As an actor, I imagine one has to be semi-comfortable with leaving it all out there. And by all, I mean personal lives and private parts. It's one thing worrying about exposing yourself to the public, but I assume having a significant other with the same profession could be stressful or maybe awkward at times if they have to expose themselves on screen, too. When sitting down with CHIPS stars Dax Shepard and Michael Pena, who both speak to the intense sex scenes they've had in their careers, they explain why they never allow this part of the job to cause friction between them and their wives. As Shepard bluntly states: "If you’re not secure, you should not date an actor. If you’re a jealous person, it’s not a good idea." Still, I wonder: Does seeing the public reactions ever make either party jealous? These guys help break it down.
In the film, out March 24, Shepard shows off nearly all of his body, and his wife Kristen Bell appears as a total bombshell with extra large boobs (that, as she said on Ellen, were a process to achieve). How does Shepard feel about the world seeing so much of him and his wife? Well, he doesn't really understand America's obsession (or lack thereof) of sex to begin with.
"When I’m on my soapbox, what it usually is about is how puritanical this country is and I can’t stand it," says the 42-year-old. "These are the things I’m fighting. I think the way that Americans are hung up on sex is just so embarrassing." If anything, Shepard and Pena hate faking sex scenes.
Not to say it doesn't get weird, but it's part of the job. "I’ve done some sex scenes where we’re both naked, I got a sock on or whatever, at first it’s weird and then you just start talking and you forget," Pena says. "You can tell when actors don’t do that." Shepard agrees, saying he even encourages Bell to be more authentic in sex scenes of her own.
"She, many years ago, was very against when actors kiss with tongue in movies. And I’m like, ‘Bullsh*t. You do as much as you can do to make the thing real,’" Shepard says. There's such little jealousy, in fact, that Shepard pushes her to get really into it. "I’ve actually yelled at her like, ‘You better f*cking kiss T.I. with tongue, you better make it happen,'" he says, referencing House of Lies. If not, he says it's like "watching people fake eat in a scene." That said, communication and understanding is what makes it all work.
"My wife doesn’t care. I have her read the scripts, she [takes a breath], and then that’s it," Pena says about his wife Brie Shaffer. "At the end of the day, whatever girl you're doing it with, you wanna be cool, and you wanna have a connection and little bit of rhythm, so you have fun with it."
Shepard admits that respecting his wife's wishes is what prevented him from not showing himself completely naked in the film. "I could care less, personally. I do ask [Kristen], because I think penises are super funny," he says. "My preference would be to show my penis in things because I think they’re so goofy looking... She does not feel that way, so I don’t."
And it goes both ways. He recognizes there are countless fans who go googly-eyed over his wife, but he doesn't even concern himself with what people have to say — especially on the internet. "That’s something that doesn’t exist for me. My life is like: Wake up, see my kids, go to breakfast, work with my wife, she yells at me for this, I tell her to shut the cabinet doors, I have an appointment," he says. "At no point in that day am I taking time to think about what a 22-year-old dude in Illinois is doing. It’s just not in my world."
Of course Shepard can read what people say, but why would he waste his time? "I would have to go out of my way to try to get worked up about that and I choose not to," he says. He's admirably indifferent about it. "It’s neither that I’m proud of it or that I'm nervous about it. It’s just like, ‘I went there and did this thing, now let’s go eat.’"
Pena acknowledges that he and his wife have a clear understanding at this point in his career. "There’s a lot of weird sh*t that we do, we’re like the circus nowadays, the source of entertainment," says the 41-year-old. "Whoever you’re dating, they know what you’re doing. Going in, they understand what they’re getting themselves into."
Clearly, these guys practice what they preach, because they're still going strong with their wives after their decade-long relationships. And as for the whole non-jealousy thing? That goes for guy-on-guy scenes, too. When I ask Shepard how Bell reacted to the scene where Pena face plants in his junk, he responds, "She laughed very, very hard." So many goals.