As it turns out, it's just as hard to keep a straight face around Ron Burgundy as we thought — and, that's coming from a woman whose résumé includes performing a musical number devoted to male genitalia alongside Cameron Diaz. But, Applegate isn't all laughs all the time; she also waxed poetic about the trailblazing women who made it all possible and what it's like to spend a year as a stay-at-home mom. Veronica may have been only 72% sure that she loved Ron Burgundy, but we're 100% sure about our infatuation with Christina.
What was it like being a woman on this set, among the boys' club of comedians?
"Well, I originally gave Meagan Good a pep talk, because I knew she was really nervous and, you know, animals smell fear. You can't come into it with that; you have to come into it with a lot of confidence and try to be as present as you can and come up toe to toe. But, this is not a group of improv-y guys with a lot of competition — I know that there's a lot of big comedy guys out there who are very competitive and that's the tone that they set, but this movie was much more cooperative. Everyone wants you to be better than them, and they only say the stuff that they say to make their buddies laugh. It's almost, 'I'm gonna make you laugh,' instead of 'I'm gonna be funnier than you.'"
Veronica's role in the movie was kept a little big of a secret, so what was your opinion of her actual part?
"I'm not sure what their strategy with that has been, but I knew from the beginning that there would be another female, and that she was going to be kind of the new Veronica, as a love interest-slash-nemesis. Which was fine with me, I was just happy to be in it. You could have given me one line, and I would have been excited. I think they needed to keep the second half under wraps because it was such a huge plot point, and we've been trying to keep an element of surprise."
Is it hard to keep a straight face with Will, even the second time around?
"Oh my god, yah. I was really terrible on this one. I was really good on the first one and kept it together and was really professional, and on this one I don't know what happened, but I would find myself being an audience member in the middle of my own scene and laughing really hard. If you watch the movie again, which we hope people will do, there's a Where's Waldo aspect to it where you can see that Adam McKay left in takes where we start to break and start to laugh.
They're little tiny moments, but if you watch it again you'll see Kristen Wiig, me, everybody at one point. I hope he did it on purpose, and if he did I think it's pretty genius to give the audience a peek into our reality. I think that's one of the reasons that the first one was such a success, because you could feel how much fun we were having. That's why we wanted to do another one, just to be able to hang out again."
Your character is a sort of center of integrity within the story — did you consider that at all while filming?
"I just tried to think about the women of the time who were kicking so much butt — the Jane Pauleys and the Barbara Walters. That's really when they were kind of coming up and getting to interview the Yasser Arafats, and you see all these images of them in the trenches with these people. It was the first time that women were allowed to do this. You couldn't have a weak bone in your body if you were going to be that person who was going to start to poke at someone who might bomb you. You had to have a certain amount of integrity and strength.
But, I think Veronica's changed quite a bit in this movie, because you can't help but change when you become a parent. It softens you and it changes what your motivations are. In the first one she would kill to get what she wanted, and in this one I think she really just wants to have her family together no matter what."
Your relationship with Ron Burgundy is stronger in this movie than the first time around, but still kind of tentative…
"Yes, she's definitely still just 72% sure. And, maybe not even that sure…we'll find out in Anchorman 3."
You were one of the first people to tweet about the sequel happening — what was the anticipation like for you?
"I mean, we're talking 10 years of waiting. I started running into Steve Carell a lot about six years ago when we were doing the awards circuit. He would tell me we were doing it, and then at the next one it wasn't happening, it was really up and down emotionally for all of us. And, then I read something somewhere that maybe I wasn't gonna be a part of it, and I got really sad. It was an emotional roller coaster, and then all of a sudden, it was dead in the water. And, then the fans got kind of furious, and Paramount realized that more people had seen this since the box office numbers of the first one, which were mediocre at best."
Female-driven comedies are really big now, with Bridesmaids and The Heat, but do you ever think that The Sweetest Thing was the original?
"I think so, too. Sadly, I wish that people could have seen the original script, because it was way darker and way more crass, and I think they got scared that women were talking like that. They made it sweeter and more of a romantic comedy, where originally the dialogue and the situations were so much more R-rated than what ended up happening. I think it was funnier than how it ended up, but at the same time people were so offended by the toned-down version.
They weren't ready for ladies to be talking like that, but I guess we're ready now. I'm so proud of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, who are proving that women are funny people and that we can open a movie on our own. It used to be that it was so-and-so and so-and-so, and you're playing the thankless female part. You're always playing that when you're dealing with the funny guy — your part is usually the wife who's not as funny and not as strong. That's difficult for those of us who know how cool these girls out there are."
What is your personal connection to comedy? Does it seep through past your professional life?
"I'm pretty serious…my personality is kind of half and half. I like to make myself laugh and usually am not making anyone else laugh. My jokes are always inside jokes with myself. But, I have a 3-year-old so you kind of have to stay zany for them — I like to make her giggle and she likes to make me giggle. But, this movie, it isn't a group that's 'on' all the time; we're pretty subdued. On camera we are but not in between scenes."
How are you balancing everything now? Do you have a lot on your plate?
"Well, right now I'm taking a year off to be a stay-at-home mom, so it's been fabulous. I didn't do it because I didn't like work; I did it because I missed my daughter. I have done some endorsements, but that's just so I can not have to work for a year. It's helpful to have something coming in when you're staying home and being Mommy and don't get out of your PJs until the next morning."