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Kristen Bell opens up about her marriage to Dax Shepard

Kristen Bell opens up about her marriage to Dax Shepard

YOU Magazine 

Therapy, nudity and endless tubes of toothpaste: when it comes to having a successful Hollywood career and marriage, actress Kristen Bell has some incredibly frank and very funny advice…

As soon as Kristen Bell bounds into her publicist’s Beverly Hills office and leaps on to the sofa beside me, I can tell we are going to get along. The talented star of Forgetting Sarah MarshallBad Moms and Frozen (she was the voice of plucky Princess Anna) is quirky, charming and confiding, and we immediately bond over the ups and downs of being a mum.

Married to actor and director Dax Shepard, star of the TV series Parenthood, the couple live in Los Angeles with their daughters, five-year-old Lincoln, named after the iconic American president and the car (‘Dax has a 67 Lincoln that he’s been fixing up since he was 24’), and Delta, three. ‘I love my kids more than life itself, but they are also disgusting, feral creatures who live in my home. My daughter gave me pinworms recently,’ says Kristen, chatting nineteen to the dozen.

We’ve got together to discuss the 38-year-old actress’s latest role in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, a ‘funny and irreverent’ animated film based on the TV series. The Teen Titans [young superheroes who want to be taken seriously by the heavy hitters] ‘believe they deserve their own movie like all the other superheroes. I play Jade, a director who wants to make a film with them. She is exactly how you’d imagine a Hollywood director to be: big promises, sweeping statements and she’s a bit of a control freak.Kristen loves animation: ‘There is something challenging about only having your voice to convey emotion and leaving it to the animators to come up with your facial expressions.

Lincoln and Delta must be thrilled that their mum is in the coolest family films. ‘They don’t care!’ she says. ‘They assume all parents voice cartoons. They’ve seen Frozen and one of them has the Elsa dress…not mine!’ Her daughters are under no illusion about the mechanics of cartoons. ‘When we watch [the TV show] PAW Patrol and a scary dragon appears, my little one says, “That’s not a dragon. It’s a man making a voice in the microphone,” and I’ll go, “You’re absolutely right.” We tell them all about the messiness of life.

We order lunch and she launches into a hilarious diatribe about her husband’s questionable culinary skills. ‘He calls himself “This Doctor”. One time, he decided to eat only broccoli for a week. He said it was “This Doctor’s First Superfood Cleanse”. It lasted four days! Now he is on a kick where he is only cooking meals we had as children in Michigan [Dax and Kristen were both raised in the Midwestern state], made with mayonnaise, Ritz crackers or a can of beans. He calls it “This Doctor’s First Worst Superfood Cleanse”.’

Kristen loves to cook, ‘but Dax has no desire to eat my food,’ she sighs. ‘When we met, I was desperate to impress him. I’d be wearing jeans shorts, cooking a three-course meal… No interest from Dax,’ who would ‘suffer through it’ and then suggest a takeaway. ‘He is the only man I know who doesn’t want a 1950s housewife.

Together for 11 years and married for five, the couple had a pact not to walk down the aisle until same-sex marriage became legal in California. ‘Dax makes me laugh even when I’m angry at him. He’s also romantic.Kristen’s favourite animals are sloths (‘They make me happy’) and, with the help of an expert, Dax ‘once arranged to have a sloth in our living room so I could learn about it. It was the nicest present I’ve ever received.

Kristen is candid about the challenges of relationships. ‘We fight about everything,’ she says, recalling how she used to get so frustrated with her husband that ‘I would slam the door to the room we were in, slam the door of the house, slam the car door and drive around the corner,’ before cooling off.

Couples counselling has helped, with Kristen and Dax learning how to defuse potentially volcanic rows before they escalate. Their therapist told Kristen: ‘The next fight you have, you can slam the front door, but don’t get in your car; then the fight after that, you can mentally slam the door.’ Five months later, all door slamming, both real and imaginary, had stopped. ‘We still fight, but don’t take disagreements to heart. I know he’s on my team. If you have a long marriage that thrives without therapy, please call me because you are a unicorn!

Counselling, says Kristen, has helped her to understand that everyone has deep-seated patterns, rooted in childhood. An example is her husband’s idiosyncratic shopping rituals. ‘He will buy 30 of the same item: toothpaste, butter, anything. I’m like, “We don’t have space.” Now I realise he thinks everything is going to run out because he grew up poor. So rather than try to change him, I reorganised the laundry room. I know he needs to have 30 tubes of toothpaste available at all times.

