Linda Cardellini on her career: I’ve had times when I’ve cried and thought it was over

Dead To Me season 2 is airing, and it is currently the number two show on Netflix, second to David Spade and Lauren Lapkus’s movie The Wrong Missy. (How is that the number one show on Netflix? I know I said I would watch it, and I will.) I loved season one and have seen three episodes of season two so far. (We’re watching it for our next Celebitchy Zoom meeting. Sign up here to get an invitation, we meet Wednesdays at 4pm EST.) I have a unique issue with that show because I don’t drink, I will have four years sober next month, and the characters drink so much that I find it disturbing. It reminds me too much of my drinking days and makes me think that they would have it so much easier if they would just quit. Linda Cardellini’s artsy character, Judy, just seems like she’s drinking socially, but Christina Applegate’s character, Jen, seems like a functioning alcoholic.

Linda did an interview with Glamour to promote the second season, and I really liked what she said about her career, and about finding her vulnerability as a actress. Her character Judy has such a goofy sweetness to her, and she said that she tried to play that up while not making Judy seem crazy. I remember Linda from early ER, and I’ve always found her so mesmerizing on screen. She said that she’s had tough times as an actress and that it can be hard to take rejection.

On how she approaches her character in Dead to Me
Judy’s a person who can’t really get angry at other people. I did some research on the idea that if you can’t get angry at other people, some people just take it out on themselves. So that’s sort of how I approach Judy. She’s so in search of love and connection, she won’t let herself be angry at other people… She’s a little screwed up, but we all are. When I first got the role, I was like, ‘I don’t want her to be crazy.’ Judy really does see the best in people, and I try to do that too.

I’ve had a lot of luck in my career, but there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve wondered if I’m going to work again, when I’ve cried and thought maybe this is over. It’s about picking yourself up after somebody says, ‘I don’t like you,’ or ‘We’re not looking for that.’ It takes a lot of resilience and persistence to stay in it as long as I have, but I believe my vulnerability has worked as a strength in my career

[From Glamour]

I can’t imagine how tough it must be to be a working actress, to have to go on auditions constantly and take that kind of rejection. Before I started this site I worked as a consultant and the work could be sporadic. I had clients and it didn’t feel as personal to be passed up for work as it must be for actors. Linda is 44 and she’s also facing the increased rejection that must come along with aging in Hollywood. (In no way am I saying she’s old, I’m older than she is.) She’s such an excellent actress, I hope we see her for years to come. Oh and Dead to Me is likely to get a third season. There’s no word yet, but showrunner Liz Feldman is optimistic about it. I bet we’ll see more of this show, especially considering how popular it is.



Photos credit: and Saeed Adyani / Netflix

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36 Responses to “Linda Cardellini on her career: I’ve had times when I’ve cried and thought it was over”

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  1. Franklymydear... says:

    I just started watching Dead to Me last week. I am a few episodes in to season 2 and I love it so much!! These ladies are killing it…great acting, excellent writing. It’s so good!!!

  2. Esmom says:

    I just started the second season and I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it. But Cardellini is great in it, although I’d say Judy is more than your average amount of screwed up. And those bangs, lol.

    She was so great in Mad Men. I hate to think of the anxiety that comes with not knowing where your next gig might be coming from, especially when you’re as talented as she is.

  3. Kateeee says:

    … I’ve never watched Dead to Me… but I will admit to loving Linda from the horrible live action Scooby Doo movies about 20 years ago now–dont judge, they grow on you when you’ve had to watch them eleventy million times! But Im glad she is on this very popular show and hope she continues to do well.

  4. Eribra says:

    I love her for Wendy on Gravity falls

  5. Suzieq359 says:

    Linda also has an extensive portfolio as a voice artist. Very talented overall performer with decades of experience. Very underrated

  6. Harper says:

    And who can ever forget her important work in Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2?

    She’s great. I am halfway into Dead To Me Season one and love her in it.

  7. Heather says:

    She is so good in Bloodline. It’s an older show on Netflix that I discovered recently. All the actors are good really – It’s a great show.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh yeah, Bloodline was so great. I agree that all the performances were really stellar, such an amazing cast, but Ben Mendelsohn was especially mesmerizing in it. And the sense of place it created was so vivid and tangible. I loved it.

    • Spicecake38 says:

      We just binged all of Bloodline over the last few weeks.She was great in it,I really liked that show-so many of my favorite actors and actresses.That gorgeous home/inn down in the Keys-Beautiful!

    • Korra says:

      I have developed an inexplicable crush on Ben Mendelsohn after watching “The Outsider” on HBO, so I also binge watched “Bloodline” recently. The acting in the show is all-around superb, including Linda Cardellini.

