Christina Applegate is still a gorgeous and luminous presence. A huge star following Married with Children, it has taken the funny and sexy blonde some time to re-establish herself. These days, she’s as busy as ever, with several films due out, from the dark Wonderland, to Anchorman, starring Will Ferrell.
Christina Applegate, born in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving Day, 1971, had her acting debut as an infant in her mother’s arms as Mum played her regular role on the Soap, “Days of Our Lives.” Roles in commercials and TV shows followed until, at age fifteen, Applegate was cast as the sexy, ditsy blond, Kelly Bundy, on “Married with Children.” She dropped out of school at seventeen to devote more time to her blossoming career, and when the show ended after a ten year run, she focused on a film career, meeting with increasing success. She also starred in the TV series, Jesse, as a smart and sexy single mother, then teamed up with Cameron Diaz in The Sweetest Thing. Applegate married her longtime companion, Johnathon Schaech, in October, 2001 and now lives in Los Angeles with her new husband, two cats and a dog.
It was on the set of Anchorman, a 70s-set comedy in which she plays TV’s few female TV news anchors in a male dominated world, that Paul Fischer caught up with Applegate, who talked marriage, stardom and comedy in a wide-ranging interview.
Question: What three things are you good at?
Answer: What am I good at? I don’t know! I’m a good swimmer, I’m a good dancer and I can make a mean cup of coffee.
Question: And you’re a good actress.
Answer: Well, yeah, and then there’s that.
Question: You’re obviously good at comedy. Do people expect you to be funny all the time?
Answer: No, it never gets boring to do what I do for a living, you know.
Question: So few actresses can get a script and make it it’s not, while you’re one of them, so what’s the trick?
Answer: I think that there’s something I learned many many moons ago is never ever take yourself seriously, and that comedy is tragedy. So, as much as you can take a real situation and look at it from an ironic point of view, that’s the trick to the whole thing. Because human beings are funny, human nature is funny.
Question: What’s funny about this character that you’re playing in Anchorman then?
Answer: She is so dedicated to her goal and to me when people aren’t in their surroundings that they’re only focused on something that’s in the future and they will do anything to get that. That makes me laugh. She is funny to me because she is so determined that she will knock you out to get what she wants. And then she gets what she wants and she realizes like most people that what she really wants is love, right?
Question: Do you relate to that?
Answer: Um! No. Because I think that I learned a long time ago that that’s the most important thing: Love and living your life.
Question: What is it about love?
Answer: Love makes the world go round.
Question: Is love much more a priority in your life than what it was?
Answer: Absolutely! What are you going to do when you have everything that you want. You’ve worked every day of your life, you get to the end of your life and you go these are all the things I have and this is all the things I’ve done and yet you don’t have love you don’t have experience you don’t have all of that. What do you have? Nothing.
Question: What about children?
Answer: Children, nothing.
Question: Do you want children?
Answer: Yes I absolutely do want children
Question: Any time soon? < laughter>
Answer: I need a break man, I’m gonna take a little break. This has been a long year so I gonna take a break.
Question: It’s been a long year it’s been a long career altogether so
Answer: There’s that too but it actually been quite a long year, since last November.
Question: You have a couple of great movies coming up ?
Answer: Well, we’ll see if they’re great. I’ve done five, yeah.
Question: Can you talk about them in order?
Answer: What? In order? Um in order of what I filmed them in order “
Question: How good they are!
Answer: That I can’t tell you because I haven’t seen any of them. I can’t even tell you if this one is good yet till I’ve seen it then I can go. Well.. actually a clear indication that this is going to be good is that it the dailies have become like a day event to the company that’s producing this movie. So everyone wants to go see them because it’s so much fun to watch.
Question: If you get the press laughing at one of these set visits you’re on a good thing.
Answer: Yeah. And then I’m like you because I don’t laugh at anything and I’m constantly laughing here. I would see it, OK? First there’s Wonderland! I only worked a couple of days. I was there for about two or three days. I played Susan Launius, the only women who survives the attack in the house and I begged the director to let me be in the film.
Answer: I grew up a block away from the murders and I was living in the canyon when the house was attacked.
Question: That must have been strange.
