Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell began dating in 2007 — just three years ahead of Parenthood's series premiere — and tied the knot in 2013
On Monday, the actor, 44, opened up during his podcast The Armchair Expert to guest Chris D’Elia about a time where he had to make a choice between his relationship and career.
Shepard, who is known for portraying Crosby Braverman on Parenthood for five years, explained that he initially passed up the role on the NBC series for his now-wife — a decision that he said was very uncharacteristic of him — because the series was going to be filmed on the other side of the country.
“Just recently for me — Kristen was the first person [that] a few years in, basically that choice was presented to me and I chose her which blew my mind,” Shepard told D’Elia on the podcast.
“I got offered Parenthood — I hadn’t acted in a long time, no one was offering me anything and they said, ‘This show shoots in Philadelphia’ and I said, ‘There’s no way I can be in this relationship and move to Philadelphia,'” the actor explained.
Shepard continued: “I turned that show down — which, by the way, is certainly the first time in my life that I had ever done that… I couldn’t believe I was doing it.”
He also noted how he “very much wanted to be on that show” and found the idea of a “weird, separate life in Philadelphia” to be “very appealing.”
Things ultimately worked out for the actor when NBC moved the show’s filming spot to Los Angeles, which led Shepard to officially take on the role of lovably charismatic and at times, partially self-serving Braverman sibling.
He was also able to maintain his relationship with Bell, 38, who he’s been with for nearly 12 years.
“What’s so ironic is you make a decision like that, and then weirdly, you’re rewarded,” he said.
Since that first big decision, the pair has faced other challenges and they’re the first to admit their time together has 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 recently told PEOPLE in the current issue’s cover story.
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 Ranch star.
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 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,” recalled Shepard. “I want to be around it when I’m 80, but how?”
The pair also had to compromise about marriage — something that Shepard didn’t initially believe in, leading the Bad Moms actress to accept the fact 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,” explained 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 decided to, once again, show his commitment to her.
“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.”