As for her own behaviour? ‘I think I’m perfect,’ she jokes, before revealing that her own ‘annoying habit is talking a lot, in a nonlinear fashion. This is how Dax describes me telling a story: “I saw Sarah at the grocery store – you know, Sarah, who I knew when I was living with my mum, before she had her boyfriend Dick – but not the second Dick, the one with the kid, also named Sarah…”’ Kristen takes a deep breath. ‘He’s like, “What is the story here?”’Dax ‘now understands that because I’ve always been small and didn’t get listened to when I was a kid, I struggled with feeling that nothing I said was of value. That’s why I have this scattered approach when I talk, because I’m trying to be heard.’ She gives me a friendly tap on the shoulder. ‘Good luck making sense of anything I say,’ she laughs.

One reason their marriage works is because they ‘have splendid debates and hate the same things: unkind people and a lack of self-responsibility’. They also share a similar approach to parenting. While liberal in some respects (‘We let the girls wear what they want – my five-year-old wears ballet leotards exclusively’), Kristen says that discipline is also important. ‘Other than at weekends, the girls can only watch television once a week when we all watch Planet Earth.

The family are delightfully laid-back about nudity. ‘I’m naked way more than anyone else I know – but not on purpose. If it’s 7am and I’m trying to get dressed and one of the kids is begging for yoghurt, I will forget that I don’t have a top on.’ Is she body confident? ‘I have a fine body; I’ve had two children. I don’t dwell on it. I hope I bring something to the table with my personality, not because I have a flat stomach.

The couple will not be expanding their family, says Kristen, who had a pregnancy scare when Delta was 11 weeks old, while she was filming The Boss. ‘I told Dax, “I feel nauseous. I need you to get me a pregnancy test” and I saw the blood drain out of his face. It was a false alarm, but four days later he got a vasectomy.

Kristen’s parents – Lorelei, a nurse, and Tom, a television executive – split up when she was two, but she says she had a happy childhood with her two stepsisters and four half-siblings. She viewed divorce as ‘just having more people who loved me’. She says, ‘I’m a positive person. When I was 16, if I was in a fight with my mum, I would drive to my dad’s and vice versa, which was amazing!

I’ve rarely met someone as upbeat as Kristen, yet as a teenager she suffered from depression. Although she won a place at New York University, some of her experience was pretty distressing. ‘I dealt with a lot of ups and downs. The ups were super-exciting. I was getting auditions and I had a boyfriend who loved me, yet little things upset me. If a piece of clothing didn’t fit, or my toothbrush fell into the rubbish bin, tears would come down my face. Nothing was really wrong, but I felt sad. It was scary,’ she says.

She learned that ‘both my grandmother and my mum dealt with depression, so there is a hereditary line. We’re not going to figure out where depression comes from, but we have the opportunity to treat it and have better lives.’ Since her student days, Kristen has taken antidepressants. ‘I don’t believe in over-prescrbing anything, but I have a serotonin imbalance, which is akin to having diabetes.

There are concerns about her children inheriting the condition. ‘I’ll have the same conversation with them that my mum had with me: “Sometimes you might feel sad and not know why. If you feel that way, talk to me.” I don’t want them to feel there’s a stigma.’ The girls are encouraged to express their feelings. ‘I tell them, “Don’t be afraid of your emotions – you’re allowed to cry”.’

By confronting her issues, Kristen has fostered resilience in her personal life and career. She has starred in the popular TV shows Veronica Mars and Heroes and gained a following as the enigmatic narrator of Gossip Girl. Her big-screen breakthrough was the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Russell Brand. ‘I adore Russell; he has a lot of cuckoo opinions, but so do I,’ says Kristen.

Her most celebrated role has been Anna in the Oscar-winning Frozen. The film subverts ‘prince rescuing princess’ stereotypes: ‘The boy doesn’t matter. It’s about a girl [Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel] who’s struggling because she doesn’t want to be who she actually is – a queen. People wanted to see Elsa accept who she is. That’s what every little person who lives inside us wants.’ In next year’s Frozen 2, ‘the sisters are back in the kingdom of Arendelle. It tells the bigger story about these girls and who they are meant to be.

Kristen has the knack of tapping into the zeitgeist with the roles she chooses. ‘It’s just luck,’ she says, ‘but one secret is saying yes a lot. When you think things are beneath you, you miss out on a lot of fun.

Her latest TV series is the brilliantly inventive hit sitcom The Good Place. She stars as the self-centred Eleanor Shellstrop, who when she dies ends up in a heaven-like utopia because of what appears to be a bureaucratic error. ‘The premise is: What if an a**hole got into heaven?’ In this pristine place, bad language is banned and, when Eleanor tries to swear, the words come out distorted, as ‘shirt’ or ‘fork’ or ‘ash-hole’. ‘I swear all the time and on set when I’m supposed to say fork, I still say f***. I have to train myself.’ Eleanor decides to earn her place by trying to be good.

Ted Danson plays the mercurial Michael, an angel who oversees the afterlife community. ‘Ted is like a 16-year-old boy – goofy, funny and kind,’ says Kristen. Moral philosophy is at the heart of the series, which is about ‘how every choice you make affects someone else’, she says. The show’s creator, Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation), dreamt up the concept for The Good Place after becoming aware that he would only tip the staff in his local coffee shop when they were looking his way. ‘He wanted to explore how selfishness and greed exist in us. But we all have empathy and goodness, too. If you nurture those qualities, they will rise to the top.Kristen’s philosophy? ‘Being good involves practice. If you choose it consistently, it starts to become second nature. I strive to promote happiness and alleviate suffering however I can. How we relate to one another is important.

Which brings us back to the subject of relationships and why they work. Kristen has been quoted as saying that monogamy is tough. ‘I see the benefits of a society with monogamous relationships, but it’s difficult because you’re still attracted to other people,’ she says. ‘Dax was in an open relationship in his 20s and it scared me when we first started dating. We don’t have one and I don’t know if we ever will.

Kristen believes that if both partners are secure, there is no need for jealousy. ‘I think what alleviates the pressure-cooker of monogamy is understanding that your partner’s attraction to someone else is nothing to do with you. I talk about who I’m attracted to in front of Dax, and he’ll say: “I could never pick your type out in a line-up”.’ Her line-up, by the way, includes actors Benicio del Toro, Riz Ahmed and Peter Dinklage. ‘If I ever get to make out with Riz, Dax will give me a round of applause!

Likewise, says Kristen, ‘I’ve told Dax that if, one day, Jennifer Lopez comes up to him and says, “I need a weekend away with you in Sonoma [a romantic city in California’s wine region],” you have to go now, because I am clear that Jennifer Lopez’s beauty is not a reflection on me not being good enough. Here’s the thing,’ she says. ‘I love this man and I would not want him to be on his deathbed thinking, “I could have had sex with Jennifer Lopez…”’

Can-do for Kristen

FAVOURITE BREAKFAST Takeaway porridge that comes in cardboard cups. They are great because the last thing you want in the morning is to leave the house with the kids for school, knowing there is a pile of dishes waiting for you at home.
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT? Nothing. Other than my three-year-old. I’m a good sleeper.
GO-TO SONG Toto’s ‘Africa’. It’s one of the best songs ever written – Dax and I used it to get pumped up for a trip to Africa we took – so it has a special significance. It jazzes us up every time we hear it.
PLAN B I would explore working with kids because I can communicate really well with them. Maybe I’d be a nursery-school teacher.
LAST TIME YOU CRIED Reading the book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora Mclnerny Purmort. I cry all the time. When have I not cried?
HIDDEN TALENT I can read a room really well and tell what people are like right away.
BIGGEST FLAW THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOU Scrappy, kind, energetic.
WHERE ARE YOU HAPPIEST? In a pile on the couch with our ‘bunnies’ (Dax calls all the girls in our family bunnies).
MOTTO I live by the quote ascribed to Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies will be in cinemas nationwide on 3 August. The Good Place seasons one and two are available on Netflix

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.

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Why Kristen Bell says she’s ‘obsessive about food’

LA TimesKristen Bell doesn’t just buy groceries and shove them into her refrigerator. Instead, she hits up Google and does what she describes as a “deep dive” into every brand she’s purchased, every ingredient listed on each box.

Food — that’s my jam,” said “The Good Place” and “Frozen” actress. “I want to know what’s in everything. I’m obsessive about food. I want to know who made it and where it came from.

Bell was chatting before a party in West Hollywood to celebrate her other business — This Bar Saves Lives — a line of snack bars co-founded by Bell and fellow actors Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell and Ravi Patel. On this night, a couple of new flavors were being launched (dark chocolate and coconut, peanut butter and jelly) to add to the gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher products.

I’d always been struck by this feeling that charity is wonderful, but businesses could do better,” said Bell, 37. “There is a lack of giving back in the food space.

The solution, according to Bell and her co-founders? With every bar they sell, a nutrition packet will be given to a malnourished child via Plumpy’Nut — a peanut butter, powdered milk and vitamin parcel that can take “a skeletal baby at death’s door to a healthy, thriving child,” she said.

