Originally famous as the bodacious, brain-challenged Bundy offspring Kelly on Fox's long-running dysfunctional family sitcom Married...With Children, Christina Applegate parlayed her comic talents and sexy image into a parallel movie career.
A natural blonde Hollywood baby, Applegate was raised by her actress mother, Nancy Priddy, after Priddy split from Applegate's father, record executive Bobby Applegate. Making her acting debut as an infant with her mother on TV's Days of Our Lives, Applegate subsequently landed her first movie role at age ten when she appeared with Priddy in the low-grade horror flick Jaws of Satan (1981). After playing Grace as a child in the TV biopic Grace Kelly (1983), Applegate guest starred on several TV shows before landing her own permanent series role in the short-lived Heart of the City (1986). Her next series, however, proved the charm. Debuting in 1987 on the fledgling Fox TV network, Married...With Children withstood criticisms about its all-around vulgarity to become one of Fox's first signature hits. During its ten-year run, Married...With Children also spawned the TV movie It's a Bundyful Life (1992), featuring Applegate and the rest of the Bundy clan in a spoof of holiday chestnut It's a Wonderful Life (1946). A bona fide teen heartthrob and star, Applegate attempted to show her serious side as a prostitute and drug addict in the gritty drama Streets (1990). Teen comedy Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991) tried to capitalize on Applegate's TV fame while showcasing her as a smart, resourceful, anti-Bundy character. Also during Married...With Children's run, Applegate appeared in the female road movie Across the Moon (1994), mutilated rock musician-drama Vibrations (1995), and as the town whore in Walter Hill's underrated Western Wild Bill (1995). Applegate's Married fame further landed her a small part in the all-star ensemble populating Tim Burton's science fiction parody Mars Attacks! (1996), and wryly shaded her presence in Gregg Araki's Los Angeles teen anomie opus Nowhere (1997), the slickest entrant in his "teen apocalypse trilogy."
Ready to leave the TV-bred teen realm behind after Married went off the air in 1997, Applegate co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in the Hong Kong-tinged action comedy The Big Hit (1998) and played the WASP fiancée of a Mob scion in Jim Abrahams' Mafia movie parody Mafia! (1998). She co-starred with her eventual husband, Johnathon Schaech, and erstwhile teen idol Molly Ringwald in the high-school reunion thriller The Giving Tree (1999) as well. Inspired by her experience with her mother growing up, though, Applegate agreed to return to TV to star as a single mom balancing work and family in the sitcom Jesse (1998). Despite choice time slots, however, Jesse was canceled in 2000. Applegate returned to movie comedy co-starring with Jean Reno as a princess and modern gal in the ill-received remake of a French time-travel yarn Just Visiting (2001). Subsequently holding her own opposite some of her more lustrous film peers, Applegate earned far better reviews than the movie itself as Cameron Diaz's levelheaded best friend in the raunchy female bonding romp The Sweetest Thing (2002), and flew the friendly skies with Gwyneth Paltrow in the flight attendant comedy A View from the Top (2003).
In 2004, Applegate landed herself leading-lady roles in two of the year's most anticipated films. First, in July, she starred opposite Will Ferrell in the 70s-era comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Then, the following November, she could be seen with Ben Affleck in the holiday film Surviving Christmas. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi