannot say that enough. We have a show that is relatable, but we’re just telling it through a Latino lens, and we’re showing everybody that we’re more alike than we are different, you know? So we’re going through the same things. Everyday things, we take them and they’re funny. We’re just telling American stories.

Speak a little bit about “Roseanne” and “Will & Grace” coming back now.

McCormack: At first, there was a fear of like, “Are we just going to try to be the same thing and we can’t be because we’re older?” Then it was, “Oh wait, we’re older, maybe that’s the key. Maybe tapping into the fact that they’ve been alive for 10 years in this country and they’re living in this nightmare right now, and let’s make that into something. Let’s allow that to inform the show and the characters and it becomes deeper.”

Gilbert: Yeah, for me, the aim of the show is to tell these people’s stories and do them justice, and I want people to relate to their joys and to their struggles, and as long as you’re doing that honestly, I don’t really think it matters which time period you’re in, as long as you’re true to these people.

With so much more programming, there are more roles for women, for people of color, for gay, gender fluid, whatever it is. And I had read something that you had said about working on “Glow” that was interesting because you were surrounded by women.

Maron: Well, that’s not the best way to phrase it but yeah.

Bell: Underwater with women.

Maron: They’re just all over the place. Everywhere I turn, there’s a woman —

Hader: I open up my door, and it’s 1960s Beatles.

Maron: I’ve never been around this many women in my life, and I say that in a nice way. The entire set and people behind the camera, the showrunners, to me I was just happy that I’m playing a part where I can watch them all. Because they have to learn to wrestle, and they’re going through this stuff; it’s insane. There were times where [co-stars] Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin would wrestle, and it was like watching theater. Like, I’d get choked up. It was sort of amazing to be one of the only men in the cast, because they were all sort of becoming this team and they’re becoming close on and off screen. It’s had a positive effect on me is what I’m trying to say.

Kristen, for you doing lots of film, lots of television, have you noticed the change in terms of not just the roles that are available but the premises of shows?

Bell: Yeah, it’s an interesting conversation because you say, “It’s just the girlfriend role,” and then people react like, “That’s such a tired conversation,” and you’re like, ‘Yeah, because it hasn’t been fixed!” But I feel like over the last five years, I’ve been reading roles that were better, seeing shows and movies that have a ton more female representation and diversity. There are more female showrunners. There are more female directors. There are more female leads, and they’re all sort of taking charge, and they’re writing the complexities of our side of it. We’re not going to do away with you guys…

Machado: Maybe. [laughs]

Bell: It’s not that we want you gone, just a 50/50 thing would be totally cool.

The premise of “Barry” is such a left-field idea….

Hader: Well, it came from my time at “SNL” because I had really bad anxiety and I was telling [co-creator with Hader, Alec Berg] about this and I said, “It’s this weird thing where I can do voices and impressions and things, but I don’t like being in front of an audience. I get very nervous.” And I was having massive panic attacks and bad anxiety and I was like, “Yeah, so maybe a show.” It was kind of like what we were talking about, it’s finding what is that universal emotion and letting that drive a show. [What if] the thing you’re good at and kind of maybe born to do is destroying you? And then it was, conversely, what if the thing you really wanted to do and put all your heart and soul into, you were terrible at? So we said, let’s give it stakes, life and death — what if a hitman wanted to be an actor? So that’s how that came out of my own nervousness.

McCormack: I’ve had success as an actor, but I really want to be a hitman.

Those scenes in the acting classes are hysterical and they’re so painful. Henry Winkler is so abusive.

Hader: We saw a guy in an acting class yelling at this actress, and he just broke her down and she started crying. Then she did the scene and afterwards, she went, “Thank you so much. Oh my God, thank you!” And I was like, “I’ve been in a lot of movies and TV. No one has ever done that to me.” Like, Judd Apatow is not beating me up to get me to a place. I thought it was really strange.

Besides how many great new shows there are now, there’s also this gravitation toward things we’re familiar with — “Roseanne,” “Will and Grace,” “One Day at a Time,” even beloved actors such as Ted Danson in “The Good Place” and Henry Winkler. It seems like people really want something that they know.

Machado: My show is more of a reimagining. It was more Norman Lear, I think maybe that was the familiarity that people came back for.

McCormack: Our show was in discussions about coming back before the election because we’d done a video for Hillary as the characters and it sort of sparked the reunion. But it was sort of discussed, I could hear people discussing it outside the circle as, “Oh, well that will be comfort food. I mean, it’s a throwback.”

Bell: Comfort food is delicious.

McCormack: Not only that, we didn’t need it as much a year-and-a-half ago. Right now, nobody says comfort food in a sarcastic way. Everybody is dying for a little bit of relief, comic relief, just the relief of nostalgia, the relief of characters that we can rely on because they’ve been around for a while. Because not only is everything changing politically, it’s as we say, there’s 500 shows, so if one of them is something that is a bit familiar and a bit — like you used to watch with your mom. When I think of watching “M*A*S*H” with my dad or watching “All in the Family” with my dad, it was tremendously influential on me, but it’s also a huge emotional impact. So when people say, “I’m watching ‘Will & Grace’ now but with my kids,” or “I didn’t ever watch “Will & Grace,” I was too young, but I watch it now with my grandmother,” I mean, there’s something to that.

Gilbert: I also think nostalgia was just a huge untapped market. It’s this big emotion we all have. We go to our high school reunions. We think back fondly to our grade-school friends. And it had never been used in television to the full extent and I think now people are realizing— especially because we’re cutting the pie so small with so many shows — if they go back to shows that were on the air when the pie was bigger, you can reach those people plus new people.

Hader: I was showing my kids “Back to the Future,” and when it goes into the ‘50s I was like, “That was your grandfather’s comfort food,” and then when it’s present day I’m like, “Well, this is my comfort food.” You know what I mean? It was like the two levels of it.

Maron: Did you show them Fonzie?

Hader: Yeah, I did. And I go, “That’s Henry at work,” and they were like, “Wow, so he was cool?” And I go, “He was the coolest guy in the world.”

McCormack: He was the coolest guy.

Hader: He did Fonzie once [for] me and Alec Berg. He was just telling a story and he went into the voice and he was like, “I told these people, [in Fonzie voice] ‘Part like the Red Sea.’” That’s what he said to a bunch of fans, and I mean, I got chills. When I was a kid, that’s what television was, him hitting a jukebox and everything.”

I wanted to ask you about Eleanor on “The Good Place” because she has one of the most interesting character arcs just even in one season.

Bell: I am incredibly interested in someone who is inherently unlikable on the page and then figuring out how to get you to root for them. That’s such a stimulating challenge for me because you read it and you’re like, “Oh, this girl is kind of a jerk,” but then I’m like, “OK, what can I do and where can I layer little bits of humanity into her but still keep the comedy of the jerk?” It was also not just about her, it was all layered in with everyone else’s arc, to get us to end of the first season’s reveal. Spoiler alert, there’s a big change. It’s hell. It’s not heaven, I’m so sorry.

Hader: Well, that was a waste of a download.

[laughter]

Gilbert: I didn’t feel like there was enough space between “spoiler alert” and the spoil.

McCormack: Yes, you needed to stretch that one out a little bit.

Bell: I’m still working on my timing. Spoiler alert, I’m still working on my timing. But yeah, I just saw someone who wasn’t maybe great at reading a room and genuinely was just concerned with how she was feeling at all times. It’s just all about Eleanor. And that’s a really, really fun thing to play. To disregard all other humans is a very fun place to be because I’m paranoid in my real life about disregarding people.

Gilbert: And I think it’s like if you’re funny, people are going to like your character. No matter how evil it is or twisted, it’s like you confuse them with the emotion of pleasure watching you and they start liking you.

McCormack: Larry Linville on “M*A*S*H” as Frank Burns. I don’t think he had a moment where you actually liked the man he was. But you couldn’t stop loving him on your screen.

[To Machado] Was there a great sort of pressure in that “One Day at a Time” is a show that people loved back in the day. They expect a certain thing?

Machado: Not because of that. The trepidation was only to make a great show with this amazing Latino cast. That was the pressure, not to be a stereotype. So many times, we’re the butt of the joke. So the pressure was on to make a show that represents us.

McCormack: Did you at least try the Bonnie Franklin haircut? I mean, please tell me that you tried it.

Machado: [laughs] I have it! We did this whole promo where I was being Bonnie Franklin, but, oh wow, that was not good. I looked like…it was terrible. There’s a color hair that Latinas always get if they go cheap and it’s like the red hair.

Gilbert: I think there is pressure if you’re representing an underrepresented group that networks and all the people who make the decisions are going to decide if they can do it again. Nobody is ever like, “Oh, we tried that white guy show; we can’t make another.”

Machado: I don’t know, white people don’t seem to like it.

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