Ap­ple­gate strength

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Pay-tv -

CHRISTINA Ap­ple­gate has been mak­ing audiences laugh for more than 20 years, but the past 12 months have held noth­ing for the com­edy ac­tor to smile about.

In April last year, the 37-yearold was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer, and in Au­gust she had a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy.

It is a trib­ute to Ap­ple­gate’s re­solve that she has man­aged to con­tinue film­ing sit­com Sa­man­tha Who? around the trauma. An Ap­ple­gate spokesper­son said the star was ‘‘on a nor­mal shoot­ing sched­ule’’ and the US’s ABC net­work said ‘‘it’s busi­ness as usual’’.

It was her role as ditzy teenage daugh­ter Kelly Bundy in the com­edy Mar­ried with Chil­dren that shot Ap­ple­gate to in­ter­na­tional star­dom. She played the char­ac­ter for 10 years from 1987.

‘‘Kelly Bundy was a great, amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ Ap­ple­gate says. ‘‘If I hadn’t had that, I wouldn’t be able to do com­edy.

‘‘I have such re­spect for that ex­pe­ri­ence and that char­ac­ter. But you have to leave your char­ac­ters be­hind and move for­ward.’’

In Sa­man­tha Who? Ap­ple­gate plays Sa­man­tha Newly, a ruth­less busi­ness­woman known for her self­ish­ness, whose char­ac­ter changes af­ter an ac­ci­dent leaves her with am­ne­sia.

Upon hear­ing about her old life, Sa­man­tha de­cides to start afresh, but it’s not as easy as she thinks to leave old habits be­hind.

‘‘What I liked about the role was its fresh­ness,’’ she says. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing was a dis­cov­ery.

‘‘I liked the fact she has no pre­con­ceived opin­ions. It’s a re­flec­tion on real life; you don’t know if you will wake up one day and dis­cover who you are.’’

Ap­ple­gate has gone through plenty of self-dis­cov­ery in the past year. Her mother had sur­vived breast can­cer and Ap­ple­gate had been hav­ing reg­u­lar mam­mo­grams since she was 30. It was only when doc­tors sug­gested an MRI screen­ing, be­cause of the dense­ness of her breast tis­sue, that the con­di­tion was di­ag­nosed.

‘‘They found some funky things go­ing on in one breast,’’ she told Oprah Win­frey in Novem­ber.

Doc­tors did a biopsy and a week later gave Ap­ple­gate the bad news.

Re­sults showed the can­cer was in her left breast and had been de­tected at an early stage. Just as she was con­tem­plat­ing ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, an­other test — for the breast can­cer gene — re­turned a pos­i­tive re­sult. That left two op­tions: go ahead with ra­di­a­tion and be tested for the rest of her life, or have both breasts re­moved. Ap­ple­gate chose the lat­ter. ‘‘I didn’t want to have to deal with this again. I didn’t want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just wanted to be done with it,’’ she told Win­frey.

Ap­ple­gate’s com­po­sure and strength dur­ing her in­ter­view on The Oprah Win­frey Show erad­i­cated once and for all the im­age of ditzy Kelly Bundy.

HERE was a woman who, pro­fes­sion­ally, had achieved so much and now was open­ing up to the world about one of the hard­est de­ci­sions a woman has to face.

‘‘I’m no dumb blonde,’’ she says. ‘‘I’ve learned to be re­spon­si­ble and pro­fes­sional and that’s be­cause I did work through my child­hood. I think it was a good thing.

‘‘I wasn’t Kelly Bundy. When I left the stu­dio on a Fri­day night, I put on my long, flow­ing skirt, took off my make-up, put my hair in a pony­tail and lived a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life.

‘‘If some­one had in mind that I was like my char­ac­ters when I sat down with them, that’s gone. I’m not those peo­ple any more. That is how I ap­proached my work.

‘‘The ques­tion of whether I’m like Kelly keeps hap­pen­ing, but I’d re­ally left it. That was nearly 20 years ago.’’

Trau­matic year: US com­edy ac­tor Christina Ap­ple­gate chose a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy rather than be­ing sub­jected to a life­time of can­cer tests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.