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June 25, 2023   Jennifer   Interviews

It’s rare to find a televised female friendship that can deal with dead husbands, car crashes and other wild plot twists the way Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini’s “Dead to Me” characters do. Through years of filming the tragicomedy, the two actors learned to deeply trust each other. When Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while filming the last season, their bond only intensified.

In this episode of “The Envelope,” Applegate and Cardellini laugh, sob, describe why they love each other and ponder the possibility of working together again. They also discuss the importance of flawed-mom characters and recall how they were allowed to improvise lines until things got way too weird. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

Yvonne Villarreal: Hello, and welcome to “The Envelope,” where we bring you in-depth conversations with the creative talents behind your favorite shows and movies. I’m one of your hosts, Yvonne Villarreal.

Mark Olsen: And I’m your other host, Mark Olsen. Who did you talk with this week, Yvonne?

Villarreal: Oh, Mark, I’m warning you now, get your tissues ready. I spoke with the two women behind my favorite will they/won’t they get caught friendship: I’m talking about “Dead to Me’s” Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini.

Both women have memorably graced our screens separately. Christina, of course, is known for projects like “Married … With Children,” “The Sweetest Thing” and “Anchorman,” while Linda, of course, has starred in “Freaks and Geeks,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Scooby-Doo.” With Netflix’s dark comedy, they both have been nominated for Emmys for their performances as two women who strike an unlikely friendship.

Christina plays Jen Harding, a recent widow, and Linda plays Judy Hale, the woman who accidentally killed Jen’s husband in a hit-and-run. They meet in group therapy and become fast friends who then navigate the chaotic aftermath in a way only two besties can. The recent third season was the show’s last, and as anyone who watched it can tell you, it was an emotional and hilarious ride to the end — just like my conversation with them.

Olsen: Yvonne, I had no idea that was the actual storyline of that show.

Villarreal: It’s a weird meet-cute for a friendship, but somehow they make it work.

Olsen: I can only imagine. Now, the show itself dives head on into dealing with grief, on top of Christina herself facing an MS [multiple sclerosis] diagnosis while filming this season.

Villarreal: It was very powerful to hear their experiences while filming. “Dead to Me” may be ending, but the BFF era of Christina and Linda remains in full effect with the genuine love and support they give each other, which was very clear in our conversation. So let’s get into it.

Villarreal: It’s been some time since the final season of “Dead to Me” wrapped, and audiences have said goodbye to the story, but how has it been for you to move on from your characters? Linda, why don’t we start with you?

Applegate: Yeah, always start with Linda.

Cardellini: I miss it. I miss her, and it’s really nice to have an opportunity to talk about it. But I miss seeing everybody every day, all our friends. There was something so special about the show and the characters we played and the friendships we had. So I do miss it, but I’m so happy to revisit it with everybody today, really.

Applegate: Yeah, I needed the break, so for me, at first it was a good relief to just breathe and kind of focus on what had just happened. But I miss Linda so much it’s crazy. I don’t even know what to tell you.

Villarreal: I was going to say, does it feel any more different or jarring from finishing other projects?

Applegate: Absolutely. For me, absolutely. She’s like my best friend.

Cardellini: Well, and also I think we had a long time together too. It was like going to school and then having summer break and then getting back to school and seeing, you know, being with everybody again. But we had a beautiful thing. That’s the good news. Like to leave something and to have had such a beautiful experience. And the last season, it was tough, but I think we’re all so proud of it too.

Villarreal: Before we get too deep into talking about this final season, I want to quickly rewind to the beginning. What do you remember about where you were in your career when “Dead to Me” came your way and drew you to this project?

Applegate: Sure. I’m always quitting. I retire every couple of years where I’m like, “You know what? I’m done.” And then something will come along that is so extraordinary, that changes my whole view of my future, of my life. And this was one of those things. All these interviews, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m pretty much done.” But I miss it. Now I’m like, “Oh, s—. I don’t know if I can stay away from this.” But the only problem is I just want to do it with Linda.

But, so yeah, I was basically in one of my “I’m retiring” moments, and I got yelled at by my manager, who’s like, “Stop telling Jessica Elbaum you’re retiring ‘cause she’s got this amazing script and this amazing show that’s picked up by Netflix. You idiot.”

