In the comedy show Samantha Who?, Christina Applegate pulls double duty with two contrasting roles.
When this series launched in the US, it became the season’s No. 1 sitcom and was named Favorite New Comedy at the People’s Choice Awards. For her part (Sam), Christina Applegate earned a Golden Globe nomination and is in the running for a Best Actress Emmy. Despite her success on both the big screen and the stage, Applegate always wanted to return to TV.
“Television is female-dominated now. Look at Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty. All these shows have central female characters who are strong. It’s really amazing.”
Her wish was granted. In the hit new sitcomSamantha Who?, the 36-year-old plays Samantha Newly, a career woman who wakes up from a coma with no memory of her previous life. When she does start to piece together her past, she’s horrified to learn that she used to be a self-absorbed, catty diva. Taking her amnesia as a sign for change, she now tries to make amends for the damage caused by her former self.
In the new-and-improved Samantha, we also see the old version of her in flashbacks. How did you approach playing the two roles?
People like bad Sam have such confidence and the focus on their goals is so singular that nothing is going to stand in their way. There is something so relaxing about playing bad Sam because she is so confident in everything she does. But [the new] Samantha is so wound up just trying to figure out who she is, I find I get very exhausted playing her.
Do you play them on the same day?
Yes, sometimes I have to go from good Sam to bad Sam and back to good Sam in one day — that’s just the way it is!
Will Sam ever get her memory back?
Our lives are filled with millions of memories, so we can keep having these moments sneak back in, but she’ll never actually get it all back. That aspect [of her memory loss] becomes secondary as we go along, and it becomes more about the relationships she is having now.
How did Married With Children inspire your comedic talents?
Married With Children ended 12 years ago but that was absolutely my comedy training. Before that I really didn’t understand comedy, but then I had 11 years of practice. During that time I honed in on what my thing is.
Have you ever wished you could start over in your real life? What would you rather forget?
I look back at my life and the good, bad and ugly have made me who I am, so I embrace a lot of that. But if I had to do things over, there are some relationships I got into when I was younger that I probably shouldn’t have. I’d like to have a ‘do-over’ there.
You split from your husband [actor] Jonathan Scaech in 2005. Are you enjoying single life?
I’m not really dating yet. The show is all-consuming, so working 16-hour days leaves little time for a social life.
Samantha Who? premieres on Star World on Friday, August 29, at 8:30 pm