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Why Veronica Corningstone From Anchorman Looks So Familiar

Will Ferrell may be the titular character in Adam McKay's lauded comedy, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," but it's his dynamic with his on-again, off-again career rival and romantic interest, the fiercely passionate Veronica Corningstone, that makes the movie tick (well, that and Paul Rudd, obviously).

Veronica plays a major role in both the 2004 film and its 2013 sequel, "Anchorman: The Legend Continues," and her struggle as a woman in a male-dominated field is an integral part of what keeps the narrative from falling into the wholly absurd and slapstick. Written by both McKay and "Saturday Night Live" star Ferrell, the story follows the beloved 1970s anchorman's career and downward spiral in the wake of Veronica's unprecedented rise to lead anchor. 

Blending traditional rom-com tropes with surrealist sketch comedy and a healthy dose of parody and spoof, "Anchorman" was a major hit with audiences (via Rotten Tomatoes), not least of all because its cast, which included Christina Applegate — the veteran comedic actor behind the polyester-happy Corningstone. If, for some reason, you're having trouble remembering where you first inevitably fell in love with this familiar-faced performer, here's a detailed rundown of all the projects in which you're most likely to have seen her.  

In Married with Children, Applegate played the consummate sitcom ditz

For a full decade, beginning in 1987, Christina Applegate portrayed flighty older sibling Kelly Bundy on Fox's occasionally controversial nod to "All in the Family," Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye's "Married with Children." Despite her extremely exaggerated ditzy nature, Kelly could be particularly cutting when it came to putting down her younger brother Bud (David Faustino) and had little trouble wrapping her father, Ed O'Neill's Al Bundy, around her perfectly French manicured finger. 

Though the actor had previously starred in the short-lived and lesser-known series "Washingtoon" and "Heart of the City," and guest-starred in a handful of 1980s TV shows, "Married with Children" was undoubtedly Applegate's big break. The series' successful 11 season-run on network television made the "Anchorman" star a household name, particularly since a major percentage of its less-polarizing laughs came from Kelly's all-too-literal interpretation of the world and infamously silly one-liners. Who could forget the time when, as the local news' "weather bunny" — Applegate's first turn as an anchorwoman — Kelly proclaimed that there were "strom clods" moving in over "chick-a-go" (via YouTube)? From there, with only a handful of seasons of the widely-watched sitcom under her belt, the actor was cast in a feature film that would eventually become a 90s cult classic.

Applegate struck gold with Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead

In 1991, director Stephen Herek — fresh off the success of 1989's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" — struck a chord with teens and pre-teens everywhere with the dark comedy "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead." When a group of five siblings are left alone all summer, and in the charge of a nightmarish elderly babysitter, their dismay turns to relief, then panic, when their strict overseer suddenly dies of coronary. Viewing the situation as an opportunity to do whatever they want all summer, the siblings, led by Applegate's fashion-loving Sue Ellen Crandell (aka "Swell"), make the executive decision not to tell their mother (hence the title). 

Unfortunately, things take a sudden turn when the kids realize the money their mother left them was disposed of along with their nanny's body. Swell is subsequently forced to take on a level of responsibility that she'd previously thought herself incapable of tackling, and though the film is chock-full of the usual dark comedy gags and teenage hijinks, it's not without heart — particularly where Applegate's character is concerned. 

Having fully established herself as a go-to comedic actor, Applegate was tapped in quick succession for a handful of feature comedy films, including two that would further cement her nineties it-girl legacy. 

Anchorman was far from Applegate's first exercise in parody

Well before breathing life into ambitious anchorwoman Veronica Corningstone in Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's premiere 1970s gender politics parody, Applegate starred in two other sardonic-meets-silly spoofs on classic genre films. 

In 1996, the actor portrayed Sharona — the grief-stricken, halter-top wearing girlfriend of Jack Black's Billy Glenn Norris — in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" A film that's at once absurd and hilariously astute in its commentary on the era, the quirky director's celebrated spin on the cheesy alien invasion movies of the 1950s was critically lauded at the time of its release, and would eventually become one of Burton's many cult classics. Shortly thereafter, Applegate was cast in another cinematic spoof with director Jim Abrahams' wink at films like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas," 1998's "Mafia!" 

The film never shied away from leaving into its Francis Ford Coppola-inspired affect, and Applegate's peter-pan collar-bedecked character, Diane Steen, was an overtly obviously play on Diane Keaton's Kay Adams. Despite the film's clever premise, it never received much critical acclaim — possibly because it debuted alongside the smash hit, "There's Something About Mary." In his review of "Mafia!," Roger Ebert mentioned the superiority of the Farrelly brothers' film twice, despite the two films' disparate purports and vibes. He did manage to get a laugh out of one of Applegate's lines, though: "I'm always gonna just be that Protestant chick who never killed anyone?" she asks at one point, referencing Keaton's character. 

With Jesse, Applegate landed her first sitcom lead

Following her success on the cinematic parody circuit, Applegate returned to primetime, this time as the lead of her very own sitcom. For the duration of its short-lived run, the actor portrayed working single mother and titular character Jesse Warner in Ira Ungerleider's "Jesse." As the series lead, Applegate's relatable and awkward character was perpetually locked in a will-they-won't-they with her charismatic and swoon-worthy neighbor Diego (Bruno Campos), whose appeal was rivaled only by the attempts of Jesse's ex-husband to win her back. 

"Jesse" was the only new sitcom NBC dared to offer-up at the peak of its success with "Friends" and "Frasier," and was, unsurprisingly, a victim of its contemporaries' success. The show was cancelled unceremoniously, though not, as The Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson wrote, for want of a more compelling lead. "Applegate is surprisingly charming," he wrote, "but her show, despite being from the 'Friends' team, is a scoop of vanilla." In 1998, NBC audiences had grown accustomed to watching hip young ensemble casts navigate relationships and careers, but not single motherhood — after just two seasons, "Jesse" was cancelled. Applegate, however, remained in demand.

The Sweetest Thing paved the way for women in raunchy rom-coms

Before 2011's "Bridesmaids" and 2017's "Girls Trip," there was 2002's "The Sweetest Thing." Written by "Shameless" writer Nancy M. Pimental, the film was amongst the first to make the revolutionary claim that women could be not only funny, but downright raunchy and absurd. In a tongue-in-cheek nod to 1998's "There's Something About Mary," the absurdist rom-com cast Cameron Diaz as the archetypal unlucky-in-love but uncannily perfect woman, Christina, who was forever accompanied by her two polar opposite friends — Applegate's blunt and irreverent Courtney, and Selma Blair's timid and anxious Jane. 

As Courtney, Applegate fully embraced her comedic background. In one scene, she carries on a lengthy conversation with Diaz's character while a bathroom full of women admire her breast implants in an aggressively tactile manner. Though it failed to impress critics at the time of its release, including Roger Ebert (who, once again, couldn't get past the fact that it wasn't "There's Something About Mary," despite its obviously intentional gender inversion of the Farrelly brothers' film), it did eventually garner praise. In 2021, Refinery 29's Anne Cohen said it paved the way for later films of its ilk, and praised Applegate's performance specifically, saying "she's having fun, making herself laugh, and inviting women in on the joke" while "telling peeping toms everywhere that maybe they should mind their own ******* business." 

Christina Applegate was Rachel's sister Amy

"Jesse" may not have been a win for the actor, but it wasn't her last appearance on an NBC sitcom, either. As many a die-hard "Friends" fan will recall, Jennifer Anniston's Rachel Greene has two siblings, an older sister named Amy (Applegate) and a younger sister named Jill (Reese Witherspoon). 

Amy appears in just two episodes ("The One with Rachel's Other Sister" and "The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits"), but her character is every bit as memorable as any other family member in the series. After learning that she won't get to have baby Emma (whom she calls Ella) in the event of her sister's death, the entitled, abrasive "Baby stylist" and "Interior Decorator" (of her dad's office) decides to go on the attack. 

Applegate's first appearance on the show earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, while her second appearance earned her a nomination (via IMDb). Five years later, Applegate would once again pilot her own sitcom with CBS' "Samantha Who?," but not before starring in another feature film. Two years before Dane Cook and Jessica Simpson acted — a thing that happened with alarming frequency in the early 2000s — in the 2006 flop, "Employee of the Month," Christina Applegate and Matt Dillon starred in Mitch Rouse's little-known dramedy of the same name. Thankfully, Applegate appeared in "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" that same year, and the film's success helped keep the comedy queen on track and re-inspire her already devoted fan base.