Villarreal: Linda?

Applegate: I just loved the script. I loved the twist at the end of the first episode. I thought, “Wow, this is a really fun thing to play and this seems like a great group of people to do it with,” and I just didn’t know that’s what I would be doing next. And that’s kind of the beauty of it. And I was lucky that it shot in Los Angeles so I could be near my family.

Villarreal: You both have extensive experience acting in TV and film over the years. Are there any past roles or or experiences that helped shape your characters for “Dead to Me”?

Applegate: I mean, besides it being written before I was a part of it, Jen was me. A part of me. When you play something, you’re borrowing from your own life, you borrow a little piece and then you borrow from the script, and the two things come together as one hopefully very multidimensional character.

But, yeah, I mean, I think with — speaking for myself, not for Linda, what we were doing, it was not planned. It was like the universe gave us this gift of being together and knowing each other without saying anything. And that rarely, if not ever, comes along as an actor to connect with someone on the kind of level that I think we did.

Villarreal: Since the show premiered in, what was it, 2019, it’s been praised for maintaining this delicate balance of dark comedy and real emotional depth. And that’s no different with Season 3. It’s heartbreaking. It’s shocking. It’s funny. What scared or intrigued you about where Liz Feldman, the show’s creator, decided to take these characters in the final season?

Applegate: Do you want to answer it, my love?

Cardellini: I got a heavy diagnosis there in the third season, to which we were always like, “How do we mine the funny out of these terrible things?” And that was kind of our challenge, which was fun. And also heavy. And then of course, with real-life things, even heavier.

[Clip from “Dead to Me”: JUDY: Where is the nurse? Is this button just for show? NURSE: You rang? Thirty times? JUDY: Mmm, I don’t think it was 30. NURSE: I was rounding down. JUDY: Well, she’s in a lot of pain. JEN: Isn’t there something you can give me? NURSE: I can’t just give out meds. Doctor has to examine you and sign off. JEN: OK, then, can you get the f—ing doctor? JUDY: Jen! JEN: What? JUDY: Can you please get the f—ing doctor? NURSE: I will do my f—ing best. JEN: Aw. JUDY: Thank you. JEN: F—ing thank you. ]

Applegate: When we got to laugh, those were my favorite days. I think you and I would sometimes look at each other and be like, we have a day of laughing. And those were so invaluable, at least for me in my personal life, but also the most fun to do, especially with a freaking genius like Miss Loony over here. I loved every sec— I’ve never loved doing comedy with someone more than I have with Linda Cardellini.

Cardellini: I love it with you too.

Applegate: It’s the truth.

Cardellini: I mean, I feel so lucky we — and you’re so open. I think part of what happened for both of us is that we’re both really open to whatever happens, and it makes it so fun. We’re not stuck in our ways. We’re not trying to outdo each other. We’re just there for each other, with each other, enjoying each other, and it really makes a huge difference. It’s like a free exchange of fun.

Applegate: All I wanted to ever do was make her laugh. If I could tell the truth but also make her break, that was the best —

Cardellini: Yep.

Applegate: — part of my day, was the little twinkle in her eye that was, she was trying so hard to keep it together. And same the other way, where I would try to keep it together for her and couldn’t. Or you’d hear Liz, behind the monitors, giggling. Those were the best days ever for me.

Cardellini: Yeah. We really felt accomplished if we got Liz to ruin a take laughing.

Applegate: If we got Liz to ruin the takes, we knew we were on the right track. ’Cause she’s hardcore.

Villarreal: Christina, as you mentioned, you received your diagnosis of MS while making Season 3.

Applegate: That’s so funny, right?

Villarreal: How much of — no.

Cardellini: Stop it.

Villarreal: It’s not.

Applegate: Sorry. You know this: I use humor to keep myself from losing my s—. Yes, go ahead.

Villarreal: I hear you. But how much of knowing, how much of that laughter you knew you were going to get from that set, or just the support, led to your decision to continue filming? What kept you going?

Applegate: We had to finish. I don’t like to stop something in the middle of it. And it wasn’t about my ego and it wasn’t about anything, but we had to finish. We had to tell the story. It was written long before all the bad s— happened, and we knew that we had something really beautiful and we owed it to not only ourselves, but to the people that love the show. I wanted as much time with Linda as I possibly could have.

