Selma Blair lived with multiple sclerosis for 40 years before receiving a diagnosis, and she was determined to prevent her friend and former co-star Christina Applegate from having the same experience.
Speaking to British Vogue, Applegate recalled the day that Blair urged her to get tested for the disease after she began having symptoms.
“I was sitting in Selma’s living room, our children playing, and I told Selma I’d been having this weird tingling in my feet,” she told the publication. “She said, ‘You must get tested for MS.’ [Even my doctor doubted it] but there it was.”
The “Dead to Me” actor went on to note, “In essence, because of her I’m going to have a better quality of life.”
Applegate went public with her MS diagnosis in 2021, roughly three years after Blair first addressed her experience with the disease. The two actors, who co-starred in the 2002 comedy “The Sweetest Thing,” have become outspoken advocates for people with MS.
Elsewhere in the article, Blair described the lengths she went to in order to conceal her MS symptoms before she was formally diagnosed. As her Hollywood profile was on the rise with well-received performances in movies like “Cruel Intentions” and “Hellboy,” the actor herself felt “lost and sad” as she grappled with “self-hatred” behind the scenes.
“I was worried since the beginning of time that a glaring fault would remove me from the workforce,” she explained. “And usually it was my incoordination or getting stuck, too weak or sick, in my trailer ― or any time, really. The vomiting or body issues were terrifying, [and the] baldness or rashes.”
A turning point came, Blair said, once she wrapped her role on the short-lived NBC sitcom “Kath & Kim.” By then, her “autoimmune system was misfiring” and she was “losing most of my hair and all of my energy,” thus making it difficult for her to pursue film and television projects. Often, she’d have to calculate “how many naps would I fit in on the side of the road” while driving to and from auditions.
“[When I quit acting] I spent my days in bed, crying, sometimes binge drinking, sometimes reading and sleeping, seeing doctors and healers,” she said. “I gave up almost until the diagnosis. I was always terrified I would be deemed incapable. Or mentally unsound. My mother taught me that was death for a woman career-wise.”
These days, Blair is one of Hollywood’s most visible members of the disabled community. She chronicled her day-to-day experiences with MS in the 2021 documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair,” and has won global praise for making her cane a fashion statement.
Though her acting days were presumed to be behind her, she told British Vogue she hasn’t ruled out a return to the big screen.
“I haven’t actively pursued work in acting ― it hasn’t been the right time yet ― but it’s absolutely doable for me,” she said. “I have to take the leap.”