Sometimes, quite simply, Kristen Bell doesn't give a fork.
Not about the big stuff, of course. The native of Huntington Woods, Michigan couldn't have more gratitude for the career she's spent the last two decades building, from The Shield and Everwood guest spots, to her career-making role as sardonic teen private eye Veronica Mars to Frozen and every Good Place beyond. And there are few things in this world more precious than her 13-year relationship with fellow actor Dax Shepard and their daughters Lincoln, 7, and Delta, 5.
But the small things? The sorts of issues everyone is always telling you not to sweat? Yeah, she couldn't possibly get worked up over all of that. Take the way she responded to all the hubbub over her admission that her youngest was still using diapers at night.
After the mom shamers turned out en masse to scold her for humiliating her child with the overshare on her #Momsplaining web series, she reminded them all that, just maybe, she had a better read on her daughter's feelings, writing her 5-year-old "wouldn't be embarrassed even if she was in diapers during the day! She's confident & goofy & doesn't see anything about her beautiful unique self something to apologize for."
And then, because she's Kristen Bell, a goddamn Disney princess, she concluded the exchange by praising the detractor as a "sensitive and vocal confident woman," tagging an "Xoxo all love" on the end.
So, yeah, we'd like to mark the actress-singer-host-Enterprise aficionado's 40th birthday today with a bit of appreciation.
Because between the Disney movie sing-alongs with Jimmy Fallon, her obsession with Dateline's Keith Morrison and the enviable marriage that she wholeheartedly appreciates while never once pretending it's perfect, she's just the type of person you want good things for.
Particularly when the Hollywood Walk of Fame recipient is so damn thankful for every bounty that she receives. "You know what? I'm just really forkin' grateful. I really am. I mean, there's no other way to say it," she told E! News last year while reflecting on her steady, Golden Globe-nominated People's Choice Award-winning career. "I don't know why people let me do the things I do, I'm just so happy to be here."
You see this right here? It's our over-the-moon face. Allow us to list just a few of the reasons we stan the imminently likable Hollywood star.
She hasn't forgotten where she came from.
While some actors fear getting typecast so much, they can't put enough distance between themselves and their most well-known part, Bell has embraced the work her fans truly love. With Veronica Mars, it was a no-brainer. The role was a favorite of hers as well, so once she realized demand was there, she was down to recreate the magic, not once, but twice, the latest incarnation coming to Hulu last summer.
"I feel very lucky," she told E! News. "I don't think it happens all too often that you get to be deeply respectful to the things that started you like I have gotten to be towards Veronica Mars. Coming back and doing it felt so lovely because I have a profound amount of respect for that show, that character, that creator, those producers, they helped me. Coming back to do it again wasn't just exciting as an actor, it was a way to say thank you."
But she also hasn't tired of other previous gigs, returning for more Frozen and another round as Gossip Girl's narrator. Because, why not, she reasoned to E! News? "I know the show was so much fun to do the first time around, I was like, 'Heck yes, I'll be on board.'"
The term relationship goals was invented for people like her and Dax.
Hard to say when it began, really, but we're going to guess filming their own take on Toto's "Africa" music video really solidified the pair as the couple you'd most like to emulate. Because who wouldn't want a relationship filled with so much laughter and so little ego?
With their quick-witted back-and-forth and constant praise of each other's work (Shepard has said he can hardly handle watching his wife sing live because he's so proud), they're a modern day rom-com, complete with relatable moments aplenty.
And basically every time the pair—together for 13 years, wed for nearly seven because they waited until marriage was a legal option for all of their friends—share a new tidbit about their partnership we're hit with a sensation that's equal parts jealousy and gratefulness that a relationship like this exists out in the universe.
Take the moment Bell realized there might be something there after an entirely meh first meeting at a friend's birthday dinner. Running into each other at a Detroit Red Wings game (both proud Michiganders, they're fans of the 11-time Stanley Cup winner), Shepard asked her if she had any gum. When she responded by removing the piece she'd been chewing, he took it, tore it in half and threw one side in his mouth. "I was like, "Oh, those signals are clear!'" she recalled to Parade in 2019.
Or when Shepard shared the grandest gesture he'd ever made in the name of romance. Bell was booked to film a movie in Alaska, but his Parenthood commitments prevented him from tagging along. "Then my schedule changed and I didn't tell her, so I got the seat next to her on the airplane and then I sweet-talked the gate representative to let me on the plane early. So when she went to sit down, I was in her seat reading a newspaper and she kept going, 'Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir. I think you're in my seat,'" he told People in 2017. "And then she noticed those hands look familiar and then she started bawling."
But they're not the type to put their relationship on a pedestal.
That doesn't mean they don't take their decade-plus romance seriously. Because they absolutely do. But they're not about to allow themselves to feel the pressure of keeping love alive for millions of fans. Nor are they feeding into the idea that theirs is a perfect union. They've admitted to booking therapy sessions when necessary and generally putting in the work it takes to coexist with another human.