Villarreal: How does it make you feel to —

Cardellini: Well, now you’re stuck with me for the rest of your life.

Applegate: Forever.

Cardellini: Forever.

Applegate: Thank God.

Villarreal: How was that for you, Linda, though? Were you — I know you had your concerns about moving forward.

Cardellini: I did. I just wanted Christina to take care of herself. I didn’t want her to feel like she needed to do anything for anybody other than — You know, life is full of lots of things, and work is important, but nothing’s more important than your health and your family and your friends. So I wanted to make sure that she was putting herself and her health first.

The one thing I was grateful for, when we did come back to work, is that the whole community on our show just care so much about her and love her so much. So it was just, I was happy that you had a community of people around you to show you how much we love you and are going to be there for you every day. ’Cause I know when you go through hard stuff in life, it’s nice to have people around you.

Applegate: And let me add to that, because when people do ask me if I’m going to work again, unless it has that feeling of support and advocacy, I can’t. And what was really so invaluable was this notion that, “OK, today you feel like s—, you can’t get down the stairs? We’re not going to shoot.”

And it wasn’t a big deal. There was no question, there was no “Could you try?” Well, there was a couple of days of “Could you try?” and then we set them in their place of, “No.” When I say no, it means no. And I’m not trying to be a B-word. I’m just saying it physically is impossible for me to do something.

But, look, let’s be honest here. Female driven. OK, that’s got ladies running the show. Ladies directing, ladies ADing [assistant directing], ladies writing, producing. It was, so you’d kind of get a different perspective.

Villarreal: When it comes to the influence of Hollywood, from the stories they tell to the voices championed, is there anything you wish people in the industry would be more aware of?

Applegate: I think when someone says they can’t do something, they can’t do something. I don’t know if you agree with me, Linda, but there’s a lot of, “Oh, you have a 104 fever? Tough s—. You’re coming to work. You broke your leg? Tough s—. We’ll shoot you from the knees up.” There’s this sense of — and especially if it’s coming from females — that we’re complaining or we’re not strong enough or we’re not cut out for it or we’re divas. And I think that there’s such a sense of that across the board.

I wish we all could be advocates for ourselves, but we’re still not allowed. We’ve got to get our male agent to fight for us because if it’s coming from us, then we’re a—holes, you know? And that’s not OK. I wish that would change.

Villarreal: The dynamic of leaning on one another really comes through in the show and in this final season in particular. And Linda, as you mentioned, your character’s dealing with a terminal illness. What was your approach to this storyline and how it was different from portraying her fertility struggles?

Cardellini: I think it’s different for her because her fertility struggle still seems sort of ongoing in her mind. She’s kind of coming to terms with it. It isn’t even until — for Judy, when she figures out that she has this kind of cancer that she really puts to bed the idea that she might never have a family, like that’s a part of another moment for her. So it still hasn’t, that penny still hasn’t totally dropped for her. She still was hanging on to that.

I think that the diagnosis being terminal for her gives her a different mission in life. And I think Jen accepting her as part of her family gives her some kind of closure that I think she always wanted and wasn’t allowed to have.

Villarreal: Right. Well, Liz Feldman, the show’s creator, discussed using Judy’s prognosis as a method for Jen’s character to find healing and sort of come to grips with mortality. So, Christina, could you share your experience delving into those emotions as Jen?

Applegate: I didn’t need to dive. They lived underneath my skin like really bad boils. So I — It’s a hard question to answer because — sorry.

Villarreal: No, I’m sorry. Should we take a moment?

Applegate: No, I’m fine. It’s just, it’s all, you know, it was all real. It was so real, on so many levels that it’s like — I’d love to say that I had to go do a bunch of notes on my script, but I didn’t. Because we were living it. We were living it together. And I’m not talking about my stuff. My mom was going through cancer at the same time, and dealing with that, it’s all — sorry.

Cardellini: Yeah, there was a lot going on. There was a lot going on that made it feel very real at times for all of us. But the whole show is about grief. There are always real feelings happening for all of us when we are talking about any of the number of things that we are talking about on the show, because it’s just — the way that they wrote the grief, and the way that they write the love and the friendships, just ends up really resonating with you when you’re saying the words on the day.

