New ABC comedy lets actress also write, produce and direct
Known for acting in such movies as “It’s Complicated” and “Home Again,” Lake Bell has wanted a greater creative hand in her projects.
She has that with “Bless This Mess,” an ABC comedy premiering Tuesday, April 16. A creator and executive producer of the show along with Elizabeth Meriwether (“New Girl,” “Single Parents”), Bell also directed the debut episode teaming her and Dax Shepard (“Parenthood”) as newlyweds who leave New York for Nebraska – where the challenges are more than they anticipated. Ed Begley Jr. and action-movie icon Pam Grier (“Jackie Brown”) are among co-stars.
“The concept that we were excited about in making the show,” Bell explains, “was this incredible zeitgeist and love and wonder of the simpler life, and what that really is. I am from New York, and I absolutely, unabashedly have this dream to move to a farm. It’s so vastly different, and I think it really satiates that craving of land. And the dream, the romance, is of owning your own piece of dirt.”
Shepard also doubles as a star and executive producer of ”Bless This Mess,” and he says he relates to his character having to deal with the fixer-upper he and his wife newly own.
“It was a big blow to my ego to not be able to wield the hammer like a pro in this,” muses Shepard, the husband of “The Good Place’s” Kristen Bell (no relation to Lake). ”The first time I bought a house in L.A., I (had it) renovated right before I moved in. There was a period where they said it would be done, and I had scheduled to move in; of course, it was not done, but I moved in anyway.” Shepard adds that he witnessed a fight between two of the workmen: “That’s a bad remodeling story.”
Also in the voice cast of the recent Oscar winner “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Lake Bell wrote, directed and starred in the comedies “In a World… “ (2013) and “I Do … Until I Don’t” (2017). She reasons that in multitasking similarly on a television series, “You’re utilizing the same muscles. Dax is also a writer, director, and actor, so I feel like there was definitely some camaraderie there.
“As long as we’re all on the same team and it is about creating the same project together and feeling like we’re all tonally on the same page, that makes it a lot easier,” Bell notes. “That said, this was interesting because of working with different companies and having a creative teammate throughout. Liz (Meriwether) and I were friends before we started this; I think that added to it being a truly different but enjoyable experience. So, I wasn’t solely there.”