Dax Shepard Talks About Finding Your Identity in College, & The Possibility of a 'Parenthood' Revival

Parenthood fans know him best as the irresponsible-yet-lovable Crosby Braverman on the NBC drama, while Disney fans know him as the husband of Kristen Bell, who voices Anna in Frozen. Dax Shepard is a comedian, actor, writer and director from Michigan who attended college at UCLA before getting into The Groundlings, a sketch comedy organization in Los Angeles. He recently portrayed Deputy Billy Calhoun in El Camino Christmas, and he's also writing and directing the next Scooby Doo movie. Dax chatted with Her Campus about his relationship advice for college students, his admiration of Justin Hartley and how the cast would be down for a Parenthood revival. 

Her Campus: One of your upcoming projects is El Camino Christmas. What drew you to that film? 

Dax Shepard: The reason I find the movie so interesting is there's been this whole strata of movies that stopped getting made, I don't know eight years ago, as the film business has shifted into tent pole movies. So there's this great section of movies that I loved growing up—these kind of more quirky drama comedies like Cohen brother-esque movies—that just really don't get made. So now Netflix is this place you can make all these movies, and so El Camino Christmas tapped into that. It's a Christmas movie, but it's also a shoot 'em up at a liquor store movie. And it has a really eclectic cast and kind of a quirky town, so it's a neat opportunity that there's a place now to do those movies again. 

HC: What was it like playing a deputy?

DS: Well, you know this was back-to-back cops for me. So, the way I delineated the difference between Jon Baker [in CHIPS] and this guy was I grew a mustache. Hardly recognizable. 

HC: You've worked both in comedy and in film. What drew you to those passions? 

DS: Well, I got to LA in 1995 on my 20th birthday, and I knew very little about how any of that stuff worked, but I knew that many of the Saturday Night Live cast had come from The Groundlings Theatre in Hollywood. So I auditioned to get into there and went through their program, which there's many levels, it takes years to do, and through that process, they force you to develop characters but then you also write a lot of sketches. So you really strengthen your writing, and then at that time that I was going through there was the first time that video production on a consumer level was possible. So I started making lots of videos that would play at the theater. I was shooting things and editing them, and so I was really learning to actor, write and direct all at the exact same time. When I left there, I still very much had a passion for all three of those things, and I've worked as much as a writer as I have an actor. And then in the last five years, I've been directing a lot, and I love that probably the most of those three things. 

HC: What do you love the most about directing? 

DS: When you're directing, you make a game plan with a lot of talented people, and then you arrive on set and you learn very quickly that for any number of reasons that game plan is not going to happen. And so you're forced to solve a ton of problems in real time. And I think I'm just someone who is really drawn to problem solving as a hobby. I love trying—I love when I'm working on something on my car and I realize I don't have that part or that screw or that bolt, and I'm going to have to figure out another option. To me, that's like the highlight of working on stuff is when you have to make a different solution than you had originally thought of. 

HC: What's your advice for college students who want to get into writing, acting or directing? 

DS: I think the main thing I've come to realize is it's not a career path for people who are waiting for their phone to ring. So if you have any one of those interests, it is incumbent upon you to write your down stuff, shoot your own stuff, act in your own stuff. You have to do it by yourself. You won't get a magic agent or meet an executive and become friends. With very few exceptions, surely some people hit the lottery somehow—but in general, there will not be a single person that will hand you any of these things. You will have to do it yourself. 

HC: Speaking of advice, you recently gave some relationship advice on Ellen. Do you have any college-specific relationship advice? 

DS: Wow, well you know my whole time in college, I was with the girl that I ended up being with for nine years, so you know it's an interesting question. I don't really know what the best advice is. I really like that I waited late to get married and have kids, but I can't speak for everyone on that. I just know that I'm glad that I did all of the regrettable crazy things I did in my twenties, because that's surely the time to do them. There's plenty of time to be grown up and share a mortgage. I think a lot of young people are looking to be in a relationship to kind of cement their own identity, and I just think it's a time to really be cementing your own identity on your own that's not defined by another person. 

HC: Now your wife Kristen Bell also has a Christmas movie out with A Bad Moms Christmas. What do you most love about her movie? 

DS: To be totally honest, I think I most love Justin Hartley in it. Of course, my wife's my favorite of the girls, but I just thought he was really a breath of fresh air. He made just some of the weirdest, counterintuitive choices as an actor that really cracked me up. And my god, he's gorgeous. What an easy fella to look at. 

HC: And of course, it's the holiday season and you've teamed up with Charmin to debut their restrooms in Times Square for holiday shoppers. Why were you interested in that partnership? 

DS: It was a very, very easy partnership to say yes to because I myself have been a victim of just a terrible lack of restrooms in Manhattan, and it's such a fun place to come at Christmastime and to walk around and look at the views and the window decorations. And basically if you're traveling here with little kids, which we do often, I challenge you to find a bathroom in Manhattan the doesn't require a hazmat suit. Because your little kids are just so drawn to porcelain; they just want to touch everything in these bathrooms and if you can even find one, odds are it's group zero for every airborne pathogen in the city. So these are actually brick and mortar; they built 14 themed restrooms. And it is a mini sanctuary from shopping. In fact, if you're a dude like me, and you can't stand shopping, you just should go hide in there for like an hour while your family shops. There's a disco tech one. There's an Everest one. There's under the sea. They're inspiring. I would not rule out myself building a disco tech bathroom now after having experienced that. 

HC: What are your own plans for the holidays? 

DS: I will go home to LA and then we will road trip to Oregon to see my mom and brother for Christmas. 

HC: And finally, is there any chance of a Parenthood reunion or revival? 

DS: Well no one's called me about it, but I do know that, because I'm still friends with everyone on Parenthood, that every one of us would say yes. So if they ever tried to put that together, I don't think it would be difficult.