That’s just, something from Season 1 we were dealing with. We would go, “Oh my God, this scene,” and then we would end up crying for 10 minutes after the scene was over. And then be like, “OK, now we have to go, I don’t know, eat chips on the run and do some kind of funny improv.” So it was just —

Applegate: Sometimes all in one scene.

Cardellini: Yeah, it’s just the way the show is orchestrated. And it’s really beautiful in some ways, and also painful, that it taps into these things of feeling these highs and lows in the span of a few minutes. But it’s also what makes these characters so incredible to play and then, hopefully, to watch.

Villarreal: What were those moments? You talk about the way that grief sort of is in every pocket of this show, but what people respond to so much is your dynamic and those moments of unfiltered laughter, just cackling so much, like the scene where you guys are both high. I could live in that scene for hours. I love that scene.

Applegate: Which high scene? There’s drunk, there’s mushrooms, and I think there’s a pot scene.

[Clip from “Dead to Me”: JUDY: What are you doing? JEN: I think I’m doing mushrooms. What are you doing? Hm, tastes like butt. JUDY: Oh no no no that’s too — JEN: What? Mmm. JUDY: Never mind. JEN: I’m excited! Judy, I went down on a Smurf and I had some kind of reaction. Am I swole? JUDY: Oh, no, no, I don’t like it. JEN: You don’t? Shh, shh. It’s OK. It’s OK. [Balloon pops. Jen and Judy scream.] JEN: Oh, applesauce? Who the f— eats applesauce in this house? JUDY: Everybody. JEN: Do you eat applesauce? JUDY: Yes. I’m sitting where you were sitting. JEN: I’m sitting where you sat.]

Villarreal: How nourishing were moments like that?

Applegate: Oh my god. It was everything, man. It was everything to me to do that with this girl. Like I said, it’s very, very rare that you get to have a partner that you’re playing pingpong with and who isn’t trying to slam dunk on you. I’ve worked with those. And it was real because we have trust. I trust my whole life in her hands when it comes to that, and I feel like she trusts me to have her back. In a scene! I’m not talking about — we’re not going to go emotional again. I’m talking about in a scene.

Cardellini: We will in a minute.

Applegate: I probably will because I am so knee-deep in four years of menopause, and I’m a disaster. Anyway.

Cardellini: I’ll be emotional, but I’ll be pretending that I’m not.

Applegate: Right. You’re going to just get stern and I’m just going to be a blubbering idiot.

But no, it was like she knew I had her back and I knew she had my back. And so that’s why those scenes were so much fun to shoot. Because there was no plan. It’s like, “Let’s just see what the F happens,” and I’d say nine times out of 10, it was good. And then sometimes it would go on too long and then we’d look at each other and go, “This is bad, and we need to stop now. We can’t think of any more dialogue today.”

Cardellini: Yeah. We’ll be like, “That’s enough.”

Applegate: “That’s enough.”

Villarreal: Tell me more about that moment. Which scene was that?

Applegate: All of them.

Villarreal: “All of them.”

Cardellini: Well, at a certain point they just let us keep going past the end, and then we will just keep having fun with each other for as long as possible and try to get the crew to laugh or whatever it is. And then at some point it just goes beyond absurd and we have to —

Applegate: It gets weird.

Cardellini: That was the greatest gift, though, to me, because Liz is such a great writer and we have so many great writers, and so the writing would always be amazing. And so sometimes when the writing’s amazing, they don’t like to let you do whatever you want too. But Liz really is so trusting with us. And that is something that Christina and I have onscreen but we also have with Liz offscreen where she just, she trusts us and we trust her.

Applegate: I think most of the time you and I just want to do what’s on the page. Like, “Can we please —”

Cardellini: Yeah, yeah.

Applegate: “— don’t make us make up s— today. Please. Can we just say the words? They’re really good. You guys are really good at the writing and the things, and just let’s leave it there. The things.”

Cardellini: We also have sad improvs, too, which was a real fun thing. It was like. We also have dramatic improvs.

Villarreal: Wait, what’s — tell me about sad improvs.

Applegate: Wait, what were our sad improvs?

Cardellini: I don’t know. But I just feel like we also had sad improvs.

Applegate: Like our last scene together. I do believe that — not “I do believe,” I know for a fact, Liz came over and goes, “Can you guys not cry so much?”

