Christina Applegate missed out on a SAG Award for her role in black comedy Dead to Me at Sunday’s ceremony, but that wasn’t why it was a bittersweet night for the star. Applegate, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while filming the third and final season of the show in 2021, has said it will likely be the last awards show she attends as an actor. “Right now, I couldn’t imagine getting up at 5 a.m. and spending 12 to 14 hours on a set,” she told the LA Times in an interview earlier this month. “I don’t have that in me at this moment.”
That the much-loved comedy actor has hinted at an end to her lengthy on-screen career—which brought us such memorable characters as Rachel’s spoiled sister Amy on Friends, Anchorman’s Veronica Corningstone, and (my personal favorite) Sue Ellen Crandall in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead—made Applegate’s appearance on the red carpet that much more poignant.
So too, Applegate’s chosen plus-one for the occasion, her 11-year-old daughter Sadie Grace, and the walking stick she used to help her navigate the red carpet, complete with a sticker that read: “F U MS.” Multiple sclerosis is a condition that can affect the brain and the spinal cord, and side effects can include difficulties with vision, balance, arm and leg movement and sensation. It’s around four times more common in women than in men, according to Johns Hopkins.
The 51-year-old star has spoken openly about her diagnosis, which saw production on Dead to Me shut down for five months as Applegate began treatment. “There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better,’” she told the New York Times last November, as the final season was about to arrive on Netflix. “And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time.”
The defiant message on the star’s cane on Sunday night reflects her admission at the time that the period did not bring about a sense of acceptance. “… It’s not like I came on the other side of it, like, ‘Woohoo, I’m totally fine.’ Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed.”
Amidst all the diamonds and couture that are typical of the red carpet, Applegate’s simple message—and her bravery and candor in the face of a life-altering health condition—stood out.