The characters played by Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell in CHIPS don't exactly have the loveliest of relationships. While he is doing what he can to try and repair their marriage and win back her affection; she truly treats him like garbage and cheats on him regularly. It's a weird dynamic when you consider the two actors are actually married with children in real life... and it actually a hump Shepard had trouble getting over. As I recently learned in an interview with Bell, it led to him being hesitant to cast her in the film when it was in early development. She explained,
He said to me initially, I said 'Can I be in the movie?' And he said, 'Well, you could play my wife.' And then later on he said, 'I don't know if I can cast you because you come across too likable.' 'First of all,' I was like, 'I can be unlikable. Get ready.' And then second of all, he was like, 'We're a couple. I don't want the audience to root for us.' We have to put up a firewall to the unbelievable chemistry we have.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kristen Bell during the CHIPS press day in Los Angeles earlier this month, and a portion of our conversation was dedicated to discussing what can only be described as the toxic bond between her character, Karen, and Dax Shepard's, John, in the movie. I asked how she felt about spewing so much venom at her husband in front of the camera, and after giving me a wry smile, she went on to tell me about how it was concerns about exactly that that made the writer/director think twice about casting her.
To Kristen Bell's credit, she definitely puts all concerns to bed with her performance. Just because you generally want to see a protagonist get his life in order, you do sympathize with John Baker's attempts to get back together with his wife (he becomes a California Highway Patrol officer because her dad was a cop). That being said, the perspective on this matter changes completely when you actually meet her, because, again, Karen treats John like complete dirt.
Continuing her thought, Kristen Bell noted that she is proud of her performance in CHIPS and that it all really just required looking at Dax Shepard in a particular light:
I think we accomplished it. He thankfully took a chance on me, and I just tried to look at him with the filter of disgust, which of course only lasted between action and cut because I love him so much.
You can watch Kristen Bell talk about her experience working with Dax Shepard on CHIPS in the video below!