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Christina Applegate Just Opened Up About Being Sexualized on "Married… with Children"

"Looking back on it in hindsight, it’s pretty gross," the former teen star said in a new interview.

In 1987, Christina Applegate came to fame on Married… with Children as Kelly, the ditzy, teenage daughter of the Bundy family. Though the actor was only was 15 when the sitcom premiered, she was sexualized by fans and put into situations that she now feels she had no business being in. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Applegate, now 51, opened up about the experience and how she feels about it today. Read on to see what she had to say.

READ THIS NEXT: Former Child Star Says She "Became a Recluse" After Jokes About Her Body Spread Online.

She knew people were focused on her appearance.

Christina Applegate at the Annual Variety Club Children's Carnival in 1988
Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In her Vanity Fair interview, Applegate was asked about being judged for her appearance over her talent and whether she found it frustrating.

"Yeah, totally. I was never on the receiving end of any kind of lasciviousness from anyone before [Married…with Children] because I was wearing bells around my ankles and moccasins and wearing patchouli," she said. "I was a gross little hippie kid."

She found the reaction to her character "gross."

Christina Applegate on "Married... with Children"

Applegate went on to talk about the kind of fame the show brought her, and how older fans regarded her character.

"Looking back on it in hindsight, it's pretty gross," she continued. "Yeah, that part of it kind of sucked. Men had posters of this little 17-year-old, with me holding pearls. Like, who let me do that? I didn't even know what the connotation was."

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Her connection to Married… with Children cost her roles.

Christina Applegate leaving the China Club in 1991
Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The sitcom was a long-running hit, but Applegate said that playing Kelly cost her other roles. Instead, she was sent "billions" of offers to be typecast as a similar character.

"I never took one of them," she said. "I would audition for stuff and people would be like, 'Oh my god, she gave the best audition of anyone, but it's Christina, and we can't have that name associated with this masterpiece.' That happened more times than you can even imagine."

She separated herself from fans' feelings about Kelly.

Christina Applegate at the 2020 Critics' Choice Awards
Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock

In a 2019 interview with Fresh Air, Applegate was asked how countless teenage boys having crushes on her impacted her self-image while she was on the show.

"It didn't. I'm very—like, I stay in my bubble. I've always stayed in my own bubble," she said. "And the way I operated in the world was very different than Kelly Bundy—the person that I was, the way I dressed, the friends that I had. My interests were the polar opposite of her. So no one came near me. I kind of held myself with, like, a get-the-F-away-from-me kind of vibe all the time. (Laughter) So I kind of just lived my life."

She had some control over her character.

Christina Applegate at her Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony in 2022
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Applegate had a say in who Kelly was and helped shape her into the character she wanted her to be. Of course, she just didn't have control over how people reacted to Kelly or how they would sexualize her as a person outside of the show. (The sexualization of Kelly on the show also became more blatant as the series went on.)

"[O]riginally, Kelly was kind of, like, a tough, little rebellious, almost, like, biker kind of chick," Applegate told Fresh Air. The actor was inspired to develop her into something else after watching a documentary about heavy metal fans, she explained.

"[I]t kind of evolved, or devolved, if you want to call it that, after I had seen this girl in this documentary," she said. "And I went, oh, my God, I need to—that's it. That's her. So we kind of changed her up to be sort of a product of the '80s, of this generation of girls that felt they needed to use their bodies to get further in the world, and the music was heavy metal…"

She also said that she had "secrets" about Kelly. "I had to play her as a genius," Applegate said. "You know, in her own mind, she's a genius—and a virgin, actually. So those are my little secrets that I had about her."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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