Dead To Me stars’ surprise Hollywood connection
Fans hooked on Netflix's cult black comedy Dead To Me have been using two words to describe lead characters Jen and Judy: Friendship goals.
But that seems a little twisted, given theirs is a friendship forged from a web of lies, crime and cover-ups. Are they really friends - or are they keeping an eye on each other, each making sure the other doesn't snitch?
Actress Linda Cardellini, who plays the mysterious but good-hearted Judy to Christina Applegate's caustic single mum Jen in the series, acknowledges the characters are unlikely BFFs.
"The first season, I thought, if I can just make people want them to be friends - after everything you come to find out about Judy - I will have done something that seems impossible. And people who like the show really seem to love Jen and Judy as friends," she told news.com.au over a Zoom call from her home in the US last week.
"They are very yin and yang - and they do at this point need each other, despite what they should or shouldn't be doing together."
Season two of the series launched on Netflix last month and ramped up the show's trademark shock twists to Mexican soap opera levels: Surprise romances, identical twins and mysteriously disappearing corpses all play a part. Through the increasingly far-fetched plot twists, the friendship between Jen and Judy anchors the show back in reality. Surprisingly, given so much of the series hinges on their chemistry, Cardellini admits she and Applegate hadn't even met before she signed on the dotted line.
"It happens a lot in the industry. I've had an enormous amount of luck in terms of loving the people I'm working with. You want to be able to work well together. From the second we met, there was no filter," Cardellini said of their first meeting, a lunch with series creator Liz Feldman.
"It was just a really honest relationship where we could really talk to each other. On set, it was so much fun, because I've never been head to head with another female co-lead so much, being able to do all the gymnastics that we do - comedy, drama, singing, dancing! Sometimes we just continue to improv until they finally kick us off set."
And as Applegate discussed with typical candour during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live last year, the pair are making up for lost time, in a way: Had she made a different career move almost 20 years ago, they could have starred in the 2001 smash hit comedy Legally Blonde together.
Applegate, just a few years off Married With Children, felt the lead role of Elle Woods was too close to the perky blonde she'd portrayed on the small screen for years. "Reese Witherspoon did a way better job than I ever could … and she now has way more money and way more success, so why would I even regret that?" she said on Watch What Happens Live, tongue firmly in cheek.
Cardellini had a small but memorable role in the film, playing directly opposite Witherspoon as 'Chutney Windham,' whose lies in court help Elle Woods crack a big case.
"In this town, it's a very interesting fabric of people you come across, and people you never do. We'd both been in the industry for decades and never crossed paths. But you never know, one small decision … If she had've taken that role, who knows what else would've been cast? It's a small world in some ways."
Dead To Me season 1 and 2 are now available on Netflix.
Originally published as Dead To Me stars' surprise Hollywood connection