Changes to the script were rarely necessary, though there were some adjustments in blocking. Jen had to be the one to open doors so that she could lean against them, and there are fewer establishing shots of her walking into rooms. In a terrible coincidence, much of this final season, written long before Applegate received her diagnosis, concerns illness, which made some scenes particularly hard.
“When Linda and I would do those scenes, it crushed us sometimes,” Applegate said.
But Cardellini was also her advocate. “She was my champion, my warrior, my voice,” she said. When Applegate hesitated to ask for a break or when she wasn’t heard, Cardellini stepped in. “It was like having a mama bear,” Applegate added.
Cardellini resisted taking too much credit for this. “I just wanted the best for the person that I love and care about and have the honor to work with,” she said.
Applegate said that finishing the series was the hardest thing that she has ever done. But the shoot had moments of grace, too. She couldn’t fall apart on set, at least not until a scene required it. And the love and support of the crew cheered her.
Besides, she wanted to make sure that the story received the send-off it deserved, even though she doesn’t think she will ever watch this season. She finds it too painful. She worries about what viewers will think of it, but only up to a point.
“If people hate it, if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is, ‘Ooh, look at the cripple,’ that’s not up to me,” she said. “I’m sure that people are going to be, like, ‘I can’t get past it.’”
“Fine, don’t get past it, then,” she continued. “But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls.”