Christina Applegate is opening up about living with multiple sclerosis, and how finishing her acclaimed show “Dead to Me” was important to her.
The actress, 50, spoke with the New York Times for an article published on Tuesday, ahead of the premiere of the third and final season of her Netflix series later this month. Applegate reflected on what it was like to receive her MS diagnosis over the summer of 2021 during filming. At the time, production shut down for roughly five months as she began treatment for the autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.
“There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better,’” Applegate said. “And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time.”
The performer also noted that after that time, it wasn’t like she “came on the other side of it, like, ‘Woohoo, I’m totally fine.’ Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed.”
She recalled even further back, how she began to experience balance and mobility issues as early as during production on the first season of “Dead to Me,” which premiered in May 2019.
“I wish I had paid attention,” she said. “But who was I to know?”
Over the production pause, Netflix had considered shutting down the show indefinitely in light of her health news. But Applegate felt that she “had an obligation” to both Liz Feldman, the creator of “Dead to Me,” and Linda Cardellini, her friend and costar, as well as the story.
“The powers that be were like, ‘Let’s just stop. We don’t need to finish it. Let’s put a few episodes together.’ I said, ‘No. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it on my terms,’” she said.
And while Applegate said that finishing the series was the hardest thing that she has ever done, the crew and Cardellini, especially, had her back and supported her throughout.
“She was my champion, my warrior, my voice,” Applegate said of Cardellini. “It was like having a mama bear.”
But Cardellini told the Times that she “just wanted the best for the person that I love and care about and have the honor to work with.”
It was in keeping with her feelings on Applegate right from their very first meeting for the show. “I just had the immediate feeling that we were going to have each other’s backs,” Cardellini said. “Jen and Judy [their characters in “Dead to Me”] support each other, love each other, help each other through things. Linda and Christina, the same thing.”
In addition to making sure to finish out the final season, it was also important to Applegate to do publicity for “Dead to Me” ahead of the Season 3 premiere on Netflix on November 17.
“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 of that.”
As for what viewers take away from the final season, the “Samantha Who?” star is hopeful, to a point.
“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. “I’m sure that people are going to be, like, ‘I can’t get past it.’”
“Fine, don’t get past it, then,” she added. “But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls.”