Christina Applegate Says She Can No Longer Do This After MS Diagnosis in New Interview
The actor spoke on her difficulties while filming the final season of Dead to Me.
Christina Applegate is a mainstay in television, movies, and the theater. She's starred on TV as Kelly Bundy on Married… with Children, stood out in iconic comedies like 2002's The Sweetest Thing and 2004's Anchorman, and debuted on Broadway as Charity in the 2005 revival of Sweet Charity. She even landed an Emmy for playing Rachel's bratty sister Amy Green on Friends. Most recently, you've probably seen Applegate holding a large glass of wine in the dramedy Dead to Me on Netflix. The final season is set to drop on the streaming platform on Nov. 17, which was delayed after Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2021. In a new interview, the actor gave an update on her condition and shared some of her current limitations. Read on to find out what Applegate says she can no longer do since receiving her diagnosis.
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Applegate noticed the first symptoms of MS years ago.
In a new interview with The New York Times, Applegate discussed her diagnosis, adding that she first realized something was amiss when filming Season 1 of Dead to Me, which premiered in 2019. First, it was a loss of balance, then difficulties playing tennis, which she initially brushed off.
"I wish I had paid attention," she told the newspaper. "But who was I to know?"
MS is a chronic disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, affecting the central nervous system and altering messages that are sent to the brain. The condition presents itself differently from patient to patent, ranging from mild symptoms to inability to write, speak, and walk. For Applegate, additional symptoms arrived in the form of tingling and numbness, which then worsened, The New York Times reported. Filming for Dead to Me was paused while she sought treatment.
"There was the sense of, 'Well, let's get her some medicine so she can get better, and there is no better," Applegate said in the interview. "But it was good for me. I needed that time to process my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time."
There were adjustments on set to support her.
When the idea of scrapping the season was on the table, Applegate was staunchly opposed. "I had an obligation to Liz and to Linda, to our story," she said, referring to series creator Liz Feldman and Applegate's co-lead Linda Cardellini. "The powers that be were like, 'Let's just stop. We don't need to finish it. Let's just put a few episodes together.' I said, 'No. We're going to do it, but we're going to do it on my terms."
Filming was adapted to adhere to Applegate's needs, The New York Times reported, even though the actor isn't one to make demands on set.
Strategic blocking was introduced—Applegate would open doors so she could use them to lean on, and there aren't as many shots of her character walking into a room. According to The New York Times, sound technician and friend of Applegate's, Mitch B. Cohn, would hold up her legs out of the camera's view in some scenes. There were also days she was unable to come to set in general, and at other times, heat and general strain from the job led to "her body giving out."
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Applegate shared what she can no longer do thanks to MS.
On top of the debilitating symptoms of MS, the actor noted that there are even more struggles she's dealing with, as well as the abilities that MS has taken away from her. She spoke with the New York Times ahead of the Nov. 17 premiere of Dead to Me, and "wanted to do" the interview, the outlet reported.
"This is the first time anyone's going to see me the way I am," she said. "I put on 40 pounds; I can't walk without a cane. I want people to know that I am very aware of all that."
When it comes to the final season of the show, Applegate said it will be too painful for her to watch, but she isn't as concerned about what other people think. "If people hate it, if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is, 'Ooh, look at the cripple,' that's not up to me," she said, adding that some viewers might not be able to "get past" her situation.
"Fine, don't get past it, then," she said. "But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls."
Cardellini and Applegate's friendship carried them through the last season.
Applegate was brought to set in a wheelchair due to her difficultly navigating stairs in her trailer, and sometimes, she was unable to come to set at all. In a cruel twist of fate, the show's final season was written before Applegate's diagnosis and deals with illness, per The New York Times, which the actor said sometimes "crushed" both her and Cardellini during filming.
Thankfully, Applegate was surrounded by a supportive crew, and Cardellini, specifically, was there for her co-star, with Applegate calling her "my champion, my warrior, my voice."
Cardellini would speak up if Applegate didn't ask for a break, and while shying away from taking too much praise, she said, "I just wanted the best for the person that I love and care about and have the honor to work with."