Emma Caulfield reveals her MS diagnosis, but she’s ‘not crumbling under the fear’
Emma Caulfield, who’s known for her work in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and most recently Marvel’s “WandaVision,” announced that she has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2010.
In an interview with Vanity Fair published Tuesday, the actor, 49, revisited her first flareup, the official diagnosis and why she kept quiet about her condition for so long.
“I was working on Marti Noxon’s ‘Gigantic,’ and prior to starting that job, I woke up one morning and the left side of my face felt like there were a million ants crawling on it,” she recalled for Vanity Fair.
After experiencing that first symptom in 2010, Caulfield said she went to her acupuncturist, who said she might have Bell’s palsy and suggested she get an MRI for an official diagnosis. A neurologist also said she might be dealing with Bell’s palsy because of the stress she was facing at the time.
“That was literally the year of hell for me,” Caulfield said. “There was so much going on. Really bad personal life stuff. So I said, ‘Yeah, that’s probably it.’”
The actor, who said her late father lived with MS, received the MRI results and official diagnosis while she was shooting a scene. When the doctor said she had multiple sclerosis, Caulfield said she was initially in denial.
“‘No, that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?,’” she said. “[The doctor] was very matter of fact about it.”
For Caulfield, the diagnosis “was literally a kind of nightmare.”
After consulting with medical experts, Caulfield kept her diagnosis on the down-low, save for a few trustworthy loved ones, and began treatment while taking acting jobs.
“I knew in my bones that if you talk about this, you’re just going to stop working. That’s it,” she said. “And no one had been really vocal…. The only reference points I had for anybody who was out there were Montel Williams and Annette Funicello from The Mickey Mouse Club.”
Funicello revealed her MS diagnosis in 1992. She died in 2013 at 70.
In the interview, Caulfield said she “felt tired” shooting “WandaVision” in Atlanta and Los Angeles in 2020, noting that heat exacerbated her condition.
“I got really weak. I just went into survival mode and I remember having to be outside…. It was just unfortunate timing really,” she added. “But I was very, very uncomfortable, and no one knew. I said nothing. And I paid the price for that.”
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.While filming the series, she said she was concerned about coming off as “one of those high-maintenance actors who’s miserable,” when the director (who was not aware of her diagnosis) noticed that she was not looking well.
“This is the first time you’re working with Marvel. This is a big f— deal,” Caulfield remembered telling herself. “Do not bring attention to yourself. I have to nail the job. I have to be great. Be memorable.”
Later in the interview, the actor said that she has another gig as “WandaVision’s” Dottie Jones lined up for the Disney+ spinoff series “Agatha: Coven of Chaos,” where she will appear opposite Kathryn Hahn.
The versatile actress loved every minute of her battle scenes hanging from wires and launching energy balls. “I never wanted to come down.”
Unwilling to “put myself through what I did with ‘WandaVision,’” Caulfield said “everyone has been notified that needs to be notified” of her condition.
Why did Caulfield decide to reveal her MS diagnosis after the fact? “I’m so tired of not being honest,” she said.
“My daughter has changed my perspective, as I think anybody who is a parent can attest,” she added. “I know that she has a 30% greater chance of coming down with this, just luck of the draw for her.”
‘Introducing, Selma Blair,’ directed by Rachel Fleit, chronicles the ‘Cruel Intentions’ actor’s journey with multiple sclerosis.
The actor said it’s better to be vocal about her condition and help bring attention to research organizations such as the MS Foundation. Finally breaking her silence a decade after her diagnosis, Caulfield said she’s “okay right now.”
“It’s a weird thing to say when you’re given a diagnosis like that, but truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of “what if” or “what can,” or “what has” for other people,” she added. “I just have to keep going.”
Selma Blair, who has multiple sclerosis, ditched her cane for her first ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Viennese waltz with partner Sasha Farber.
Shortly after the Vanity Fair piece dropped, Caulfield answered questions about her diagnosis on an Instagram Live on Tuesday. She praised Selma Blair, who has also been vocal about her battle with MS, as an “absolute goddess” and “inspiration.” Blair has been heating up the “Dancing With the Stars” floor. When the series returned for its 31st season in September, the “Cruel Intentions” star brought judges, fellow contestants and audiences to tears with her debut dance routine.
At the end of her Instagram Live session, Caulfield repeated that she won’t let her condition stop her from moving forward with her life.
“I’m just going to keep on keeping on, and be an advocate for people who have this condition,” she said on Instagram. “And be an advocate for myself instead of hiding.”
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