Nutritious convenience foods, prized berries from the farmers market and clever swaps — cauliflower crust pizza instead of regular — are all part of meal planning for Bell, who is married to actor Dax Shepherd, with whom she has two children. Here she shares her tips for clean eating, being ingredient-savvy, and why baby steps are better than nothing.

Stock up on go-tos

I’m really into pasta made with chickpeas. It’s got a ton of protein. It’s a little more chewy than regular pasta, but not in the way that gluten-free pasta is. And my whole household is on ghee instead of butter. There’s a California garlic one which I like to open and just smell. And a Madagascar vanilla, which I put on my kids’ waffles instead of syrup. I get a farm box that sometimes has Harry’s Berries. They’re incredible. You can maybe find them at the farmers market. … In the summer, we’ll go through six containers a week.

Listen to your body

I was vegan and am now vegetarian. I’m all about eating clean and ethically, but I also believe that it’s important to listen to your body. Some people’s bodies tell them to eat meat. There’s a better way to do it because factory farming is a nightmare. I give my children meat; the chicken they get has been raised in, basically, a spa. They get all but manicures.

Seek out the healthier option

For protein, I’m obsessed with the Beyond Burger. When I’m working out, I’ll eat two a day. When I want to do fast food, I’ll make a cauliflower crust pizza with a Beyond Burger in the middle, and I’ve got a pizza burger.

Inconsistency isn’t all bad

My workout habits aren’t as good as my eating habits. For me, 70% of feeling good is the food I eat. Working out for me is very random. L.A. has great hikes so sometimes I’ll do that. Lately it’s been Pilates. I have problems with my posture and Pilates mat and reformer help a ton with that. I use a site called Pilates Anytime where you can follow any Pilates class. I’ve taken some TRX classes at Yogaworks, which is resistance work using bands on the walls. It feels horrifying 48 hours later, but the good kind of horrifying.

Start small

This is what I tell people; you don’t have to shoot for the moon. If all you can do is 100 sit-ups on the floor while the kids are watching TV, then do that. You don’t have to commit to something for the rest of your life. Maybe try something like Whole30. You buy a book, follow the recipes and after 30 days hopefully you will notice enough of a change to make it last. But for now, just think about today.

Hit the keyboard

There is more information out there than you know. Food feels confusing, but it’s not. If you have the inkling to better your life and health, there are resources out there and a little understanding goes a long way.

Kristen Bell on why she opened up about anxiety and depression

Kristen Bell on why she opened up about anxiety and depression

Today – Kristen Bell knows people love how real she and husband Dax Shepard are, on social media and in real life.

But she has a confession: “That is choreographed,” she told TODAY Parents in an exclusive digital interview.

Bell cares deeply about protecting the privacy of their children; she does not share their photos and she stands up to paparazzo who try to sneak photos of them. So, some things about her family life she’ll share and others she definitely won’t.

“As open as we are, we’ve agreed to a certain amount of openness. And the rest is ours. And it will stay ours,” Bell told the TODAY Parenting Team’s Meredith Sinclair in an interview at the Mom 2.0 Summit. “We are fiercely territorial about our family.”

In other areas of her life, Bell is totally transparent — the mother of two and star of “Frozen,” “Bad Moms” and “The Good Place” speaks candidly about her struggles with depression and anxiety.

“I like hearing that it helped somebody. And that will always drive me to continue to overshare,” Bell said. It was her husband who first inspired her to talk about her mental health, when she asked him what she should discuss on an upcoming talk show appearance.

“It occurred to me that I was showing this very bubbly, bright persona, and that it was inauthentic. Because it wasn’t telling the whole story,” Bell told TODAY Parents. “I had a pit in my stomach for almost feeling ashamed that I had hidden it for so long, because it could’ve helped people before if I had talked about it.”

“I’m grateful to my husband for saying, ‘No, you should just talk about it.’ Like he talks about the fact that he’s sober, and that helps people,” Bell said. “And I now have not stopped talking about it, mainly because I want people to hear that it’s not a big deal and that you can be happy and healthy.”

Bell, who said her goal in life is to promote happiness and reduce suffering, is also co-founder of “This Bar Saves Lives,” a company that donates a life-saving nutrition package to a child in need for every snack bar it sells.

As for anyone who judges her, or another mom, or any person dealing with mental health issues?

“It’s a joke if you think everybody’s not hiding some secret shame about being anxiety-riddled or depressed at some point,” Bell said with a laugh. “We’re all there, OK? ‘Everybody’s crazy. It’s not a competition.”

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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