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.