Christina Applegate is no stranger to the Emmys.
The actress won for her guest-starring role on Friends in 2003, was nominated again the following year, and had back-to-back noms for Samantha Who? in 2008 and 2009.
But even she admits that Dead to Me, about two women (played by her and Linda Cardellini) drawn together by grief, feels like a special experience. Applegate, who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on Tuesday, talked to EW about about Me, dropping F-bombs, and that massive cliffhanger that ended season 1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you watch the nominations live?
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE: No, I was lying in bed with my daughter and my phone was off, my ringer was off. I was just lying there with her, hanging out. I wouldn’t have even known my phone was ringing because the ringer was off, but [Dead to Me producer] Jessica Elbaum was calling me and I was like, “Ohhhhhh, that’s why.” It wasn’t on my radar because I didn’t think it was going to happen.
This performance is so incredible to me. Does it feel special to you?
A part like this doesn’t come around for someone like myself very often, so Liz [Feldman, the show’s creator] entrusting me to go to those places was something I needed to do just for my soul, and also just like, “Let’s go there.” That coupled with great writing and my beautiful costars as well, it just felt very different. I had to go waaaay raw. [Laughs]
Your delivery of “F—!” is one of my favorite parts of the show.
[Laughs] When there’s that many f—s on a page, you have to revisit them with a lot of different intention, you know what I mean? Each one had its own life. I was like, “Liz, are you sure I’m saying ‘f—’ again? Am I flipping off my own child in this scene? Yes, I am.”
Grief is such a weird, unique experience. Have you found that people react strongly to it?
It definitely has resonated with people on many different levels, like everyone has taken something away from it unique to them and their story. I don’t get out of the house much so I’m not seeing the kind of effect this has had, but I was somewhere and this woman stopped me and she started crying. For Linda and myself, there were so many personal things about it as well. Grief is messy and the world wants you to stop grieving when it’s inconvenient for the world, and these characters are kind of unapologetic about how they’re grieving and it’s messy and it’s raw and it’s dark and it’s funny. All of those things. We’ve all been in those places when we’re in our dark spots. Everyone is like, “Okay, I need you to buck up now.” And you’re like, “I can’t! I don’t know how to!”
Do you have a favorite moment this past season? Or one you’re really proud of?
I think there were a couple of scenes that were the most challenging for Linda and myself, and one of them was when we go to confront Bambi [Olivia Macklin]. That was a 10-page scene, and we shot it at one point like a play. For me, I was freaking out for days before. Ten pages and you have to go from, like, 0 to 60 and back again, all within one sitting. We were just proud of ourselves that we made it through. [Laughs] But I think the scene that hits the deepest level and was a long night was the confession scene between Judy [Cardellini] and Jen [Applegate] because it had to go so many places and it was a long scene between two humans talking. I think for both of us it was a difficult scene, and one of those that was like, “Whew. Okay, we got through that one.”
Season 1 ends on a massive cliffhanger. Do you know where it’s going in season 2?
Yes, and I can never say until it comes out next year. [Laughs] But I do know.