Dax Shepard Reveals How His Childhood Dyslexia Inspired His Acting Career

Dax Shepard‘s acting career was born out of a fight-or-flight moment. 

The 44-year-old actor stars alongside Lake Bell on ABC’s new comedy, Bless This Mess, but as he told reporters at the network’s Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, he’s been working on his comedic chops since childhood. 

“Not to bring the room down, but I had dyslexia very bad as a child, and I got taken to the special-ed room every day, which was very humiliating,” he recalled. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to have to get to the joke before you get to the joke. My pride demands it.’ And I think that’s where this probably comes from.” 

“[I got in trouble for being funny] all the time. I was on a thing in junior high called final notice, but then they switched it to double final notice,” he continued, adding that the next final notice meant business. “‘Once he gets triple final notice, he’s out! Gotta get rid of him!'”

“I made a lot of amends to a lot of teachers. I needed too much attention and I was insecure, but now I’m on a TV show, so it worked out,” he cracked. 

On Bless This Mess, created/executive produced by Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether, Shepard plays a man who moves with his wife from New York City to rural Nebraska for a fixer-upper farmhouse and a change of pace, but quickly realize it’s not what they expected. 

For Shepard, the hardest part of the gig was having to act like he didn’t know his way around a renovation. “It was a blow to my ego to not be able to wield a hammer like a pro in this,” he joked. His chemistry with Bell came easy. 

“I would say yeah [our comedy was easy to match],” he said of Bell, as they called each other “creative soulmates.” 

“I think the concept that we were excited about in this show is this incredible zeitgeist and love and wonder of the simpler life and what that is. I’m from New York, and I absolutely, unabashedly have this dream to move to a farm,” the actress continued of what inspired Bless This Mess. “[Nebraska] is so different from New York, and I think it really satiates that craving of just land, and the dream is, the romance is owning your own piece of dirt.”

“No one’s going to say it, but the State of Nebraska Tourism Department gave us $27,000,” Shepard hilariously chimed in. “They paid for the whole first season.” 

Bless This Mess premieres April 16 on ABC. See more on Shepard in the video below. 

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