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FILM: GLITTERING LIFE OF AN AMERICAN IDOL; CHRISTINA APPLEGATE'S FAME IS ABOUT TO BREAK OUT OF THE US, THANKS TO ANCHORMAN.

Byline: LESLEY O'TOOLE

She has been one of the most recognisable women in America for most of her adult life. Aged 16, Christina won the role of ditzy blonde Kelly Bundy in Married With Children - one of America's most successful sitcoms - which ran for 10 years. Now 32, she remains one of America's funniest blondes, although Hollywood has yet to fully capitalise on her talents. But all that is about to change. We met up with Christina on the LA set of Anchorman, the new comedy in which she stars alongside Will Ferrell as an ambitious '70s news anchor in a man's world.

Do you ever wonder why you're not a huge film star already? Well, I'd rather have a long career than a good two-year one and so it has just been fine. I'd rather that than be the over-exposed person who makes everyone go, "Jesus Christ, if I see them on TV one more time I'm going to be sick". I think I would rather be who I am. You can always reinvent and rediscover yourself, although monetarily it is much better to be on the A list of course. But I'll get my 15 million, don't you worry.

Was it hard to escape from Kelly in Married With Children? No, not at all. For everybody else on that programme I guess it's been hard. For me it never has been. If it was hard for me I would probably be under a bridge somewhere drinking booze out of a paper bag. But, clearly I'm not.

The media are much more intrusive now than when you were on the show. Does that make you worried about impending film stardom? In a way because right now I can go and hide, and that's what I like about my career. I can work a little bit and I can disappear. I don't have people following me. On Married With Children I stayed away from the media and I think it was the smartest thing I've ever done in my life.

Tell us about Veronica Corningstone, your character in Anchorman. She is so dedicated to her goal and so determined that she will knock you out to get what she wants. And then she gets it she discovers, like most people, that what she wants is love.

Can you relate to that? Um, no! Because I learned a long time ago that love and living your life are the most important things.

What is it about love? It makes the world go round! What if you've worked every day of your life and you go, "OK, these are all the things I have and these are all the things I've done, but I don't have love"? If you don't have love, you have nothing.

You're married to Kiss The Bride actor Johnathon Schaech, but would you like to have children? Yes, absolutely. But I need to take a little break first.

Any plans for a project with your husband? You know, I think that doesn't always work. I would love to do something with him but it would have to be the right thing and I don't even know what that would be. I don't think I would want us to be in a relationship in a movie.

You're obviously good at comedy. What's the secret? Something I learned many moons ago - never take yourself seriously. Also that comedy is essentially tragedy. So, take a real situation and look at it from an ironic point of view. That's the trick to the whole thing because human beings are funny and human nature is funny.

You've got another big film, Surviving Christmas, coming up in which you star opposite Ben Affleck playing a loner. Yes, I play the daughter of the family that he rents for Christmas. I'm his nemesis and lusty desire. I love Ben. He is the nicest person. He has an amazing brain and is a very professional and good person all the way round. Ben is also one of the funniest people I've ever come across. He's not a serious Mr Posy guy. He is a silly, silly man.

What was it like working on Friends as Rachel's sister? It was so much fun. I was lucky enough to be nominated for an Emmy for my role in 2002, so I felt like it was my duty to go back and reprise the role for the last year of the show.

Do you feel in competition with other actresses such as Cameron Diaz, whom you

CELLULOID CV

NAME: Christina Applegate.

PERSONAL FILE: Born November 25, 1971 in Hollywood, California to record producer dad Robert and singer-actress mum Nancy Priddy. They split soon after Christina was born and she has two step-siblings from her father's remarriage - Alisa (b 1977) and Kyle (b 1981). co-starred with a couple of years ago in The Sweetest Thing? I am so happy for anyone's good fortune that I don't feel I'm in competition with them. We're all unique and different. And if you don't get a part that you want, it might just be that they happen to be more right for it than you. It could be down to something as simple as eye colour. So you can't take it personally or you will drive yourself insane.

- Anchorman opens today.

Christina made her acting debut at the tender age of five months when her mother got her a part in a Playtex nappies advert. Rock guitarist Stephen Stills is one of mum's famous friends and Christina still cherishes a guitar he gave her when she was very young.

CAPTION(S):

BIG HIT: Married With Children; Picture: ANDREW ECCLES/JBG/IDOLS; HUBBY: With Johnathon; CAMEO: With Jennifer Aniston in Friends; BACK OFF: The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz; TRUE STORY: In Grand Theft Parsons (right); POOCH: With Will Ferrell in Anchorman; RISING STAR: Christina has several films in progress
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2004
Words:986
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