Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Christina Applegate Retires From On-Screen Acting Due to MS

Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

On November 14, 2022, Christina Applegate made her first public appearance since announcing her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in early 2021. Just a few months later we learned that she is retiring from on-screen acting due to her health. Read on for more about Applegate’s journey with MS.

A touching ‘Married… with Children’ reunion on the Walk of Fame

In 2021, Applegate received a life-altering diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, or MS. The disease affects the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord, causing inflammation and disruptions to the electrical messages in the brain that can impair walking, vision, and emotional well-being.

Applegate was honored with a Walk of Fame ceremony led by her Married…with Children co-stars, David Faustino and Katey Sagal, who shared an emotional statement with Applegate: “You’re not alone. We’re all here.” Co-star Linda Cardellini and creator Liz Feldman, who work with Applegate on her Netflix series Dead to Me, also paid tribute to the star.

David Faustino, Katey Sagal, and Christina Applegate at the Walk of Fame ceremony
David Faustino, Katey Sagal, and Christina Applegate pose with Christina Applegate’s star during her Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony. (Photo Credit: Phillip Faraone / Getty Images)

Then, it was Applegate’s turn to take the podium. She arrived barefoot, which she explained on Twitter: “For some with MS the feeling of shoes may hurt or make us feel off balance. So today I was me. Barefoot.” During her speech, the actress talked about her difficult diagnosis and the people who mean the most to her, especially her 11-year-old daughter Sadie Grace LeNoble:

“The most important person in this world is my daughter.” Applegate teared up as she talked. “You are so much more than even you know. You are so beautiful and kind and smart and interesting. I’m blessed every day that I get to wake up and take you to school… thank you for standing by me through all of this.”

She also addressed fans who attended the ceremony as “gorgeous… Every single one of you. I love you [all] so much.”

MS isn’t Applegate’s first health battle

Born and bred in Hollywood, Applegate rose to fame with her breakout role as Kelly Bundy in the 1987 sitcom Married… with Children. She soon started to book parts alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Applegate played Cameron Diaz’s best friend in The Sweetest Thing (2002) and appeared alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in A View From the Top (2003).

Christina Applegate in 1993
Christina Applegate in 1993. (Photo Credit: Harry Langdon / Getty Images)

Applegate also loves dance and has studied jazz for most of her life, something that her recent diagnosis threatens to take away. MS isn’t her first health battle. In 2008, Applegate had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since been an advocate for breast cancer research and awareness alongside other celebrity survivors like Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Somers.

Behind-the-scenes struggles

Ahead of her Walk of Fame ceremony, Applegate talked with Variety about her life since her MS diagnosis – including filming the third and final season of Dead to Me. Applegate said she was diagnosed during filming: “I had to call everybody and be like, ‘I have multiple sclerosis guys…And then it was about kind of learning – all of us learning – what I was going to be capable of doing.”

Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate
Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in Dead to Me. (Photo Credit: Netflix / michaella92 / MovieStillsDB)

Working on set was a struggle for Applegate, who was “sleeping all the time,” and could barely walk during filming, even using a wheelchair to get to set. When talks of ending the show started, Applegate gave a rallying cry to save it. “I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no: We have to finish this story. It’s too important to our hearts; too important to our souls. And we have to give this gift, not only to ourselves – there are people that love these characters, and we’ve got to let them have their closure too.'”

The last episode of Dead to Me aired on November 17, 2022. “People are going to see me for the first time as a disabled person, and it’s very difficult,” said Applegate. The actress never let MS get in the way of achieving her goals, including this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a star on the iconic Walk of Fame, even if it means making some adjustments.

Ahead of the ceremony, Applegate teased fans with a picture of canes that would be a part of her first public event since her MS diagnosis.

She shared retirement news in May 2023

Christina Applegate announced her retirement from on-camera acting after the conclusion of Dead to Me. She discussed her decision with Vanity Fair in May of 2023 and also reflected on her experience filming the final season alongside Linda Cardellini.

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini attend an event
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini attend FYC Netflix Event Rebels And Rule Breakers at Netflix FYSEE at Raleigh Studios on June 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Applegate expressed her admiration for Cardellini, describing her as an exceptional actress and an extraordinary individual. She also mentioned that she doesn’t foresee herself taking on any more on-screen roles. She said, “Ping-pong is so much more fun when the other person is just as good as you are. I’m probably not going to work on-camera again, but I’m so glad that I went out with someone who is by far the greatest actress I’ve ever worked with in my entire life, if not the greatest human I’ve ever known.”

Despite her decision to step away from on-camera acting, Applegate will reprise her role as Kelly Bundy in an animated version of Married… With Children, alongside original cast members Katey Sagal, Ed O’Neill, and David Faustino.

She lives “kind of in hell”

Applegate joined Good Morning America in her first on-camera sit-down interview since her diagnosis in 2021, where she made an intimate confession. “I live kind of in hell,” she explained, speaking about living with MS. “I’m not out a lot, so this is a little difficult, just for my system. But of course, the support is wonderful and I’m really grateful.”

Headshots of Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Christina Applegate.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Christina Applegate have started their own podcast together. (Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images and Amy Sussman / WireImage / Getty Images)

The interview also included Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who has been living with the disease for two decades now. The pair developed a strong friendship after Applegate was advised by friend Lance Bass to reach out to Sigler following her diagnosis, and Sigler said she was eager to help out. “I wanted to give her tools and things that I’ve learned that have helped me,” she said.

They said that MS has brought them together, which has been its own blessing. “We have each other and that’s helped us so much,” Applegate said. Now, the pair have started their own podcast called “MeSsy,” but they want listeners to know that it is not a podcast exclusively about MS.

“It’s not about the specific experience we’re having,” Sigler says. “It’s us facing something hard and it’s about figuring out how to still push through. I’ve never been more … nervous isn’t the word, but like a good anxious about any project I’ve ever put out more than this, because I care so deeply about it. We are sharing the deepest parts of ourselves.”

Applegate explained her brain damage caused by MS

Sitting down with Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast, Applegate explained what is physically happening to her brain following her MS diagnosis. “I have 30 lesions on my brain, like, herpes sores, basically, so sores all over my brain. My biggest one is behind my right eye, so my right eye hurts a lot,” she said.

Headshot of Christina Applegate.
Christina Applegate described the brain damage caused by MS. (Photo Credit: VALERIE MACON / AFP / Getty Images)

These lesions can present themselves differently in each individual person who suffers from MS, and for Applegate, she said they often make her feel off. She also said that hey can trigger something she calls a tremor. “My hand starts to go weird and then I’ll get a seizure-y feeling sometimes in my brain, not all the time.”

More from us: Jane Fonda Admits She’s ‘Not Afraid’ of Death After Cancer Diagnosis: ‘I’m Ready’

One thing Applegate said she is no longer going to do is lie about how she feels. For her, having MS sucks. “It’s the worst tattoo,” she said. “It sucks. I’m not gonna sit here and… some people go, ‘Oh my god, cancer’s the best thing that happened to me!’ And I’m like, ‘Uhh, then you had a pretty s—-y life.'” She is being completely honest about how this disease makes her feel. “This is the worst thing that’s happened to me in my entire life. I hate it so much. I’m so mad about it.”

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast