Christina Applegate shares inspiration and Samantha Who? insight. Applegate is a breast cancer survivor and an entertainment business survivor as well. Who else could triumph over typecasting by putting Kelly Bundy behind her on Married with Children and becoming a movie star who successfully returns to television as ABC’s Samantha who cannot remember her past?
Applegate became synonymous with comic gold during Married with Children’s ten year run on Fox. Applegate says her stellar comedy skills arose from those bodacious Bundy days. Perseverance pays in show business and Applegate abounds with the quality.
Married with Children went off the air in 1997 and by that point Applegate had appeared in dozens of films.
She found box office success opposite Cameron Diaz and Selma Blair in The Sweetest Thing, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Preston in View From the Top and Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.Samantha Who? returns March 26 and Applegate took a few moments from filming her hit show to speak with SheKnows about life on and off screen — and whether surviving breast cancer makes her an inspiration.
Who’s that girl?
SheKnows: Samantha Who? is such a unique concept, what part of the whole thing first enticed you?Christina Applegate: Donald Todd (laughs). He’s an amazing man. In sitting down with him, his sense of humor, he’s very dry. He’s very wise and his idea and vision for the show — if I was going to come back and do something — that was a perfect fit for me. To come and do something in front of a live audience or come back and do a cop drama, do you know what I mean? It had to be something in the middle. I really liked what he wanted to go for — that was the first thing that attracted me.SheKnows: Was it also the character of Samantha? I would think someone whose memory is gone would be a joy to tackle for an actress.Christina Applegate: The idea of waking up and not remembering who you are is such a great wonderful and frightening thing for an actor to have to do because so much of what we do is make up the history of our characters so we understand the things that they do. If anyone’s like me, and a lot of actors write journals of day one until that moment of making up what they experienced. That was always the fun for me when I work on something. To not have that (laughs), to have to be completely brand new and what that must feel like out in the world, is very enticing.SheKnows: You are literally creating the character in her mind off of the words on page.Christina Applegate: Yes, now she is in her terrible twos (laughs). She’s messing up a lot (laughs).
SheKnows: The cast is just fabulous, but I wanted to ask specifically about Jennifer Esposito and Jean Smart. What it’s like for you as a fellow actress to work with those two?
Christina Applegate: They’re very, very powerful ladies both of those women — both powerful and talented. Sometimes it can be intimidating because they really got their — excuse my French — sh** together. They are on it and they make it so different from what you could possibly imagine it would turn out to be and you got to roll with them. I’m there all day long. They come in a couple days a week and rock my world. It’s pretty wonderful, they’re pretty superb actresses and pretty fine ladies at that.
A natural comic actor
SheKnows: Your comic timing I’ve always thought is completely impeccable. We watched you grow up on Married with Children. Did you study the act of comedy at all? It seems such an innate gift for you.Christina Applegate: I did not know a thing about the funny before Married. That was my training ground. I did now know what I was doing. In fact, I was such a little snot about doing dramas that I thought that was the worst possible thing you could do (laughs). I was this little, 14 year-old who thought I was (laughs) — it was so ridiculous. Part of being funny is that you have to be ridiculous and let go of yourself. That was my training ground. It was 11 years of training and I figured, luckily in front of a live audience, they help you hone your timing, because, if you’re a second off, they don’t laugh. So, you got to make sure you’re in that pocket and that’s a whole another pocket to find. It’s not something you can really teach. You have to find it on your own.
SheKnows: You’re an Emmy winner and a Tony Award nominee, how did you avoid the typecast of being that dumb blonde who’s funny?Christina Applegate: I didn’t try to work outside of there when I walked home. I walked out of her shoes. She was not who I was at all. I think when I walked into a room to audition for something, I think you can’t help but just see me and that wasn’t her. But, I also try to capitalize on it. I think sometimes that happens. People get success with something and they depend on that and go back to it. I think there’s a little bit of her in everything that I do, but I wanted to stretch myself. I went and played a Jewish-American princess (in The Big Hit) after Married with Children ended. The fact that they hired me to play a Jewish-American princess in a movie was like (laughs) beyond me! Go figure…and then I played the president in the next movie I did.SheKnows: That’s right! Go figure.Christina Applegate: Yeah, go figure. That’s how you don’t get typecast. Go and do completely bizarre things.SheKnows: Like Mars Attacks and View from the Top, yes.
Christina Applegate: Yes!
Big on Broadway
SheKnows: On the Broadway stage with Sweet Charity, looking back, was that a welcomed challenge?Christina Applegate: I’ve been coming to New York since I was little. I have grandparents in New Jersey. That’s the thrill of my childhood was coming here at Christmas time and going to all the Broadway shows. I would sit there at seven years old doing â€˜I want to do this. This is what I want to do.’ From that moment forward, at home, that’s what I did. I took dance classes and I dabbled in singing lessons. Obviously, you heard me sing in Sweet Charity, I’m not best, best (laughs), but that’s what I wanted to do is do musical theater. When Charity came along I like lost it, I was so excited to audition for it. I was scared sh**less. I didn’t even care if I got it. I just wanted to audition. I wanted to have the experience of walking up the stairs in some theater and doing an audition.SheKnows: It worked out really well needless to sayâ€¦Christina Applegate: It was a thrilling day. It was an amazing, difficult day. They did not let me (laughs) get away with anything. They work you so hard in these auditions. Everything you see in All That Jazz, that’s what they do. It’s painful.SheKnows: I’d imagine the eight shows a week is another form of training too.Christina Applegate: Oh my God, I was in the best shape of my life. I didn’t walk into a gym for a year. I didn’t have to — it’s really kind of getting two and a half hours of non-stop. It’s pretty amazing. I was in incredible shape.
SheKnows: I lot of the stories we’ve covered at SheKnows Entertainment in the last couple of years, really gotten an incredible response from the women, are you comfortable with the phrase: ‘an inspiration to people?’
Christina Applegate: You know, sometimes I don’t feel very inspirational in my life. But, if the fact that coming out and being really honest about what I went through, that was the only way it was going to be effective was if I was really honest. If that helped some people, if that woke up some people in their eyes or prompted them to go get tested, or got them to feel OK about what just happened to them and talk to somebody about it, then I love the word and I don’t mind being called that.