The untold truth of Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate has been a fixture on TV and movie screens since the late 1980s, when the then-15-year-old actress was cast as teenager Kelly Bundy in the envelope-pushing Fox sitcom Married... with Children. When the series ended after 11 seasons, Applegate moved on to star in her own sitcom, Jesse, which debuted in 1998.

Her IMDb page is flush with career highlights that followed: guest-starring on Friends (which brought her an Emmy win); appearing opposite Will Ferrell in the iconic cult comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; headlining network television comedies Samantha Who? and Up All Night; and becoming part of the big-screen Bad Moms franchise. In 2019, Applegate returned to TV alongside Linda Cardellini in the Netflix dramedy Dead to Me, bringing her critical acclaim and more award nominations.

Over the decades, Applegate has brought countless laughs to viewers, who have also followed her through the ups and downs of her personal life. To find out even more about this talented actress, read on to discover the untold truth of Christina Applegate. 

Christina Applegate made her first TV appearance as a baby

Christina Applegate's acting career is nearly as old as she is. In fact, she made her television debut when she was only a few months old. According to a 1999 profile in People, her first TV appearance was at three months of age, alongside her mother, actress Nancy Priddle, on daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. Her first professional acting gig, she told Us Weekly, came at the same age. "I had my first acting job in a Playtex baby bottle commercial when I was 3 months old," she told the magazine.

In fact, Applegate became a seasoned veteran in front of the camera when she was still a child, and she appeared in a number of TV commercials as a youngster. In one commercial for Purina Cat Chow, a preteen Applegate crashes a garage sale to brag about her cat receiving a clean bill of health from the veterinarian thanks to all the Cat Chow it's been scarfing down.

In another commercial from the 1980s, Applegate is seen gazing in awe at a Pose Me Pretty Barbie as another young actress gushes, "Barbie, you're a nighttime knockout!"

Christina Applegate was a "dark kid" who never envisioned a career in comedy

Christina Applegate is known primarily as a comedic actress, a fact that would have surprised her teenage self. In a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, she described herself as "a dark kid" who "always thought serious projects were going to be my jam." It was landing the now-iconic role of bubble-headed Kelly Bundy on Married... with Children, she explained, that unleashed her comedic talents. Applegate explained that the series allowed her to lighten up. 

Reminiscing with the Times about some of those roles, she said she'd come to realize how groundbreaking Married... with Children was. "We turned the table on the traditional sitcom," she said, calling the series the "black sheep" of the Fox network. "We were left alone to our own accord to do what we wanted to do and I think that's why we were able to get away with as much as we could," she shared.

The surprising reason Christina Applegate had to wear a wig on Married... with Children

One of Kelly Bundy's most distinctive physical characteristics was her long blonde hair. However, there was one point when the hair viewers saw on TV wasn't actually Christina Applegate's.

Applegate told Us Weekly that her natural hair had to be hidden in one season. "During the last season of [Married... with Children], I wore a wig because I had dyed my hair purple and red," she told the magazine. "What a rebel."

Applegate may not have been telling the whole story. At that point in the series' run, she was in her mid-20s and was becoming increasingly in demand as an actress. Further investigation indicates the purple-and-red hair color may have actually been for a movie she was shooting, 1997's Nowhere. According to Screen Rant, Applegate played a character called Dingbat, dying her hair and chopping it short for the role. As a result, Screen Rant wrote, in some episodes in Married... with Children's tenth and penultimate season (not the final one, as she recalled), Kelly Bundy's signature blonde 'do was a wig and not the real deal.

Why Christina Applegate has no interest in a Married... with Children reboot

As older TV shows are rebooted and resuscitated, Christina Applegate has insisted the chances of a Married... with Children revival are beyond slim.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, Applegate revealed there had been a "smattering" of interest in reviving the show a few years earlier when David Faustino attempted to launch a spinoff focused on his character, Bud Bundy. "That was actually going to happen, and I think Ed O'Neill [Al Bundy] and Katey Sagal [Peg Bundy] and I had said we would definitely be in the pilot for him," she said. "It just never happened. That was a few years ago, and now I'm almost 50 and no one needs to see me in a mini dress. It's just not in the cards. That ship has sailed."

Applegate doubled down during a red carpet interview with Variety. She noted that fans wouldn't be interested in a reboot at this point. She attributed this to being heavier and older than she was during the show's prime, adding that she was not willing to "put a Lycra dress on" anymore.

Christina Applegate has multiple tattoos

Asked to reveal 25 things that people don't know about her to Us Weekly in 2012, Christina Applegate had a surprising admission. "I have six tattoos," she declared.

