Applegate said some people working on Dead to Me wanted to end production after she received her diagnosis—but she was determined to see it through. “The powers that be were like, ‘Let’s just stop. We don’t need to finish it. Let’s put a few episodes together,’” she explained. “I said, ‘No. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it on my terms.’”
As her symptoms progressed, Applegate had to adjust to new logistical challenges on set. She said she had a hard time navigating the steps to her trailer; she sometimes used a wheelchair; and heat made shooting difficult for her, she explained. (High temperatures can exacerbate MS symptoms for some people with the condition, per the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.)
Fortunately, Applegate says the Dead to Me team was supportive. Her co-star, Linda Cardellini, who also happens to be a close friend, advocated for her when she needed to take a break but didn’t want to ask for one. “She was my champion, my warrior, my voice,” Applegate said. “It was like having a mama bear.” A sound technician also helped Applegate by physically holding up her legs so she could stand through certain scenes.
Even though she stuck with this project until it was done, Applegate said she hasn’t—and doesn’t expect to—reach a point of resolution with her diagnosis: “It’s not like I came to the other side of it, like, ‘Woohoo, I’m totally fine,’” she said.
But she’s hopeful that audiences will appreciate the end of the series, for the sake of its characters, Applegate said: “If people hate it, if people love it, that’s not up to me…. But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye.”