LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dax Shepard is primarily known for his comedic work in films like “When in Rome,” “Baby Mama” and “Without a Paddle.”
The past year, however, has brought many changes in the actors’ life. On the personal front, Shepard got engaged to his girlfriend, actress Kristin Bell. Professionally, he returned to television with the family drama series “Parenthood” on U.S. network NBC.
Additionally, Shepard stepped away from the traditional studio comedies he’s been known for, choosing instead to showcase a dramatic role in the indie feature, “The Freebie.”
The film is out in U.S. theaters on Friday in limited release, before expanding in October.
Shepard stars alongside Kate Aselton as a married couple whose sex life has dwindled. They decide to give each other one night of freedom with another partner, hoping it might reignite their own relationship.
Aselton also directed the feature, and executive produced it with her husband Mark Duplass. Shot in under two weeks, “Freebie” had no script, only an outline from which the actors improvised.
Shephard spoke with Reuters about the “The Freebie”.
Q: The film tackles a sensitive subject matter that couples often think about, but aren’t always brave enough to discuss. Are “freebies” the answer for ailing sex lives?
A: “I think it’s specific to each person as everything else is. Are cupcakes a good thing for people? They’re a bad idea for me because I can’t have just one cupcake. That’s not to say I don’t think other people can’t do it or shouldn’t do it. I really don’t have a stance on that other than a personal one - which is that it would be the beginning of the end for me.”
Q: You were a last minute replacement on “The Freebie,” arriving on set 12 hours after the filmmakers called you. After working in studio films, what was it like working on a tiny, experimental film where you had to bring your own wardrobe?
A: “It was the best 11 days of shooting of my life. I’d leave my house, drive over to Katie and Mark’s home. Katie and I would get in their bed for eight hours and shoot. I felt like I was living a secret double life.”
Q: You first made you mark in television on Ashton Kutcher’s celebrity hidden camera show, “Punk‘d” in 2003. Now you’ve returned to television full-time with “Parenthood.” Why?
A: “Well, most of my movies didn’t make a load of money, that’s for sure (laughs). ‘Let’s Go to Prison’ with Will Arnett made no money. ‘Zathura’ definitely lost money. The freight train kind of came to a crawl. I had to fight my way to get in to ‘Baby Mama.’ So I decided I was going to write and not worry about trying to get roles in movies anymore.”
Q: You were in a writers meeting at (production company) Imagine Entertainment when they felt you’d be great for the role of Crosby Braverman, on their show, “Parenthood.” Were you looking to do a series?
A: “No. I thought I would hate playing the same character all the time, being at home and not traveling like I do with movies.”
Q: And now?
A: “I’ve never been happier. I‘m a factory worker at heart and this is as close as you can get to being a factory worker. I love playing this character and I love that I‘m always home. It just proves over and over again that I really have no clue what’s best for me.”
Q: You just directed an improv mockumentary called “Brothers Justice” that’s starting to make the festival rounds. And you sold a show with Imagine to the FX channel called “Killing Machines,” which you created. Between acting, writing, producing and directing, what’s the ultimate goal?
A: “It’s gonna sound like a cop-out, but I don’t have a goal. The best things that happened to me in the last year have been ‘Parenthood’ and ‘The Freebie’ and I did not plan on either of those. So I have faith that if stay out of the planning business and just focus on the showing-up-to-work business, I’ll end up somewhere just fine.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant