When Christina Applegate walked the red carpet at the Screen Actor Guild Awards in February, she sent a strong message to her 2021 MS diagnosis: “FU MS” read the letters on her cane.
That symbol of defiance in the face of multiple sclerosis has inspired a new collaboration between the actress, 51, and Neo Walk, the UK walking stick company that custom designed her SAG cane.
The special edition cane (“FU MS” is written on a removable tag; a removable metal collar can be personalized with any message) is now available at neo-walk.com for £120 (about $150), with 5% of the profits going to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and the UK’s MS Society.
Applegate first learned of Neo Walk — founded by Lyndsay Watterson, who is an amputee — from her friend Selma Blair, who also lives with MS. “I saw Selma’s canes and fell in love with them,” Applegate says. “If I need to have a mobility aid, I might as well have a cool one. Lyndsay and I became friends and we decided to create one together that benefits the community.”
The collaboration, a clear acrylic cane which features a black DNA strand weaving through the center (which “symbolizes the invisible differences people have with chronic illness,” Watterson says), is one of the few projects Applegate has taken on recently.
After wrapping her Netflix series Dead to Me late last year, the actress has said she decided to step away from acting to deal with the effects of her MS, telling the Los Angeles Times earlier this year that her SAG award appearance was “my last awards show as an actor probably, so it’s kind of a big deal. Right now, I couldn’t imagine getting up at 5 a.m. and spending 12 to 14 hours on a set; I don’t have that in me at this moment.”
Instead, Applegate, who has been raw and open about the struggles she’s endured with the illness, is prioritizing her health, a friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Christina needs to focus on herself right now,” the friend says. “What she chooses to share with the public is very real and in her own time, but her energy and focus right now needs to be on taking care of herself and her family as she learns how to live with MS. MS affects everyone differently so she needs to tune into what works for her and what triggers her flare ups.”
But, the friend adds: “Christina is one of the strongest people I know and also one of the most caring and generous, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that she took time to collaborate and create a design that reflects her attitude and will also benefit others.”
Christina Applegate is nominated for her role as Jen Harding on Dead to Me at the 75th Emmy Awards!
Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”)
Natasha Lyonne (“Poker Face”)
Jenna Ortega (“Wednesday”)
As for now, FOX is slated to air the 75th Primetime Emmys on Monday, September 18, produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. But as Variety reported on Monday, the WGA strike and potential SAG-AFTRA strike will likely push the telecast to either November (the TV Academy’s choice) or January (when Fox would like to air it). A host has not yet been named.
Thank you to the @TelevisionAcad @netflix @CBS and also the Hollywood critics and of course @GoldDerby for this incredible honor. I am humbled and grateful. It’s been quite a ride. Thanks for the lift.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) July 12, 2023
Christina Applegate is nominated at the 2023 HCA TV Awards for her role as Jen Harding on Dead To Me! Due to the ongoing WGA strike and the SAG/AFTRA strike looming, winners of the 2023 HCA TV Awards will no longer be presented on August 12th and August 13th. Presentation of the HCA TV Awards Winners is TBD.
Best Actress in a Streaming Comedy Series
Christina Applegate – Dead to Me (Netflix)
Jenna Ortega – Wednesday (Netflix)
Kim Fields – The Upshaws (Netflix)
Maya Rudolph – Loot (Apple TV+)
Natasha Lyonne – Poker Face (Peacock)
Rachel Brosnahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
Selena Gomez – Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)
Tatiana Maslany – She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Disney+)
Source: Awards Radar
Christina Applegate and Dead To Me have been nominated at the 2023 Gold Derby TV awards! Fans get to cast their votes for their favorites! Head over to Gold Derby now and vote – voting is open until July 28th!
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”
Bridget Everett, “Somebody Somewhere”
Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building”
Natasha Lyonne, “Poker Face”
“Dead to Me”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Only Murders in the Building”
“Barry” – “It Takes a Psycho”
“The Bear” – “Review”
“Dead to Me” – “We’ve Reached the End”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – “Four Minutes”
“The Other Two” – “Cary and Brooke Go to an AIDS Play”
“Reservation Dogs” – “Mabel”
Source: Gold Derby
Christina Applegate was very intentional about who stood at the podium last November when she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Watching from the crowd with her husband and daughter at her side, Applegate heard remarks from her other family — “Married… With Children” co-stars Katey Sagal and David Faustino, and her “Dead to Me” support system, co-star Linda Cardellini and creator/writer Liz Feldman.
For Applegate, the foursome represents the full breadth of her 40-year career in Hollywood.
“There was no mistake as to who I asked to speak, kind of my beginning and my…,” she hesitates for the moment, editing her thoughts in real time, before she continues, “…my possible end. That was really important to me. It was about where I came from and where I landed.”
