It’s hard to believe but Dax Shepard actually dated someone before Kristen Bell. Yes, there were indeed other women prior to his soulmate/wife/mother of his kids, and one of those women was Kate Hudson. In fact, she was Dax’s girlfriend right before he moved on with Kristen and, well, maybe we can thank Kate for giving us one of Hollywood’s most adorable couples because had she stuck around, they might not have come to be.
Kate and her brother, Oliver Hudson, were guests on the most recent episode of Dax’s Armchair Expert podcast and because the siblings have been friends with Shepard for so long, it made for an entertaining 90 minutes. Dax and Kate’s short-lived relationship was brought up, and while they never revealed who broke up with whom, they all agreed that it was a simple case of parting of ways because as Kate said, they were in “different places” in their lives.
Shepard, in his estimation, was going through a rough time professionally while Kate was, he recalled “making the most you ever made and having the most opportunity and I felt very much like, ‘F**k, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m following this person around as they do things I wish I were doing.’ It was just a rough period for me anyways. And then I felt all kind of inadequacy in that position.”
Kate added a bit more perspective: “You also said that you really wanted a ‘we’ in your life and that you felt that it was just about me.” Hudson was already a mother—she shares son Ryder with ex-husband Chris Robinson—and had “money-making opportunities” that Dax could see she of course needed to take. Kate capped it off simply: “It was timing.”
It started as a joke
Everyone agreed that their personalities were “super-compatible,” which they evidently still are if the palpable energy heard in the episode is any indication. Dax even broke down the timeline of their relationship, which, it turns out, “started as a joke.” Shepard revealed that he and Oliver first met at Tobey Maguire’s house (naturally) and quickly bonded. During one of their infamous poker nights, Kate stopped by, marking her first encounter with Dax. Hudson, who was married to Robinson at the time, invited Shepard and his then-girlfriend, Briegh Morrison, to a party and while there was some “flirtiness” going on, nothing happened. But a year or two later (Dax believed it was one; Kate thought two had gone by), the two reconnected at a restaurant and decided to prank the paparazzi (punk’d you might even say) outside by pretending to be a couple. But something clicked and they worked—for a few months, that is.
It should be noted that it was Shepard’s first time being monogamous in 15 years as his past relationships had always been open ones. But for Hudson, that was never going to happen. They were a passionate pair, and fought a lot, but it allowed for Dax to grow and be more expressive about his feelings than ever before.
“I wasn’t giving Dax what he needed and I was making choices that were not relationship-focused,” Hudson admitted. “It was a lot, fast. I was not ready. I was out of a relationship that was really hard-core (FYI, while his name was never mentioned, the ex in question is likely Owen Wilson). Then Dax and I, it was so much fun, and then it just got hot, fast. It got connective. I wasn’t prepared. I was making a movie, I had Ryder.”
Conversely, Shepard—who was 32 at the time while Hudson was 28—was ready for more. “Whoever I date next has to be the one,” he remembered. “I want to spend three years with somebody to know that I’m going to have kids, and then I want to have kids, so I was definitely in a different place.”
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Kate called her time with Dax as “the first healthy relationship” she had ever had—though she did make sure to add that while Chris was a love of her life and they shared something cosmic, it was also unhealthy. But while Shepard was creating healthy patterns in his life, Hudson was going down a different path and was pretty much already checked out before they had even split. Shortly after they went their separate ways, Dax met Kristen. And we all know how that went—they married in 2013 and share daughters Lincoln, 6, and Delta, 4.
Hudson, meanwhile, moved on with musician Matt Bellamy, and they welcomed son Bingham in 2011. They were engaged but split in 2014. She has since moved on with Danny Fujikawa, and the two share daughter Rani Rose, who was born a year ago.
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Baby on board
As for Dax and Oliver’s friendship, they’re still going strong — and make no mistake, Kate and Dax are all good too. But perhaps what was most surprising for Oliver was seeing Dax in the delivery room during the birth of his first baby with wife Erinn Bartlett.
Because Erinn went into labour three weeks early, the only family member in town was Kate. “From my perspective, Kate’s the only one to call,” Oliver recalled, and after arriving at the hospital, he was more than a little confused to see Kate and Dax.
But despite the awkwardness, Oliver called it “amazing” and “one of the greatest experiences ever,” adding, for good measure, that “Dax was in the room the whole time, we had video cameras, he was all over Wilder’s birth.” Including the post-delivery process, which Dax recalled in vivid detail.
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My boy is 12 today.. my first born.. What a special human he is and how lucky I am that he chose me to be his Dad.. And he’s so badass on his mountain bike that it brings up anger that I have to suppress while trying to keep up with him as he’s flies 15 feet in the air and then says “why are you so slow and scared Dad?” and then I say “Don’t you EVER talk to a pro like that!! EVER!!!!” and then he says “Whatever dad.. Lemme know when you take off your training wheels..” And then he rides off and I watch his silhouette rise and fall in the dipping sun and I smile.. my baby, my first.. my man Wilder..
“As funny as it was, it was really an amazingly fun experience for us and it changed the whole dynamic,” said Oliver. “It’s our first kid, there’s nerves all around that, especially for Erinn, and Dax is there to provide this comic relief and it’s just this really fun, crazy time.”
There’s more than just fondness between these exes and friends. For Shepard and the Hudsons, they’re family. For life.