Cardellini: Yeah, she did. She did. I was —

Applegate: She told me not to cry at all until you start crying. And I’m like, the second she says, “I had a really good time,” I’m like, [blubbering]. I was losing my mind.

Cardellini: Yeah, that line was a — that was a toughie.

Applegate: It was even a tough — Babe, do you remember when we did the table read?

Cardellini: The Zoom read-through,

Applegate: Zoom read-through.

Cardellini: It was a Zoom, even.

Applegate: Almost two years before we shot it. She and I couldn’t get through that scene. And that was long before all the things and the things in life and the things. And you said to me when we were sitting there in that — we were like two little nerds crying during our Zoom read-through. You’re like, “I’ve had a really good time.” And I’m like, “Me too.”

Cardellini: Well, it’s really written so beautifully, though.

Applegate: Yeah. It’s — that’s why —

Cardellini: It really is.

Applegate: It’s not us. It’s the writing.

Cardellini: It’s just a beautiful piece of writing. And the idea that you could live a life, know that you’re going to leave the life and actually say, “I’ve had such a good time.” Isn’t that what everybody would hope for? You know? And to be there sitting with the person who’s made your life what it is, it just is — I just thought they did such a beautiful job with, how do you say goodbye to anybody? And what a generous way to say goodbye. And what a beautiful way to leave this world by saying, “I have had such a good time,” you know?

Applegate: I can’t even talk about that scene now. I get real chills. I miss you, Linda.

Cardellini: Miss you too. I’m having such a great time on this podcast.

Applegate: Having so much fun. I had a really good time too.

Villarreal: This show really explores and celebrates the strength and longevity of female friendship and how those friendships can provide a safe space for assessing ourselves. How important are those kinds of relationships for you at this stage in your lives?

Applegate: Very. Very.

Cardellini: Very, very important. I’ve had friends that I’ve had since kindergarten. Since birth. I keep my friends. I find people I love and I keep them forever. I’m lucky to be able to do that. I’m lucky to have people who care about me. Relationships can come and go, but there’s something about female friendship. For me, it’s sort of, it just helps you through everything.

Applegate: I have a friend who I’ve known since I was 21 years old and friends that I’ve known since I was 13, 15. And those are the people that I still have around in my life. My one friend, she comes here on the weekends to just watch after me and we don’t even need to say anything. There’s 30-something years of everything there, and she speaks the same language that I do. So yes, she’s a disaster, but she’s my best friend and I love her with all my heart, and that’s kind of who I surround myself with. No time for yucks or icks, you know?

Villarreal: Over the seasons, motherhood has also played a significant role on the show and particularly with Jen, as a single parent. She’s not only juggling murder investigations, but car crashes, and we’ve seen her grapple with so much. And we’ve also seen a more realistic side of motherhood, like she is not afraid to call her kids a—holes when they’re acting that way. It’s a type of motherhood that’s not often shown onscreen.

Applegate: But very much exists.

Villarreal: Yeah, that very much exists. What is it about the exploration of motherhood that you think resonates with audiences?

Applegate: Because finding a flawed mother being represented on television is a sense of repose for all the mothers who think that they’re not doing it right, who think that they’re failing. And I think that there are more mothers out there who feel that way, even though they’re not. Because there’s something in society that makes us be like helicopter parents or this, “You’ve got to have this product and this food and this thing and this thing and you have to teach them like this.”

I’m from the ’70s. I was raised by wolves. I was raised by wolves. So my parenting is a little unorthodox than what is in the booklet, you know, that annoy me. So I think that a flawed mother gives other women a mirror.

I called my kid an a—hole today too, and I felt so horrible about it, I cried. But you know what? Jen’s calling her kids an a—hole. And you know what? They still love her and they’re still getting it done, and she still has control at the end of the day, and she still is the mother and she cares about them. She loves them more than anything in the world.

Villarreal: And, Linda, we get to see Judy, she’s grappling with her infertility but she still finds ways to mother. We see how she sort of takes on that role with Jen’s sons. How did you approach the different kinds of mothering?

Cardellini: Well, I don’t think you have to be technically a mother to be nurturing like a mother is. I think there are plenty of people that I’ve met in my life who have nurtured me who don’t have their own children, and I was so grateful for that feeling from them.