  8. Lisa says:

    What a talented actress and what a beautiful smile!

    • Korra says:

      Yeah, I have always found her so pretty. And glad to see she isn’t messing with her face either.

  9. Jane Wilson says:

    Freaks and Geeks!
    Guys if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and watch! Linda Cardellini really shone in her breakout role. As did Busy Phillips and a cast of characters you’ll recognize from other quality productions.
    You’re in for a treat!

    • Queen Meghan's Hand says:

      Yes! That’s where I know Linda Cardellini and I’m always taken aback to see her now because she remains that teenaged young in my mind.

    • ncboudicca says:

      So glad someone mentioned Freaks and Geeks!! I loved that show <3

    • amilou says:

      Thank you! I was just thinking….”How have I made it this far into the article/comments without ONE SINGLE mention of Freaks and Geeks!??!?!?!?”

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Love that show!

  10. Eva says:

    I will always love her because of Freaks & Geeks.

    It makes me so happy to see more and more actresses finding new, sometimes even bigger success after their 40s!!

  11. Spicecake38 says:

    I’ve watched both seasons of Dead to Me , I think it’s pretty great,but I actually agree with Celebitchy very much on the drinking…I swear I started to question my LACK of drinking from watching this-I drink occasionally but I saw sooo much alcohol consumption on this show I looked at my husband and said-Is this how people actually live??It’s just a show,but yeah I definitely noticed how much Jen is drinking and the normalization of it.

    Congratulations on almost four years sober CB.

  12. RN says:

    I loved season one of “Dead to Me” and was eagerly awaiting season 2. I have to say, I’m so disappointed that I’m not sure I’ll finish it. The writing is quite different than the first season. The plot line is completely implausible. It’s to the point where I feel myself muttering, “that could never happen.” Plus, the characters seem to have soooo much free time to run around instead of working full-time jobs. And yes, the amount of alcohol consumed is disturbing.

    I do love Cardinelli’s character in the show. This is my first time watching her as an actress and I’ll explore some of her earlier work.

  13. sassback says:

    Every time I see Linda Cardellini, I remember that she’s the inspiration for Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Whether or not it’s a flattering portrayal, it must be cool to have made a mark on pop culture that you inspired a talented screenwriter to write something based off of you and to have been in so many cult shows and movies.

  14. Milkweed says:

    Season 2 blew me away! So much great acting and plot twists. I love Christina Applegate’s acting so much. It makes me nostalgic for the 90s. I won’t spoil the cameo, but when the actress who plays Judy’s mom popped on screen, I cried and cried! It was so great to see her and realize that she and Christina must stay in touch.

  15. Sof says:

    I haven’t started watching season 2, but come on, Judy is crazy. Or at least, her guilt makes her behave in a crazy way.

  16. Keiji says:

    I don’t mean to be negative, but Dead to Me is one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. I guess I’m not the demographic . It’s so predictable, and full of mom jokes, so cringey. I can’t understand the appeal. I’m happy to see women of a certain age being celebrated, that’s all I’ve got.

    • Milkweed says:

      I consider it a soap opera.

    • TyrantDestroyed says:

      I started to watch it at normal speed and found myself fast forwarding for most of the season 1. I don’t intent to watch season 2. I’m a mom but I feel this show is the kind of sitcom my mom would appreciate more.

  17. Caroline says:

    If you like this, try watching Pamela Adlon’s masterpiece, “Better Things” on FX/Hulu

    She tells a very close-to-autobiographical story of being a working actress of a certain age, while also raising 3 girls as a single mom. It’s not a hahahahaha kind of funny, but it’s warm and insightful and beautifully shot. She’s been acting since she was a teenager but never had breakout success until now in her 50s. It’s SOOOO good!

    • outofthecloset says:

      Seconding this. She’s really, truly funny, but the show isn’t exactly a comedy–

      it IS terrific, though.

  18. Dee Kay says:

    I like Dead to Me and I think most of it is the two leads. Cardellini and Applegate are both hit-it-out-of-the-park comediennes. They bring a ton more out of the scripted lines than what’s on the page. They run the gamut from tragic to hilarious and can blend the two, too. If it weren’t them, the show wouldn’t be half as good.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree. I really like it, and it is because of the 2 leads. It’s nice to see female relationships as er, complex as this one.

      I’m about 3 episodes into the 2nd season.

  19. Faye G says:

    I love Dead to Me, the chemistry is perfect. The dark humor really hits three spot for me right now

  20. Courtney B says:

    Don’t forget Legally Blond where she would’ve gotten away with it if she’d only remembered the simple rules of perm maintenance. She also played Laura Barton on Avengers Age of Ultron and Endgame.

  21. Linda says:

    There has to be a third season. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so hooked on a show. Love it!