Sometimes that means they're locked in a bitter battle of wills over motorcycle helmets or sharing a somewhat cringe-inducing peek at how they deal with their opposites attract vibe. Because when Shepard had his bride on his must-listen podcast Armchair Expert in 2018, he thought it'd be an easy day on the job. Instead, as he admitted on Conan, "It was a disaster right out of the gate," with an impatient Bell eager to wrap things up on get her craft on.
"I thought I was a little controlling, but it was vomitous how controlling I was," he allowed. "And I really thought I should hide this from the public and then I later thought, no, this is the whole thing. Sometimes we're in Samsung commercials canoodling at Christmas time, and sometimes we're screaming at each other about Michaels. That's just how it is."
But they're committed to their warts and all situation for the long haul. "I highly doubt we will ever break up because we're just in too deep and I like him too much," she told E! News in 2018. "Even when he's annoying I really like him. I'm still like, 'I still want to be on the porch with you when I'm 80, but I really need you to get out of my face right now,' and we have a good, healthy back-and-forth about that."
Their house is undoubtedly the fun one.
Considering Shepard described an enjoyable Sunday as one in which they play board games and daughters Lincoln and Delta "destroy the house," we're going to guess their L.A.-area spread is quite the destination.
"They leave stuff everywhere! It's like they booby-trap the house and sometimes they actually do booby-trap the house," Bell told Parade, adding it's not uncommon to find gum taped to a chair. "Our oldest builds forts and a good half the week all the couch cushions are off. No one can sit on the couch and the only thing that's exposed are crumbs!"
That's not to say there aren't rules. The spouses freely admit to cursing around their kids, but enforcing a do as we say, not as we do policy. "The way we explain it is, 'Look, you're five years old. You can't drive my car. You can't vote. You can't drink alcohol. You can't swear," she told E! News in 2018. "So far they've obliged."
She has this to say about her healthy diet.
A longtime vegetarian, she embraces both carbs ("My favorite food, though, is croutons. Any and all croutons. I don't discriminate," she told Shape in 2017) and dairy. When requesting a spinach-and-feta egg white omelet on set, "I tell the caterer, 'Once you've added so much feta that you think, 'Oh no, I've added too much feta,' double that.'" Our type of girl.
You'll never catch her acting too cool.
That means she's down to dress as Tom Selleck, mustache, chest hair and all, for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (In which she performed a Frozen-Metallica mashup that's a must-listen.) Or mark her 39th birthday by sharing the fact that her daughters think she's actually a octogenarian.
And she's fine to admit that her daughters are thoroughly unimpressed with her and Shepard to the point that they've started a one-sided competition with the Jonas Brothers. "They're very big in our house," she explained of the boy banders on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last November. "We're always trying to tell our kids, 'Look, we're very cool. You don't think that right now, but let me just tell you something—we're really cool,' and they're like, 'No.'"
As such, they've made it a point to claim moral victories over the siblings. "My husband…makes good pancakes or [when he] lifts something heavy, he'll always look at them and go, 'Ooh the Jonas Brothers wish they could be me,'" she continued. Now it's grown into a family affair. "My littlest—she was on the swing and she jumped off at the height of the swing and she landed on the ground and we thought that she was going to cry," Bell shared, "and she turned around and looked at us and she goes, 'the Jonas Brothers wish they could be me.'"
Nor is she about to put on airs.
Opening up about the depression she's managed since she was 18 was an intensely personal decision, but one the actress felt was entirely necessary. "I realized that this is the shame that prevents people from talking about it," she explained to Women's Health. "I immediately felt irresponsible, because I do care about depression not being taboo, yet I present this bubbly, outgoing girl who seemingly gets through life with a smile on her face, and I'd never discussed that some days, I don't."
On those days, she shared with the mag, "You just have to do the next right thing. You just stand up. That's the next right thing. Then you brush your teeth. That's the next right thing. I'm very one-step-at-a-time."
She's just a legitimately good person.
It's one thing to write checks to charities and turn up to shill for good causes, which of course she does, volunteering her time with P.A.T.H. (People Assisting The Homeless) and other organizations. It's another to help relative strangers simply because it's the right thing to do.
When she discovered the family of Frozen costar Josh Gad was stranded in Florida (where she was filming her comedy, Like Father), "she got them a hotel room at her hotel in Orlando and saved them, my brothers, my sister-in-law and niece and nephew," he shared on social media. "They don't make them like this girl. Thank you Kristin. You are truly an angel sent from above."
Remember that time she cried over a sloth?
Yeah, us too. There's really not much more to say here than that it was one of the most heartwarming clips we've ever seen. Not only did it make us like Bell more (and leave us feeling a bit teary eyed ourselves), it gave us a new affinity for sloths.
And she can make us laugh just as easily.
There's a reason Veronica Mars' retorts came off Bell's lips so easily. IRL, she's every bit as witty as the characters she brings to life on camera. Take just this one example from a 2017 Reddit AMA. When a particularly devoted fan asked if she and Shepard would adopt them, she answered back, "Are you good at chores? Do you like waking up early with your new siblings so we can sleep? Do you play Catan? These are all requirements."
Uh, if that's the case, sign us up.
(Originally published Nov. 19, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)