The actress — who's long graced the screen, first as Kelly Bundy on Married… With Children and now as Jen Harding in Dead to Me — will be collecting her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 14. The ceremony, which was supposed to take place in 2020, will be the 50-year-old's first public appearance since she learned she has the disease of the central nervous system last year.
"Now my life is a different story," the actress told Variety. "People are going to see me for the first time as a disabled person, and it's very difficult. So, for me, two years ago would have been so much better!"
However, she paused and added, "But maybe this time it's more poignant. I don't know."
Applegate publicly shared her diagnosis in August 2021, saying she had learned of it a couple months earlier. At the time, she was filming the final season of Netflix's Dead to Me, and production was halted for five months so she could begin treatment.
"I got diagnosed while we were working," said Applegate, who serves as executive producer in addition to star. "I had to call everybody and be like, 'I have multiple sclerosis guys. Like, what the f***!'"
Completing work on the show "was as hard as you would possibly think it would be," she said, noting she couldn't walk and needed a wheelchair to get to set. She was also so tired that she needed sleep breaks to get through the day. "It was about kind of learning — all of us learning — what I was going to be capable of doing."
The cast — including co-star Linda Cardellini who plays Jen's ride-or-die Judy Hale — and crew rallied around her to complete the project after producers floated the idea of pulling the plug on the show.
"It was like torture — and they felt like they were torturing me, too," Applegate explained. "But I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no: We have to finish this story... We've got to let [fans] their closure too.' So, if that meant me having to take a break in the middle of the day so I could go sleep — or me just leaving because I couldn't do anymore — then that's what we had to do."
Will Ferrell, her Anchorman co-star and EP of Dead to Me, told the outlet, "The words that come to mind are grit, fearlessness, passion" as well as "a funny mother eff'n badass."
The final season of Dead to Me premieres Nov. 17 — and Applegate is getting questions about her future as an actress.
"I'm pretty convinced that this was it, you know?" she said, suggesting it's her final on-camera role. She's not ruling it out, she explained, but her body has limitations. For instance, she can only work five-hour days, which is not the norm as a TV leading lady.
"I'm just a newbie to all of this," she said. "I'm trying to figure it out — and I'm also in mourning for the person that I was."
And even if she pauses or stops acting altogether, she can still work. Ahead in development is an animated version of Married …With Children for which she would lend her voice. She also wants to continue producing, saying she had many ideas. At the moment however, she's enjoying devoting "100%" of her time to her 11-year-old daughter, Sadie, with her musician husband Martyn LeNoble.
And she's mentally preparing for her big star ceremony. Last month, she revealed that she had ordered stylish new walking sticks for the big day because she can't walk without a cane. She's also previously revealed that she's gained weight — the last thing she should be worried about, but something she wanted to preemptively say in this era of social media criticism.
Applegate, who began acting at age 5, has been nominated for Emmys (winning one in 2003 for her guest role on Friends) and Golden Globes, but the upcoming star ceremony is something extra special to her.
It means "leaving your mark" she said. "This is something that is going to be there forever. And it's something my daughter can go see when I'm gone."