Christina Applegate Says Filming 'Dead to Me' Let Her Grieve MS Diagnosis: 'I Could Fall Apart'

“It was my soul actually falling apart, unfortunately, in front of the world, but it was cathartic in a beautiful way," Christina Applegate says of coping with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Christina Applegate attends the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Christina Applegate. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Christina Applegate is opening up about how work has allowed her to grieve her multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

On Thursday, the 51-year-old actress appeared virtually on The Kelly Clarkson Show and revealed that she typically uses her job as an actress to distract her from any of her real-life problems.

"I've probably been going through grief and trauma my whole life, and acting was the place that I got to go to not feel it, you know?" she said, noting that she used acting to avoid dealing with past breakups, trauma, deaths and breast cancer.

Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2021 while filming the third season of her Netflix dramedy Dead to Me. She admitted to Clarkson that, for the first time, going to work every day gave her the space to grieve, channeling the emotions behind her diagnosis into her character.

"The beauty of Dead to Me is that it gave me almost this weird platform of dealing with it, where I didn't have to be on all the time and I didn't have to make all the jokes and I could fall apart in a scene," Applegate explained. "And it was, like, me. It was my soul actually falling apart, unfortunately, in front of the world, but it was cathartic in a beautiful way."

The Bad Moms star said she also copes with the diagnosis with humor so others can treat her the same as before her MS was public.

"Yeah, my humor shields keep me OK, but, of course, down on the insides, you feel the things," she said on the show. "And I do it to kind of deflect and then also make people not be scared to be around me, you know? When people see me now as a disabled person, I want them to feel comfortable that we can laugh about it."

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In an interview with The New York Times last month, Applegate offered a candid perspective on MS, and how the disease has affected her career.

"There was the sense of, 'Well, let's get her some medicine so she can get better,'" she said, regarding her initial diagnosis. "And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time."

After her diagnosis, Dead to Me halted production so the actress could begin treatment. "It's not like I came on the other side of it, like, 'Woohoo, I'm totally fine,'" she told the Times. "Acceptance? No. I'm never going to accept this. I'm pissed."

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