So when it came time to shoot a new ad campaign with Samsung appliances, there wasn’t that much acting involved because the clips mirror their own chaotic lives!
“The premise of this commercial is we have two kids, all of our friends have two or more kids, going out to a restaurant is suicide, so if you want to hang, it’s gonna be a house party,” Shepard, 40, tells PEOPLE. “It revolves around us trying to hang out with our friends and prepare for that.”
PEOPLE caught up with the House of Lies actress, 34, and former Parenthood star Shepard, who shared what adorable milestones their 2-year-old and 5-month-old daughters are reaching (spoiler alert: one of them quotes GoT!), how they celebrated Mother’s Day — and whether or not their kids are Frozen fans.
The clips really mirror your lives then — can you talk a little bit more about the challenges that come with having two kids and balancing a social life?
Shepard: Because of Kristen’s really busy schedule and my busy schedule, all three of these commercials have been shot on weekends because it’s been the only slots that we both have. That also means that our kids are on set most of the day, and it’s weirdly about the most one-on-one time Kristen and I have gotten with each other over the last six months. When we film ’em, it’s just her and I interacting for 10 straight hours, and it’s actually a really neat little vacation for us.
Bell: We pretty much hold hands the whole day while we shoot because when we’re at home, it’s mano a mano. One person’s got one kid, the other person’s got the other kid. So it’s a treat to get to shoot these things and work together.
Shepard: It’s our date night.
You’ve worked together before — sometimes they say you shouldn’t work with your significant other, but it works out pretty well for you two.
Shepard: I think the rule of thumb is it either is a terrible idea and explosive, or it’s perfect, so we got lucky in that we really love working together. But we worked together the first time when we had only been dating for a few months, so maybe because we started that way or something. There’s nobody I like working with more.
Bell: There’s a lot of trust involved because we know each other’s intentions and brains so well that to have an ally on set is lovely.
It sounds like you two have such a healthy balance—what’s your secret to communicating so effectively?
Bell: We have a really specific family calendar because in order to maximize snuggle time for anybody, everything has to be organized, and we have to make sure no appointments overlap, and we have to make sure there’s always someone around for each kid. To stay working parents, I think the biggest trick is, we’ve become extraordinarily territorial of our home time with them. We won’t let anything eat into it.
Shepard: It’s worked out in the cosmos where we are rarely working at the same time, but one of us always has more of a time commitment than the other. For the last eight weeks, Kristen’s been shooting this Melissa McCarthy movie, which means she is on set 12 hours a day, but that just means four of the seven days, I’m there, and I’m bringing the kids to set twice a day. You know, what it really means is every single second that we’re not working, we’re here with the kids.
Kristen’s been busy with filming, but did you guys get a little down time to celebrate Mother’s Day?
Shepard: We were shooting on Mother’s Day. The kids had secretly ordered a new marble island for her that she discovered when she got home.
Bell: Yes, they got me a very nice countertop for my kitchen, which — as a mom who does cook like a banshee — it is euphoric in my kitchen now.
What thoughtful, practical children you have!
Shepard: I think it’s just impressive that they knew the contractor’s cellphone number because they’re not even allowed to use phones.
With the genes they’ve got, your kids must be pretty hilarious — what’s the funniest thing they’ve done lately?
Shepard: Our oldest one is talking a lot now, and obviously the things that she parrots are hilarious. We’re big Game of Thrones fans, so we’ve trained her to say, “Winter is coming.” And “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” These are catchphrases of hers. You know, standard stuff like that. We dress her up in Jon Snow’s outfit — I should say Kristen dresses her up in Jon Snow’s outfit.
Bell: I got her a pretty cool chainmail suit with a big sword and a hood and a nice sort of felted, fake-fur knight-watch cape, and I made her stand on her—
Shepard: —castle-shaped jungle gym—
Bell: —yeah, and she didn’t understand a lick of it, but it really made me happy.
Are they big Frozen fans?
Bell: They don’t watch TV — they know nothing about it.
So the older one doesn’t even know that her mom is a princess?
Shepard: I mean, she thinks she’s a princess just based on Kristen’s own charisma. She holds her in pretty high regard. She doesn’t know what a princess is … so whatever’s highest in her mind is what Kristen is.
Your older daughter just turned 2 — how’d you celebrate?
Shepard: We probably would be disappointing to most people. We’re not big on pageantry to tell you the truth. We have tried to figure out how to live between a 4 and a 7, not a 1 and a 10, so I think our kind of parenting technique is to try not to get to a 10, and that means we’re not feeding her a whole birthday cake, and we’re not shooting fireworks off. We’re just trying to be less spectacular and get them more interested in the simpler things like bugs and nature and these kinds of things.
Bell: There were some balloons, and we did sing “Happy Birthday” quite a bit, which is, I suppose, her favorite song. She sang “Happy Birthday” to the carrots this morning at the grocery store, so if she is in a very good mood or likes you a lot, she’ll hit you with a “Happy Birthday.” This morning I guess she was a fan of the carrots.
Kristen, any scoop you can give me on Frozen 2?
Bell: Ugh! Believe me, if I had the scoop, I would whisper it in your ear. I know nothing, Jon Snow.
Shepard: We are ecstatic, though. We were waiting for two years with fingers crossed that this would happen, so this is the biggest news of the year.
Bell: It was such a fun experience. We’re still all really, really close, but even the creative team — we don’t have much control over whether or not we do a Frozen 2. We’re so excited that they decided to do it so we can all get back together again soon and hopefully give the people what they want!
— Jeff Nelson