The real-life husband and wife play a fictional married couple in “Chips,” an updated big-screen version of the classic 1970s TV show about the California Highway Patrol.
But the fictional and real-world relationships couldn’t be more different.
“It was hard to be mean to him because my character is like his estranged, trophy wife. She’s over him because he’s not winning trophies anymore,” Bell said on “Good Morning America” of playing Shepard’s wife, Karen, in the movie. “And so I have to be really, really mean to him, and it was difficult because I do really … he’s so endearing, and I like him so much.”
To let her character's angry, passive-aggressive attitude come through over Bell's actual deep love for her husband, the actress channeled memories of when she was iritated in her marriage.
“From an actor’s perspective I was like, ‘Hmm, I’ll take the 15 times he’s really annoyed me in our last 10 years of marriage and I’ll put those all into a Coke bottle, pop a Mentos in there, shake it up and then that volcano will be Karen,” she said with a laugh.
Bell, 36, even had to convince Shepard, who also directed, produced and wrote the film, to let her play the mean-wife role.
“I did not want her to play the role because my wife in the movie is a terrible human being, and my wife is such a wonderful [one],” Shepard, 42, explained on “GMA” Wednesday. “So she plays a real jerk and I didn’t think of her naturally, but she read it and thought it was funny so she wanted to do it. And she’s the boss, so she did it.”
The actress and comedian said despite playing a cruel character, she loved working opposite her husband.
“I married him because I like spending time with him and I trust him so, duh, that’s what I want at work,” Bell said.
"Chips" is in theaters today.