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Shepard, Bell do a film-production tango for 'Hit and Run'
Updated 8/21/2012 7:55 PM ET
BEVERLY HILLS — Allergic to PDA? Beware of engaged couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.

The pair, who become a couple-in-crime in Hit and Run (in theaters Wednesday), in real life cuddle publicly, tweet gushily and, above all, aren't apologizing for it.

"If you don't like it, look away," Bell, 32, says with a grin, poolside at the Four Seasons. "We used to say we were tamarins, because tamarins sit in the tree, like this." Bell and Shepard, together five years now, wrap their arms around each other like monkeys and gaze into each other's eyes.

REVIEW: 'Hit and Run' fires on all cylinders

But after moving mountains to bring Hit and Run to life, maybe these two have earned a free pass.

"This is quite literally our movie," says Shepard, 37, who wrote, co-directs and stars. "We made this movie in our home, and Kristen produced and I directed. Our friends are in it, my mom did craft service, and my little sister acts in it."

The brash comedy follows Charlie Bronson (Shepard), a former getaway driver who busts out of witness protection when his oblivious girlfriend, Annie Bean (Bell), a non-violence specialist, gets a job offer in L.A. Charlie insists on driving her, leaving a trail wide open for his criminal friends (led by a blond dreadlocked Bradley Cooper) to track him down.

A car fanatic, Shepard stocks his film full of car chases, plus a few racial slurs and romantic interludes with Bell. The film doesn't fit neatly into an action or rom-com box. "It's the first project we've both ever been a part of that has been utterly and completely our creative choice," Bell says.

"I don't know that a studio would have even risked having a real-life known couple be the two leads," adds Shepard, who painstakingly plotted camera angles, sweated over music choices and paid Hit & Run's stars, such as pals Cooper and Parenthood's Joy Bryant, with pieces of ownership of the film.

Deeply personal, the film borrows heavily from the first year of his and Bell's relationship.

"She's tiny, and I'm too big," Shepard says. "And she has a bit of a goody-goody background and, I have a bit of scumbaggy background."

"Not scumbaggy," Bell interjects, referencing his past of drug and alcohol addiction prior to their relationship. "Just a lot more — experimental, maybe?"

The two have long stated that they'll marry when gay marriage becomes legal in California. When that day comes, you may blink and miss it.

"We're not having a wedding," Shepard says.

"I don't want another day where I get dressed up and wear makeup and celebrate myself," Bell explains. "We really don't want any attention for it."

"I mean, I can't wait for those tax benefits," Shepard cracks. Kids are another matter: "We'll have kids for sure," he says.

But first, there's work to do. Shepard returns to NBC's Parenthood this fall (he'll take on directing duties for the 12th episode), and Bell, who recently wrapped production on indie film The Lifeguard, returns to shooting Showtime's House of Lies in October.

Shepard has more raucous adventures in store. His next film trades car chases for a plot "vaguely based on my last week of drinking and doing drugs in Hawaii and all the mischief that ensued," he says. Bell will star in this one, too, as "a hotshot gold digger."

Posted 8/21/2012 7:26 PM ET
Updated 8/21/2012 7:55 PM ET
Partnered up on-screen and off: Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, who have been together for five years, star as a couple in 'Hit and Run,' which he also wrote and co-directed.
By Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY
Partnered up on-screen and off: Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, who have been together for five years, star as a couple in 'Hit and Run,' which he also wrote and co-directed.

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