Lake Bell, co-creator and star of the new ABC sitcom Bless This Mess, on going all in with tattoos, the joy of driving in New York City, and why she loves her therapist.
In Bless This Mess, you and Dax Shepard play newlywed yuppies who trade New York City for a farm in Nebraska. Where’d that idea come from?
I live in L.A. and grew up in Manhattan, and I liked the idea of taking people with a coastal, somewhat annoying New Age lifestyle and depositing them into a wholesome, Midwestern small town. It’s in the zeitgeist now, where people—at least the ones I follow on Instagram—are like Brooklynites who move to a goat farm.
Why do you think that’s a thing now?
It’s a sign of our times. We are so plugged in, everything’s so at our fingertips, but we’ve forgotten how to actually use our fingers, our hands, to do anything.
Do you ever dream of moving to a farm?
My husband is from Texas and Louisiana, and we always say, “What if we just bought a piece of land?” With the state of the world being very tumultuous, we fantasize about moving to a ranch or something to get away from the kinetic, discombobulated existence that we’re all living as we read the news.
Your character, Rio, is a therapist. Are you a believer in therapy?
I am a deep lover of therapy. It’s the best place to excavate the human condition. To have a room where you can be neutral and without judgment is truly helpful. I don’t think I’d be married if it wasn’t for therapy.
On the other hand, Rio doesn’t seem particularly well-adjusted.
I think that it’s totally fair for therapists to have their own issues and neuroses, because they’re inherently cerebral people. You don’t want a chef who doesn’t like to eat, you know?
Your husband, Scott Campbell, is a tattoo artist. Do you have any ink?
I didn’t forever. But after we had our second kid, I realized the idea about the purity of my skin was sort of vain, and that I wanted a very visible, forever stamp of my children’s names. So he designed it and did their names on my shoulders: Nova and Ozzi. He was like, “No pressure at all! You have no tattoos and are the one client I have to see every hour of every day.”
i knew that if i was going to get married, somebody would have to throw me over his shoulder. And he did.
And he has a tattoo of your name, too?
Yes, which he got nine days into dating.
No! Nine days?
I was like, “Are you out of your mind?” We were in a long-distance relationship, and nine days into dating, he flew in and didn’t mention it. Honestly, he has so many tattoos that initially I didn’t notice it. He got huge Old English letters, L-A-K-E, down the side of his body with a rose going through it.
Didn’t that freak you out?
I was already pretty gung ho about him. We were already like, “So, we’re doing life together,” even though I didn’t believe in marriage at the time.
What changed your mind?
I knew that if I was going to get married, somebody would have to throw me over their shoulder and be like, “We’re getting married.” And he did. His whole thing is that it’s far more brave and badass to jump into loving someone, versus bailing when it’s not easy.
So how’s married life?
In a committed relationship where you’re all in, you have to be like, “I’m not going to peel off and just bail when you call me out on something. I’m going to take it in, digest it, be angry, pissed off, and get through it.” It’s our privilege as humans to evolve.
You once had a gig reviewing cars for The Hollywood Reporter. How’d that happen?
My father owned race car tracks, so I grew up around the New Jersey Motorsport Park and the Virginia International Raceway. He also collected American muscle cars—I learned to drive on a King of the Road 500 Shelby Cobra.
Do you like to drive fast?
The need for speed isn’t my game. I love city driving—I call it Tetris–weaving—and the more active dance of driving. I appreciate the way different cars handle, the different sounds. I drive an electric car now, which is an interesting experience versus cars that I grew up on with a ton of throaty rev.
You mentioned your kids’ names—Nova and Ozzi. Did growing up with a unique name affect how you chose theirs?
We’ve actually met a few other Novas in L.A. These days, it’d probably be more unique to name your kid Jennifer.
You’ve been open about smoking pot. Do you use it for writing, or more for relaxing?
My husband started a luxury cannabis brand called Beboe Cannabis. It’s a wellness treatment for me now. As a parent and someone who wears a lot of hats, it’s integral to my well-being. Cannabis allows my body and mind to have a respite in taking on everything at once. It’s like an internal meditation.