I also think that Judy has a strained relationship with her own mother. So what it means to be a mother has always kind of — she’s always wished for something that she was — very unknown and probably idealized in a way, but she really just was looking for that feeling of unconditional love. I think that’s the one thing she felt she didn’t really have. She was always kind of used as a tool in whatever shenanigans her mother was getting into. Although I think her mother does, at the end of the day, care about her.

But I think she has a complicated relationship to motherhood. It’s something that she wants very much for herself. It was probably her biggest dream for herself, and she doesn’t get it the way she thought she would, but she does end up achieving that, which I think gives her some peace as she moves on.

Villarreal: Speaking of your character’s mother, she’s played by Katey Sagal, the great Katey Sagal.

Cardellini: The great.

Applegate: The great.

Villarreal: Christina, Katey is a big figure in your life. She played your mother on “Married … With Children” for all those years. I’m curious what that was like for you to share in this final season with her, this person who has been a mother figure to you for so long. How was that for you?

Applegate: I mean, obviously it was incredible. Katey is my mommy. I still call her Mommy. I don’t call her Katey. I call her Mommy. She’s been my mother since I was 15 years old. She is a huge part of my life to this day.

And the funny thing was, in the scene there’s this underlying aggression between these two characters that is so — you could cut it with a knife. And we’re doing this scene. And Liz, I’ve never seen Liz come in to direct me or someone else more, ever, because it wasn’t working. The scene was not working at all.

And finally Liz took me aside and she goes, “You’re being too f—ing nice to each other.” And I went, “Oh, we are, because we love each other very, very much.” So we had to, I had to say, I said to Katey, I said, “Katey, we, it’s got to go. It’s gone. Bye-bye, love. Bye-bye, happiness.”

Villarreal: Parts of the finale are purposefully open-ended. It’s a trademark cliffhanger. How do you feel about the ambiguity surrounding not only Judy’s fate, but Jen’s words at the end? Not knowing what they are?

Applegate: I always say that Judy went off to a taco place on a little island shack and she got marooned there and there’s no cell service. So she’s still alive. That’s what I have to have in my heart.

Villarreal: Well, with the conclusion of the series, what are your thoughts on the legacy of “Dead to Me,” and what do you hope viewers take away from the show?

Cardellini: I have no idea. I mean, you hope that people just enjoy the show and that it resonates with them in some which way, shape, or form and that they enjoy it. Because we are just out there trying to make something that people can relate to and enjoy and also feel like it’s something fun and fresh, you know?

I think, for me, I love Jen and Judy’s friendship. I really — there are some duos in television and film that I just, you know, female duos that I just love. And they’re just, when you think about them, that comes to mind. And I feel like, for me, being able to play Jen and Judy, I just love their relationship. I love them as a duo, and I think of them almost not separately, only together. I hope that’s a little bit everlasting from the show.

Applegate: Yeah, I agree. I think, I hope that people go back and rewatch because it’s been a minute. I hope people can go back and check us out again because they’re a really special duo. Because women so often are portrayed on television as catty and competitive. And not so often do you see the real true love that happens between best girlfriends that we know, that we get.

Villarreal: As someone who has done a rewatch of “Dead to Me” already, and in particular —

Cardellini: Yvonne, you’re the best.

Applegate: She’s the best. She’s always been such a good one to us.

Cardellini: You are. God.

Villarreal: — and in particular that final episode, I think I’ve seen it three or four times. I know you don’t want to get into this scene too much, but that moment on the bed where you do say, “I’ve had a really good time,” it makes me burst into tears every single time because it’s not only your characters saying that, it’s you guys saying that. And so I don’t even know how you got through that.

Applegate: We didn’t.

Cardellini: Yeah, there was a lot of snot and tears.

Applegate: It was a lot of snot, and that was literally our last night together. So they calculated that to be the last scene that we ever shot together.

Cardellini: It was such a generous thing to do scheduling-wise for us, because sometimes the schedule has to be certain ways so that they can be in certain locations and tear down certain sets, especially when the show’s going. It was a very generous thing for everybody to come together and put that last. For all of us, just to be there with everybody, all these dear friends on camera and off, to be there together and to have that final moment. We were all saying goodbye.

