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Why Christina Applegate Started Therapy After Filming Netflix’s ‘Dead to Me’

The cast of the new Netflix trauma-dy, “Dead to Me,” came out to support the season one premiere of the series at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Thursday night, but everyone seemed to have movies on their minds.

“It’s been a crazy three weeks,” said Linda Cardellini, who had back-to-back movie premieres for “The Curse of La Llorona” and, of course, “Avengers: Endgame,” which has already emerged as the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time. “I think this word sometimes is overused, but that movie truly is epic,” Cardellini told Variety. “To be a part of that at all is incredible.”

Ex-X-Man James Marsden, meanwhile, talked about next month’s release of “Dark Phoenix,” which retells the same story of star-crossed mutants as “X-Men: The Last Stand,” in which he played Cyclops and Famke Jansen portrayed Jean Gray. “I obviously know the Dark Phoenix story — the saga was close to me because my character is closest with Jean,” Marsden told Variety. “It’s cool to see a Sophie Turner up there kicking ass as the young version of Jean.”

But how does Marsden, who is still remarkably young looking for 45, feel about the young version of Cyclops, now played by 22-year-old Tye Sheridan. “He wrote me a handwritten letter when he took over the role,” said Marsden. “A lovely young man. They’re giving [the storyline] the justice it deserves.”

Christina Applegate, who also serves as one of the show’s executive producers along with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, teased a potentially reunion for “Anchorman 3.” “Ask Will,” she told Variety. “I think everyone’s kind of doing stuff their own stuff right now,” she added, referring to the break-up of longtime producing partners Ferrell and McKay. But Applegate seemed to speak for the entire “Anchorman” ensemble when she said: “If there was to be one, I can guarantee you all of us would jump at it — in a heartbeat — just to be together again.”

As it turns out, filming “Dead to Me” took a huge toll on Applegate — physically as well as emotionally. At one point in the series, she breaks into an elaborate Fosse-inspired dance routine. “I was in traction for a week because I hadn’t danced in 10 years before that day. So it hurt. This old body? This 47- year-old body can’t do it anymore.”

The scene showcases a rare moment of joy for a widow mourning the sudden loss of her husband, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. “Jen, my character, is grieving in worst way possible, but that’s her way,” said Applegate. “And I think that we should all be allowed to do that when we need to. Grief doesn’t have a timeline. And grief is messy.”

Applegate revealed that she drew on a past personal loss for this emotional rollercoaster of a role. “It tapped into some stuff that I had to face. It was cathartic,” she said. “I don’t know if [it was] therapeutic. Did I start therapy after I shot the show? Yes, absolutely,” she said with a laugh. “To like finally talk about the stuff that hurt you in your life — and heal from that? I think it’s really beautiful thing.”

As for the show’s creator, Liz Feldman, she had her own struggles. “The biggest challenge of getting it made? Acts of God,” she told Variety. “There are things that happen in production that you can never foresee coming, like illness and people actually passing away and inclement weather and fires. Things like that that were just sort of daily obstacles.” But in retrospect, Feldman has only gratitude, regardless of whether or not Netflix renews her series for a second season. “I have to say we really blessed, like something was up there looking down at us, some kind of luck.”

“Dead to Me” is streaming now on Netflix.

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