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Broadway Q&A: Christina Applegate of ‘Dead to Me’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

The actress dishes on her new Netflix series, her Broadway debut and the short-lived time she gave up acting

An Emmy award-winning actress and comedian, whose credits include iconic TV shows, hit movies and event starring on Broadway, Christina Applegate is starring and executive producing the new Netflix dark comedy Dead To Me. Most recently she appeared in her first Super Bowl commercial to launch M&M’s Chocolate Bars. Applegate, a mom in real life, played a mom figure. In the ad, Applegate drives several passengers in the back seat of her SUV. But they just won’t stop arguing or pipe down. What happens next? You just have to watch the commercial, which was ranked one of the top Super Bowl ads.

Christina Applegate recently starred in a Super Bowl commercial for M&Ms (Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Christina Applegate recently starred in a Super Bowl commercial for M&Ms (Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

You are starring and executive producing the new Netflix dark comedy Dead To Me. What can you share?
Christina Applegate
: They are still editing. We did 10 episodes. It’s very different tone-wise than anything we have seen. It is very dark, emotional sad, and often times funny. (The series was created by Liz Feldman and is executive produced by Feldman, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Jessica Elbaum and Applegate.)

Is there much you can tell us about your character? 
: I can’t say much. It’s one of those things where we can’t talk about what happens in episodes because it’s got, like, cliffhangers. I play a woman named Jen, whose husband had been killed in a hit-and-run three months prior to when we meet her. She meets this woman at a grief group, and they’re incredibly different. My character Jen is very angry and broken. And she meets up with this very, positive free spirit named Judy (Linda Cardellini). They become friends. I can’t say any more about what happens. 

You have been acting since you were very little, isn’t that right? 
: I have been a member of SAG since 1974. 

How did you get your SAG card?
: It’s something that I should ask my mom. But my SAG card says “member since 1974,” which I always find really hilarious because I was born in 1971.

Did you ever not want to perform? 
: There was a moment when I was about 13. I shaved my head and was going through that stage where I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to go to auditions after school all the time. I wanted to be a kid. My mom said “Okay, I’ll call and tell your agent you don’t want to do it anymore.” I went upstairs and had a panic attack. I came downstairs and said “Forget it. I can’t not do this.” That was it. 

What was cool about doing a Super Bowl ad for M&M’s? 
: You don’t often get asked to do a Super Bowl commercial. It’s that one time of year where everyone really ups the game on the ads. It’s a special thing to do. So I immediately said “yes.”

In the ad you are driving some unruly passengers in the back seat who are acting up and just won’t listen. Do you relate? 
: I can relate to driving in the car with children in the back who are driving me insane, I used to drive three kids to soccer every Thursday from school. Sometimes they were amazing back there. And sometimes they were driving me completely bonkers, so I get it. 

So how did you keep your sanity when the soccer kids in the back seat went bonkers? 
: I turned the music up in the front part of the car and turned it off back where they were. I also just tried to breathe. Sometimes I would get song requests from them, which was pretty funny. They always wanted to listen to the soundtrack from Labyrinth, the David Bowie movie. That would quiet them down. 

Didn’t you make your Broadway debut starring in Sweet Charity
: Yes. I felt so grateful. I grew up with Sweet Charity and anything Fosse. I always danced and thought I would be on Broadway. My mom took me to Broadway shows all the time when I was little in New York. When they said they were doing a revival of it, and wanted to know if I wanted to audition, I thought, "Oh my God, this is my dream." I auditioned and spent like 10 hours auditioning for it. Then I broke my foot and couldn’t really dance all that well in it anymore.

What were some Broadway shows you saw when you were a kid? 
: I was very much influenced by Broadway shows. A Chorus Line was big for me. I saw the original cast. Now watching it I think, "That was so inappropriate for my mom to take me to that when I was no more than 8." Cats, the original Wiz, Dream Girls and Evita were big shows for me. When I was a little girl, I remember seeing Evita with Patti LuPone, remember watching her as tears rolled down her face when she sang "Don’t Cry For Me Argentina." I thought to myself, "What a gift she is giving to us right now. I want to be like that. I want to be that good at something."

Would you like to come back to Broadway? 
: I don’t know if my body could do it. I could do a play when my daughter is a little bit older. 

Is there a role you are aching to play? 
: I’m playing the best role ever, which is my kid’s mom. That is what I’m doing right now. When you start living for someone else, every thought is about her. It has changed me as a person. It has changed me as an actress. She is just an inspiration. 

Is she interested in performing?
: She goes through moments. She did a musical theater camp over the summer for the first time. They did a production of Annie, and she played Ms. Hannigan. She was so good. I was so proud of her, especially since she is a kid who has never done it. Afterward she said "I want to be an actress." She got the bug. She is very musical like her dad. She was getting laughs and applause. And I thought, "Oh boy. Here it starts. Here we go."

With all the reboots happening do you envision a Married with Children one? 
: No. We’re all very busy. And I’m going to be 50 in two years. I don’t think anyone needs to see Kelly Bundy at almost 50. 

Where do you think Kelly would be at almost 50?
: Oh gosh. I have a feeling, not in a good place. No one needs to see that.
For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in February 2019.


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