Applegate: Yep. I’ll never forget, Linda, when I was pulling out in the car and you came to give our last hug and you were crying and you said, “You take care of you now.” And it was like —

Cardellini: Yeah.

Applegate: Sorry. See, I love this girl so much. But it was like, you gave me permission to go and take care of me, and I love you for that.

Cardellini: And I love you. That’s the most important thing, is you take care of yourself.

Villarreal: Well, yeah. Literally. Christina, you’ve said that this could be your last role on screen, but obviously at the top of this conversation you also acknowledged that there are times where you’re not so sure. How are you feeling about it?

Applegate: I mean, everything’s up in the air now. There’s a few things that I’ve been — you know, I’m just so afraid of going somewhere and people not being like our crew, and that scares me to death. Like, I have to be able to say, “I literally can’t come to work today.” I have to be able to say that. There were times where I couldn’t get down my stairs to get out to the car and would have to call the producers and say, “I have fallen on the stairs and there’s no way out of my house. I can’t. My house is two stories. I can’t get out of here.” So that’s what I’m afraid of.

Cardellini: You need to make sure you have someone looking out for you and somebody who can draw boundaries, right? Sometimes when you’re in this situation, it’s hard to draw boundaries ‘cause you’re trying to do your job.

Applegate: And I’m a pusher-through-everything kind of person. I’ve been that way my whole life. I danced on a broken foot on Broadway for a year. We’ve all done it. We all are these workhorses that are told we have to be like this.

Cardellini: The show must go on.

Applegate: So to have to go, “Here’s actually a list from my doctor of what I can and cannot do.”

Villarreal: Linda, what about you? How has the experience working with the people on “Dead to Me” shaped what you are looking for in the future?

Cardellini: It was nice that Christina and I were producers and we had a voice and people listened. That was wonderful. That’s something that I look forward to doing again.

And working on “Dead to Me,” it was just so much fun. I think it gave me a lot of confidence in sort of — I had been doing drama for a while, so it got me back into comedy and made me feel like I could have that kind of fun again. And that was really wonderful. I was really lucky to have Christina, and I don’t know how I’m going to get another sparring partner like that. That is pretty amazing.

Applegate: We’re not. I’m going to tell you, and not because I’m saying it about me. No, Yvonne. I know that — I know, for me, I will never have a partner like you. It doesn’t exist.

Villarreal: Listen, you guys are our new version of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and they’ve done like seven projects together at this point.


‘Bring me a tissue!’ Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda open up about their fabled friendship
May 24, 2022

Cardellini: They are the best.

Villarreal: So it’s possible, and we want it.

Applegate: OK, fine. Are we ready?

Cardellini: They are amazing. If you’re going to compare me to them, I’m happy, thank you.

Applegate: OK, let’s do it. Let’s do it, then.

Cardellini: Yeah, sure.

Villarreal: Please.

Applegate: No, those days that I got to laugh with you were the pleasures of my life. It bookended all the rest of my crap, was being with you.

Villarreal: Well, I have to say before we wrap things up, I love nothing more than a good female friendship on my screen. Lucy and Ethel started it all for me when I was 5. So in honor of Jen and Judy joining such icons as one of our favorite duos, tell me about the TV female friendship that you love.

Cardellini: Oh, I loved “Laverne & Shirley.”

Applegate: Yeah.

Cardellini: And I loved Lucy and Ethel. I used to watch that all the time. If I got to stay home from school, that was — that was on, all the old TV was on, and I just, my mom loved “I Love Lucy,” and I would watch that a lot.

Applegate: Yeah. I mean, I love “Laverne & Shirley,” obviously. But I also love “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family” that were women being women together. It was so much fun. I can’t think of everybody — or “Maude,” you know, female-driven things that have —

Cardellini: Yeah, yep.

Applegate: “The Golden Girls.”

Cardellini: “Golden Girls,” I watch it all the time. It’s on late at night.

Applegate: “Kate & Allie.” Just kidding. No, but sure.

Cardellini and Applegate: “Cagney & Lacey.”

Applegate: What else?

Villarreal: I love that. Well, ladies, it was such a pleasure speaking with you.

Cardellini: You too.

Applegate: You too. You’ve always been so good to us over the years, so thank you.

Cardellini: You really have. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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