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Christina Applegate, a ‘dark kid,’ used Kelly Bundy and strong roles to craft a comedic career

Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The Internet Movie Database is one of the most popular websites for tracking the work of actors, filmmakers and others in the movie and TV world. We’ve asked some actors to look at their own IMDB page and comment on some of their best-known roles. 

When Christina Applegate was cast as Kelly Bundy on the now-iconic sitcom “Married With Children,” the actress was incredibly introspective and shy and never intended to pursue comedy. “I was a dark kid,” Applegate reflects. “I always thought serious projects were going to be my jam. But the show really helped me to let go of being so serious all the time.” Now Applegate is known for her self-assured, hilarious characters, most of whom are notably strong women.

“If I look back over everything I think the through line is in strong characters with ambition,” Applegate says.

Over the last several decades, the actress has explored her comedic abilities in films like “Anchorman” and “Vacation.” Her latest project is “Bad Moms,” in theaters July 29, which lets Applegate don the mantle of villain — something that is unusual in her filmography. She’s attracted to these sorts of project for a very simple reason. “I love a good dirty joke,” the actress admits. Here Applegate remembers some of her best-known work.

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Standing are Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo in a scene from “Bad Moms.”
Standing are Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo in a scene from “Bad Moms.”
(STX Productions )

“Bad Moms,” Gwendolyn (2016)

“I’m a mom. We’re living in this society that puts so much pressure on us to be perfect and the whole premise of the movie is if one day you just go ‘I can’t be perfect.’ It’s about the judgment of moms on other moms. I loved being able to play this incredibly evil woman who represents a lot things you see out there in the world from these very type-A moms who have a lot of judgment.” 

Skyler Gisondo as James Griswold, Steele Stebbins as Kevin Griswold, Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold and Christina Applegate as Debbie Griswold in New Line Cinema’s comedy movie “Vacation.”
Skyler Gisondo as James Griswold, Steele Stebbins as Kevin Griswold, Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold and Christina Applegate as Debbie Griswold in New Line Cinema’s comedy movie “Vacation.”
(Hopper Stone / Warner Bros. )

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“Vacation,” Debbie Griswold (2015)

“You never know how something is going to turn out when you’re shooting it and when I first saw that movie I laughed harder than I’d laughed in a long time. I know some people didn’t like it, which is totally fine, but I really appreciated what they put together. We had the most fun in the mud. It was so fun and so gross at the same time.”  

Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate is Veronica Corningstone in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
Will Ferrell is Ron Burgundy and Christina Applegate is Veronica Corningstone in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
(Gemma LaMana / Paramount )

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” Veronica Corningstone (2013)

“At that time, ‘Anchorman’ was my favorite job I’d ever done and one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life, so when we all saw each other in Atlanta … the love was so big. Veronica is such a great character and so beautifully written by Adam McKay. Oftentimes the female roles in these dude comedies aren’t fully realized, and he created this really interesting character and gave me the freedom to bring what I wanted to her.”

Christina Applegate in “Samantha Who?”
Christina Applegate in “Samantha Who?”
(Randy Holmes / ABC )

“Samantha Who?,” Samantha (2007-2009)

“I loved that show. When they canceled us I laid in bed for three days crying. I was so insanely sad. But I always tell [costar] Melissa [McCarthy], ‘I’m grateful it was canceled because the world really gets to see you now.’ If it was still going I don’t think she would have gotten the opportunities she’s gotten to have.” 

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The anchors in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” include Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate, seated center), lead anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell, far right), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), left, Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
The anchors in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” include Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate, seated center), lead anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell, far right), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), left, Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
(Darren Michaels )

“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” Veronica Corningstone (2004)

“It was considered a disappointment opening weekend. We thought ‘Oh man, darn it.’ But as it got out of theaters and people got ahold of the DVD it just seemed to grow this huge audience. It’s now such a loveable movie and I even quote it myself sometimes. ‘Milk was a bad choice’ is something that I say often.”

“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” Sue Ellen Crandell (1991)

“It is the most surprising thing to me that people still talk about this movie. It was the first time I’d taken the lead in something. I didn’t know how it was going to be received. It was a complete and utter flop. But people tell me to this day that it’s their favorite movie and quote it to me, like ‘I’m right on top of that, Rose.’”

Christina Applegate, top left, plays Kelly Bundy on “Married With Children.” Also pictured are Katey Sagal, Ed O’Neill, and David Faustino.
Christina Applegate, top left, plays Kelly Bundy on “Married With Children.” Also pictured are Katey Sagal, Ed O’Neill, and David Faustino.
(Fox )
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”Married With Children,” Kelly Bundy (1987-1997)

“We turned the table on the traditional sitcom. The third season is when we started to realize that it was gaining momentum. We were the black sheep of Fox at the time. We were left alone to our own accord to do what we wanted to do and I think that’s why we were able to get away with as much as we could. Although we had one episode that we couldn’t even show. It was so tame compared with what’s on TV today, but we called it the ‘Lost Episode’ and it never was shown.” 

“Jaws of Satan,” Kim Perry (1981)

“That is a real piece of cinema, let me tell you. It’s a movie about a killer snake. I don’t really remember much about it and I never saw it. We were in Alabama and my mom was in it for a minute too. I got bit by the snake and that’s about all I remember.”


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