In 1999, a few years after Married... with Children went off the air, Christina Applegate actually discussed the significance of her ink. "They're all there to keep me grounded," she told People. Each tattoo, she explained, had special meaning. One was the name of her church, while another was the name of her mother. Other tattoos include a Hawaiian lei, the Om symbol, and a vine, which she said represented a close friendship. "And then I have a secret one that I don't talk about," she added cryptically.

Speaking with The Buffalo News, Applegate explained her "agape" tattoo is the name of her church but also "means unconditional love in Greek. .. it's more of a spiritual tattoo." She also revealed her Hawaii-themed tat depicted tea leaves. "Hawaiian warriors wore them off to battle and it would protect them against evil," she said. "My tattoos sort of reflect the things that are most important to me — protection, God, my mom."

This was Christina Applegate's favorite line in Friends

In addition to her role on Married... with Children, Christina Applegate can boast that she was a part of another iconic TV sitcom. As fans of Friends will remember, she guest-starred in the ninth and tenth seasons as Amy, a narcissistic sister of Jennifer Aniston's Rachel. "There are people who are really self-unaware, and they have absolutely no filter," Applegate told Today of the character.

Applegate recalled her favorite line was one that was actually written on the fly while the episode was being filmed in front of a live studio audience. In the scene, Amy continually identifies Lisa Kudrow's character, Phoebe, as Emma, leading Kudrow to keep correcting her. "And then she goes, 'Phoebe.' And I say, 'Why does she keep making that noise?'" said Applegate. "That was written as a rewrite in front of the audience, and I thought it was hilarious."

Playing Amy won Applegate the 2003 Emmy for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series, along with another nomination (but not a win) in the same category the following year. "It was shocking that I was nominated for the episodes I did because it honestly didn't feel like work," Applegate admitted. 

Christina Applegate is a breast cancer survivor

Christina Applegate's world was rocked in April 2008, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Later that year, the actress appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and revealed she had undergone a double mastectomy after being given the choice of treating the cancer with radiation — which carried a chance it could return (via CNN) — or removing her breasts. "It just seemed like, 'I don't want next year to have to deal with this again,'" she explained, adding, "I was just going to let them go."

In 2011, Applegate welcomed her first child, reported Us Weekly, daughter Sadie, becoming a first-time mother and cancer survivor at age 39. Several years later in 2017, Applegate revealed to Today that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a preventative measure, knowing she carried the "breast cancer gene," BRCA 1. "My cousin passed away from ovarian cancer in 2008. I could prevent that," she explained. "That's how I've taken control of everything. It's a relief. That's one other thing off the table. Now, let's hope I don't get hit by a bus."

How becoming a mother "healed" Christina Applegate

Becoming a first-time mom just years after undergoing a double mastectomy to beat breast cancer was a transformative experience for Christina Applegate. "I felt my heart literally open up for the first time and like wrap itself around her. It was profound," gushed Applegate in a People cover story shortly after welcoming daughter Sadie in 2011. "And I'm more in love with her every minute of the day."

Sadie's birth, explained Applegate, allowed her to move on from the disease that had become a dominant part of her life ever since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. "I've had to talk about that word [cancer] more than I've ever had to talk about a word in my life," she admitted.

According to Applegate, her newborn daughter led her to shift her focus and redefine herself as not just a cancer survivor, but a mom. "She's healed me in so many ways," said Applegate of her child. "She's just made my life so much better. She's opened my whole soul."

Why Dead to Me drew Christina Applegate out of "semi-retirement"

After starring in the short-lived sitcom Up All Night, which ran from 2011 to 2012, Christina Applegate spent the next few years focusing on film work, appearing in such big-screen comedies as Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesVacationBad Moms, and A Bad Moms Christmas

She returned to television with the 2019 debut of Netflix's Dead to Me, a dark comedy that she described to The Hollywood Reporter as a "traumedy," given that the show focuses on two women (Applegate and co-star Linda Cardellini) who meet at a support group for people grieving the loss of loved ones.

Asked about her decision to return to television, she admitted she had to be "dragged" out of "semi-retirement." She explained, "I was very happy with my kind of not showering life and doing what I want, and just raising my daughter." It was the show's "unique premise" and her relationship with series creator Liz Feldman, she explained, that lured her in. "I feel like if I'm going to be doing anything, if you're going to take me away from my [kid] for three months, it better be with an amazing group of people that are of quality and are kind, smart and interesting."

Christina Applegate felt a connection to Dead to Me

While Dead to Me is undeniably funny, the subject matter it navigates is as dark as it gets. That, Christina Applegate revealed in an interview with NPR's Fresh Air, was a big [part] of what drew her to the show in the first place. "There is always — in that darkest part of your life, you are trying to find the humor in life because you need some repose," she said. "It's people just trying to, like, have a minute away from all the pain that they're feeling."

As her character, Jen, grieves the recent death of her husband, she is purely in survival mode while attempting to come to grips with the devastating loss. "She's trying to keep her head above water, and there's a lot of shame in that," Applegate explained. 

As Applegate admitted, she's found herself in similar situations at points in her life, which allowed her to feel a deep connection to both the character and the subject matter. "I've had times in my life that were so incredibly painful, and I, in other people's eyes, wasn't dealing with it the way I should have dealt with it," she said.

Dead to Me led Christina Applegate into therapy

While Christina Applegate was able to forge a deep connection with the material while shooting Dead to Me, this did not come without a price. Speaking with Variety in 2019, Applegate shared that she drew on a painful loss from her own life while crafting her performance. "It tapped into some stuff that I had to face. It was cathartic," she admitted. "I don't know if [it was] therapeutic. Did I start therapy after I shot the show? Yes, absolutely." She went on, "To like finally talk about the stuff that hurt you in your life — and heal from that? I think it's really [a] beautiful thing."

Beyond taking a toll on her psyche, Applegate revealed that Dead to Me also pushed her to the limit physically — or at least one part of filming did. In one particular scene, Applegate's character performs a spirited Bob Fosse-style dance number that left some lingering repercussions.

"I was in traction for a week because I hadn't danced in 10 years before that day," confessed Applegate. "So it hurt. This old body? This 47-year-old body can't do it anymore."

Christina Applegate beat out some famous actresses for her Anchorman role

Among Christina Applegate's most memorable roles is newscaster Veronica Corningstone in 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. When the film's director, Adam McKay, was casting, Applegate was up against some heavy-hitting competition.

As McKay told Baller Status, Applegate's competition included Amy Adams, Leslie Mann, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. "Amy, at the time, looked like she was only 18. We couldn't cast her, even though she's awesome," McKay said. Regarding Gyllenhaal, he noted, "I said, [she] is going to win an Academy [Award] some day and you don't put Meryl Streep in a comedy." Applegate, he explained, "had that '50s wholesome thing that we wanted."

When Ferrell and McKay reunited for the 2013 sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Applegate returned to reprise the role. As she told ABC7 Eyewitness NewsAnchorman had become something of a cult favorite during the near-decade that passed since its release. "It seems like it keeps growing and growing and now like this younger generation of kids are seeing it, like the 15 year olds and the 14 year olds who were like little tykes when we first did it and they're getting obsessed with it and passing it on to their friends," she marveled.

The ways Christina Applegate battles insomnia

Like many people, sleep does not always come easy to Christina Applegate. In an interview with Self, she revealed she'd been battling insomnia for 20 years. "I could sleep a couple hours and then be up for four hours and then fall asleep again right before my alarm goes off," she told the magazine. "Some of the nights could be real rough." 

After partnering with the Why So Awake program, she came to realize that many of her struggles with insomnia were self-inflicted. She soon realized that certain things in her life had been supporting her insomnia and that her pre-bedtime rituals were actually sabotaging her ability to get a good night's sleep. 

Among the tricks she learned is to avoid news before bed. "I look at my phone, but I don't look at newsy stuff because I can't go there," she admitted. She also revealed she'd been listening to short sleep meditations. "The one I have is five minutes long, and it literally just puts you into a good state of shutting your brain and shutting down your body and preparing you for sleep," she explained.

Christina Applegate has gotten candid about motherhood

While promoting Bad Moms in 2016, the cast was asked by Bustle to share the best and worst parenting advice they ever received. During that conversation, Christina Applegate revealed her daughter, Sadie, was something of "a fatalist" when receiving news she doesn't want to hear. "I'm always like, 'I'm telling you right now, what you're feeling right now is frustrating, I'm frustrated too, Sadie, but there's so much good on the other side of this,'" she recounted. She shared that she tells her daughter to experience her feelings and act out if she feels the need but that things get better. "I'm trying to help her with that," she said.

As Applegate told Peopleit wasn't until she became a mother herself that she could fully comprehend what she'd put her own mom through. And that's led her to feeling regretful for how she'd behaved toward her when she was young. "I had no idea how much she loved me," she admitted. Clearly motherhood changes everything.