She chooses those words carefully — “possible end.” It’s an acknowledgment that her 2021 multiple sclerosis diagnosis has left her future as an actress uncertain. But in the same breath, she isn’t resigned to it.
Just like those words, Applegate has carefully curated her four-decade career in film and television, for which she will be honored with the TV Legacy Award at the Variety TV Fest on June 7.
But if you ask her to pinpoint an early project that set the tone for all that followed, she can’t do it. That’s because the project that encapsulates everything she wants in a character is “Dead to Me,” the one she puts the “possible end” asterisk beside.
“This is what I had always dreamed of doing,” she says of the Netflix series, which aired its final season last fall.
Applegate played Jen Harding, a short-fused mother of two whose life is upended when she befriends Judy Hale (Cardellini), a woman involved in her husband’s hit-and-run death. Applegate locked into Feldman’s dark wit immediately, and forged a real friendship with Cardellini –– mirroring Jen and Judy’s inseparable bond.
“This just sat in a pocket inside my own soul that was very easy to access and portray,” she says. “It’s like you are in a ping-pong match with someone and I think that’s what is so fun about working with Linda. It’s not tennis, you don’t want to slam and get the point. You want to keep going.”
Jen wasn’t an easy character to live with, though. In the first season, the intensity with which she confronts the world physically manifested itself in Applegate’s body.
“Jen gave me knots in my neck because she was wound so tight like a cobra or a frightened animal,” she says. “It was good Judy softened her because I couldn’t do that for three seasons.”
Applegate became protective of Jen and her flaws because it is not the kind of role Hollywood wanted to give her after 11 seasons playing Kelly Bundy on “Married … With Children.” When the series ended in 1997, Applegate says the dumb blonde roles came rolling in — and she turned them all down.
Instead, she found characters that veered away from what the industry seemed to want to limit her to. She was hungry for roles that had an edge she could match.
But it cost her. “I didn’t get roles because of my edge,” she says.
She recalls one director passing on her because there was a darkness in her eyes. More recently, a directing duo initially offered her the pick of any role in their movie. But after meeting her, she was told she could have the antagonistic role because, she says with a laugh, “they told me I scared them.”
She wears remarks like that as a badge of honor.
“Hey man, if you’re calling me strong, I would rather that than being called a pushover or being malleable to the people you come across in this business,” she says. “I am so happy I am the one nobody would fuck with.”
The audiences still rose to meet her in films like “Anchorman” and “The Sweetest Thing.” But TV comedies are where she thrives.
One of her favorites was ABC’s 2007 comedy “Samantha Who?,” playing an amnesiac given a second chance to shed the mean-girl persona she had before losing her memory. The cast included Jean Smart, who won an Emmy playing her mother, and a pre-“Bridesmaids” Melissa McCarthy. Smart will be presenting her with the award on Wednesday’s event.
Applegate hadn’t had a series regular role in seven years when she took the part, but had just won an Emmy for her guest turn as Jennifer Aniston’s sister on “Friends.” In “Samantha Who?,” she returned to the top of the call sheet. But when the 2007 writers strike hit, ABC execs shuffled the series around the schedule and after the second season, it was canceled.
Still, it holds a special place in her heart.
“It was the most fun I had ever had,” she says. “‘Dead to Me’ has that place in my heart now. But after ‘Samantha Who?,’ I never thought I would have another experience like that ever again. The cast and the crew were sublime. The stars aligned and we were gifted this moment in time. When it was cancelled, I cried in bed for, like, a month.”
But the show is never that far away from her, especially on the final season of “Dead to Me.”
Mitch Cohn from the Netflix show’s sound department held her legs steady off camera during doorway scenes when the MS made it tough to stand on her own. “I first worked with him on ‘Samantha Who?,’” she says. “Every job I come to, I try to get the crew I had on ‘Samantha Who?’ That’s what they mean to me.”
Where she will take them next is not known. Applegate is upfront about the limitations she faces with MS. It is why she is effusive in her gratitude for how accommodating the “Dead to Me” cast and crew were in helping her cross the finish line with the series.
“We don’t know what my future as an actress is going to be,” she says. “How can I handle it? How can I go onto a set and call the shots of what I need as far as my boundaries, physically? I don’t know who is going to be as loving and understanding as this group of people were.”
Until she can answer that question, she’s developing projects behind the scenes. She’s attached to a voice role in a project she calls “one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” and she’s starting a podcast with a friend who also has MS and shares her dry humor for their shared circumstance.
Months after its release, she has also taken time to watch the final season of “Dead to Me,” which proved to be a challenge in emotional endurance.
“I could see the excruciating pain I was in every day I was there and I didn’t want to relive it,” she says. “I had to take it in little tiny doses but I think it is a beautiful piece of work. I’m so grateful to Liz for seeing I had it in me.”
And she’s thankful for Cardellini, the Judy to her Jen, adding, “If this is my last job, thank God it was with her.”