Christina Applegate revealed that she may not be returning to set in the near future as her multiple sclerosis (MS) progresses. The Married with Children alum was diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune disease back in 2021.
In a profile with the Los Angeles Times, Applegate said that the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards will be her “last awards show as an actor probably, so it’s kind of a big deal.”
Applegate is nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for her role as Jen Harding in the dark Netflix show Dead to Me.
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MS is a degenerative disease that attacks the central nervous system. It can affect vision, memory, balance and mobility and common symptoms include muscle stiffness, vertigo and cognitive impairment. Currently, there is no cure, according to the MS Society of Canada.
Applegate told the LA Times that she plans to continue working on producing and developing, but acting on-set may be out of the question given her current condition.
“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,” she said, though Applegate does plan on “doing a sh-t ton of voice-overs to make some cash to make sure that my daughter’s fed and we’re homed.”
Applegate previously revealed that she requires a cane to walk.
Applegate revealed her MS diagnosis in August 2021, while shooting Dead to Me’s third and final season. The show had to take a break from shooting after Applegate began to experience “leg pain and tremors,” leading to her diagnosis.
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The actor insisted on returning to finish the season, even as the disease progressed, which proved to be a vulnerable experience.
“I was a wreck every day, but most of that wreck would take place in my trailer by myself,” Applegate said. “But there were times I’d break down on set and be like, ‘I can’t, we have to take a break, I need a half-hour,’ and everyone was so loving that it was OK.”
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Applegate spoke about how meaningful it was to act alongside co-star and friend Linda Cardellini, who plays Judy Hale in the Netflix comedy, saying that sometimes the “set would disappear.”
“Everyone kind of disappeared, and it was the two of us as best friends, supporting each other, loving each other and saying goodbye to each other. I’d like to say there was skill involved, but really, Linda and I just disappeared.”
The final season of Dead to Me aired in November 2022, but Applegate said it took her “months” before she was able to watch it.
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“I don’t like seeing myself struggling,” she told the LA Times. “Also, I gained 40 pounds because of inactivity and medications, and I didn’t look like myself, and I didn’t feel like myself.”
“At some point, I was able to distance myself from my own ego and realize what a beautiful piece of television it was. All the scenes I wasn’t in were so much fun to see and experience for the very first time,” she added.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, with an estimated 90,000 Canadians living with the disease, according to the MS Society. About 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day.