Answer: It was awesome, I mean it was so eerie and it was such an intense set it was amazing to be there so that was a fun one for me, a no brainer I heard it’s good. Pretty darn good, pretty intense. I then did this film with Johnny Knoxsville called Grand Theft Parsons which we’ll see. I haven’t seen it so I can’t really say? What else Surviving Christmas with Ben Affleck, then I did this quick indie film, Employee of the Month , with Matt Dillon movie and Steve Zahn.
Question: Who do you play in Surviving Christmas?
Answer: I play the daughter of the family that he rents, sort of his nemesis slash lusty desire.
Question: So what was it like working with him?
Answer: It was fantastic. I love Ben .He is the nicest person, he has this amazing brain and he’s very funny and he’s really professional and a good person all the way round.
Question: So I guess except Wonderland you had to be the funny girl in all the movies, am I right?
Answer: I don’t know. I think I always end up being funny I think you can have humor in drama as well.
Question: I am surprised that you’re not as big a star as you should be or deserve to be. Is that something you’re surprised about since you’ve had a really amazing career?
Answer: I’d rather have a long career rather than have a good two year career and so for me this has just been fine, you know what I mean? I’d rather do that than be the person that everyone goes “Jesus Christ if I see them on another cover of a magazine I’m going to vomit. If I see them on ‘E’ one more time I’m going to be sick. I really don’t care what their wearing because my god she wore that last month”; anybody who has over exposure. I think that I would rather be who I am where you can always reinvent yourself and rediscover yourself rather than be that, although monetarily it is much better to be on the A list. [Laughter]
Question: You never get the millions, despite the fact that you’re a name. Does that bother you?
Answer: Oh, I’ll get my 15 million, don’t you worry.
Question: Oh I’m pretty sure you will deserve it as much as other certain blonde stars.
Answer: Yes, but look at what they’ve done. People who are making fifteen million have made companies two hundred million, they deserve what they are getting. You know that’s the deal now days you know money, movies are making more money therefore actors are making more money. Also it’s become a media industry so more of your privacy is being taken away so you’re being compensated for that too, so I think that it’s all good. The ones that are out there doing it are deserving it and you know those of us that are standing back here you know with sweat and dirt under our fingernails are doing just fine too.
Question: Was it hard to escape Kelly in Married with Children?
Answer: No not at all. I don’t know, for everybody else I guess it’s hard. for me it never has been. If it was hard for me I would probably be under a bridge somewhere like you know drinking out of a paper bag. but I’m not.
Question: When they had the reunion show recently was that a nice experience going back?
Answer: Fantastic experience. It was really nice to see everybody. I mean those people raised me you know and it was just it was nice to give our audience you know the people their still our audience. I think that’s the thing this question comes up as much as it does is that here’s a show that’s still on four times a day and known internationally whatever, but here when you turn on the television it’s one every single day four times a day. And so you’re constantly reminded and those of you who may not of seen anything else that I’ve ever done that’s all you know. So, that’s cool and I can’t, you know, fight that.
Question: What’s the challenge of working with veteran comics like Will Ferrell as against Affleck, who’s not a natural comedian?
Answer: Well I mean contrary to popular belief Ben Affleck is one of the funniest people I’ve ever come across my entire life. So, actually you should know he’s not serious Mr Posy guy whatever, you know. He is a silly, silly man. So there you go.
Question: And Will of course is very serious?
Answer: He’s not serious, just a little unassuming. Will’s not a comedian and I don’t want to generalize with comedians but you find a lot of comedians who come into film or into this environment that there’s a need for attention constantly. Will is a true artist who is constantly thinking, he has a brain which just does not stop working and he’s very respectful and quiet and lovely and then the camera turns on and he’s just a whacko and it’s fantastic to watch. And I’ve learned so much from him because I’m not a comedy improv person and the entire cast comes from comedy improv.
Question: Are you learning about improvisation?
Answer: See we have this argument every day. I always like ‘Adam, don’t make me improv this way”. But you can do it. Because comedy improv is so different, you know, it’s thinking outside the box. You think improving is one thing but when it’s got to be funny then it’s an objective thing and, you know, and sometimes it’s just not sometimes is really horrible..
Question: Did it make you nervous the first time you did improvisation?
