Dax Shepard is always one to speak his mind — which has occasionally landed him in hot water.
The “Armchair Expert” podcast host made headlines in September 2023 when he got into a heated discussion with Jonathan Van Ness about gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Van Ness, who is nonbinary and uses all pronouns, broke down in tears after Shepard — who ultimately apologized — repeatedly grilled him about the idea.
Shepard’s tense moment with Van Ness is far from his only controversial commentary. In 2021, the Parenthood alum and wife Kristen Bell started a Hollywood-wide debate when they revealed on The View that they could go “five or six days” without bathing their young daughters. Their own candid confession came after Shepard had Mila Kunis on “Armchair Expert,” during which she revealed she and husband Ashton Kutcher only bathe their kids when “you can see the dirt on them.”
Keep scrolling for Shepard’s ups and downs through the years:
Married Kristen Bell
Shepard tied the knot with Bell in 2011. In 2017, the Good Place alum exclusively opened up to Us Weekly about the pair’s marriage, explaining that she doesn’t think “people realize” just how much “work” goes into their relationship — but it all pays off.
“It is not easy to work around another human being, but if you commit to it, you can pretty much permanently respect that person, but then it doesn’t really matter if you disagree because you still respect that person,” she explained. “But on a daily basis, he just makes me laugh all the time. He’s obsessed with attention, so he’s constantly making jokes to try to get me to give him more attention or to get me to giggle. And you know, he was a stand-up comedian, so I’m living with a comedian.”
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Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast — which he cohosts with Monica Padman — proudly “celebrates the messiness of being human,” the show’s logline reads. After years of working as a comedian and actor, Shepard launched “Armchair Expert” in 2018. The critically-acclaimed pod has been nominated for numerous awards and has featured a wealth of A-list guests over the years, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Bill Gates to Hillary Clinton.
Shepard may have starred on the hit dramedy from 2010 to 2015, but he didn’t become a father himself until the 2013 birth of his and Bell’s firstborn daughter Lincoln. The couple welcomed daughter Delta two years later.
“When I have failures in life, I get to come home and still be dad,” Shepard gushed during a SXSW panel in March 2023. “It is the most transformative experience. You can feel it’s why you are here.”
He added: “Nothing compares to being a dad. It is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Shepard and Bell may be A-list parents, but they found themselves fielding criticism when revealing they’ve found themselves only bathing their daughters roughly once a week sometimes.
“By George, we had to start saying, ‘Hey, when’s the last time you bathed them?’” Shepard recalled on The View in 2020, noting that they have gone “five or six days” without washing their daughters before.
“Once you catch a whiff, that’s biology’s way of letting you know you need to clean it up,” Bell quipped. “There’s a red flag, because honestly, it’s just bacteria. And once you get the bacteria, you gotta be like, ‘Get in the tub or the shower.’”
Addiction and Relapse
Shepard has long been candid about being an addict — and bravely came forward to speak about his relapse in 2020.
Shepard had moments of relapsing throughout his 16 years of sobriety, he explained on “Armchair Expert” at the time. He had “cycles” of taking too much prescription medication following a 2012 motorcycle accident, but it wasn’t until he found himself high at his 16-year sober celebration that he released he needed to admit he was struggling.
“I’ve had a lot of friends that I’ve watched go through this whole cycle, and I finally have the humility to say I will not be any different,” he said. “I won’t be special. I won’t be smarter. I will be exactly like everyone else.”
Jonathan Van Ness Drama
Shepard and Van Ness’ September 2023 “Armchair Expert” conversation about gender-affirming care quickly turned south once Shepard gave credence to those who oppose it.
“Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning. How do we know that the person’s not gonna change their mind? Then there’s another counterargument. If they kill themselves, then that’s really f–king permanent. … To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward,” he said.
Van Ness held nothing back in his response.
“I’m a nonbinary f–king trans person. When I talk to my dad or people who say similar things, it’s hard to be cool through that,” he said. “I’m not calling you a transphobe. You can not be transphobic and still have thoughts that espouse trans misogyny and espouse transphobic ideologies or beliefs and not be transphobic.”
Shepard apologized, but the conversation already left its mark on Van Ness, who cried “because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included,” he explained. “I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women’s fairness in sports. I have to tell you I am very tired.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).