Answer: Well, I’ve done it my whole, I mean for years, but this is a team that every, you know, every scene we do the scene you know the takes that were doing from the script, and it’s you know, it’s by rote and then there’s always a couple of takes there’s like you guys just do whatever you want and that’s when my nails go into the side of the chair and I think whatever I want ‘my god, ok, let’s go’ and then sometimes magic happens and sometimes you know .
Question: Do you like the challenge?
Answer: I love the challenge. If every thing was easy it wouldn’t be any fun. I’m learning so much now that I can say, you know, I’ve done a lot of this in my life.
Question: What are you going to do in your time off?
Answer: What time off?
Question: Didn’t you say you where having a break after?
Answer: Oh! After this. I am going to go right after this to reprise my role in Friends that I did last year.
Question: What can you say about that?
Answer: What can I say about that!
Question: Are you in it for the money, for the fun?
Answer: No! For the fun. It’s the last year of Friends and I was lucky enough to be nominated for an Emmy for my role last year and I feel like it’s my duty to go back and reprise the role. for the last year of the show.
Question: So that’s what you call time off.
Answer: That’s my time off. I’m doing that and then the rest of the year I’m hopefully gonna take time off unless something really incredible comes along.
Question: Make a baby?
Answer: I don’t know. We’ll see, we’ll see.
Question: You say you’re certain about wanting children, and now your career is on the verge of it’s second wind.
Answer: You can never surge but you can have a nice little gradual calm, you know. I can go hide, that’s what I like about it, I can hide my career. I can go work a little bit and I can go hide, I don’t have people following me in my big car.
Question: Publicity is much more invasive now, than when you did Married with Children. Does that make you want to hide as well?
Answer: I don’t know, because the first time around I didn’t really do any publicity, so I didn’t really know the effect we were having on people. That’s why I think we all kinda turned out OK because we didn’t really go out there and feel the effects of what was going on.
Question: Why is that?
Answer: Well, I was very anti everything. I was anti establishment, commercialism, everything when I was a teenager, so I sort of wanted to stay away from, from, the media and I think in the end it probably saved my life.
Question: Was it a good thing, then, to stay away from the media?
Answer: I think it absolutely was. Probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Question: Since Anchorman is set in the late 70s, do you remember anything of that time, or were you too young to remember?
Answer: No, I remember, because this is like seventy three and
Question: Can you relate to that time?
Answer: I wasn’t even born yet. ha! ha! ha!.
Question: See that’s why I asked you the question in a nice way, so you don’t remember!
Answer: Look, pop culture was pop culture.
Question: Did you have to fight for acceptance at one point in your career?
Answer: No, I was too tired to fight. . I’m always too tired.
Question: Would you ever want to work with your husband?
Answer: You know, I think that just such a fine line and it doesn’t always work and I think that I would love to work with him, I mean we’ve done scenes in our acting class together and that’s wonderful, you know, I love that but I don’t, it would have to be the right thing and I don’t even know what that would be and I don’t think I would wanna have us bee in a relationship in the movie. I would like….
Question: You would like to work with him at producing something?
Answer: Oh, absolutely. He’s doing a lot of writing right now and you know, his films are going to be put together and I would love to be, you know, part of that.
Question: He’s had a bizarre career and he was so sort of the next big thing for so long and that didn’t quiet happen. I mean, s how difficult is it, you know, when one of you is on a really good roll and the other may be not?
Answer: I kinda don’t know if I even want to answer that question because I think that not appropriate for … I don’t want to bring him into my conversations. Nothing’s ever been a problem, really. Our relationship’s so separate from our work life and it doesn’t come up and we don’t really talk about it.
Question: In terms of your peers, who do you really rate as your competition?
Answer: My competition? I am so happy for anyone’s happiness and anyone’s good fortune that I can’t, I can’t tell you that I’m in competition with anyone. Were all so unique and different, when it comes down to it, when you auditioning to something, it’s not about whose right, you can’t be upset about that. You don’t get something that you want, because they just happen to be more right. Whatever that is, eye color, appealing. Yeah, you can’t take it personally or you will drive yourself insane. So as far as I’m concerned my goals are on their level, you know, their doing their thing and it’s awesome and I’m so happy for all of them.