Dead to Me Cast: Real-Life Partners

We know so many details about Dead to Me, but do we know as much about its cast members and their real-life partners? How did Linda Cardellini’s baby daughter reveal her mother’s engagement? Who is James Marsden’s secret girlfriend? And which plotlines in ‘Dead to Me’ were inspired by Christina Applegate's real-life events? In this article, you'll find out all the details!


Linda Cardellini as Judy

Since her big breakthrough on Freaks and Geeks, Linda Cardellini has done very well both on the big and small screen. Although, she was mostly cast “as the slightly sarcastic person with purple lipstick and then as the sassy best friend or somebody’s wife."

“But in my heart of hearts," - Linda revealed. - "I wanted to change that.”

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Her most recent notable roles before “Dead To Me” were Sylvia in ‘Mad Men’, Meg Rayburn in ‘Bloodline’, and Hawkeye's wife Laura in two of the MCU Avengers movies. Cardellini insists that whatever she does, she wants it to be different from anything she has done before. 

And the chance of playing the role of Judy Hale was exciting and daunting at the same time because the show falls between heavy drama and absurdist comedy. So, it’s safe to assume that being on the show gave Linda a rare opportunity to showcase her talent at playing multiple emotions at the same time. 

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But, of course, much of ‘Dead to Me’s success rides on the incredible chemistry between Cardellini and Christina Applegate.  Surprisingly, the two had never crossed paths before this project! Both also serve as producers on the show, so when they finally sat down to talk about partnering up, they got along immediately.

“We were lucky because we really did become great friends,” Cardellini recalls.

What else do we know about her off-screen relationships? Linda Cardellini has never been married, but she is engaged to her long-time partner Steven Rodriguez. It’s quite amazing, but she first met her fiancé when she was just 10 years old! 

Steven was the new kid at her school and young Linda was impressed by the bike tricks he could do. They’d been friends for years, but it wasn’t until around 2010 when the two realized they were destined to be together.


In less than two years they welcomed a daughter, Lilah-Rose, and in June 2013 Linda tweeted a photo of her little one wearing her engagement ring. Despite having social media accounts, Linda Cardellini’s posts are mostly work-related, so we can only get a glimpse of her private life. So, who knows, she might have had a secret wedding already!


Brandon Scott as Nick

If his face seemed familiar to you when you first saw this ex-cop at a grief support group – there is a reason for that. Thirteen reasons, actually, as Brandon Scott played the role of Coach Kerba in another Netflix show – ‘13 Reasons Why’. Prior to this, he also appeared in seasons 5 and 6 of ‘Grey's Anatomy’ as Dr. Ryan Spalding, a surgical intern under Sandra Oh's Cristina Yang.

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Brandon also plays a recurring role of Mr. Lawrence in the series ‘This Is Us’. And although in ‘Dead To Me’ he only appeared in half of the episodes of the first season, the storyline of Detective Nick Prager doesn't feel over yet. Did he accidentally kill his partner on duty? Will he pose a problem to Linda’s character as he knows she hit Ted?


These questions remain unanswered, so we expect to see more of Brandon Scott in Season 2 of the show. And what do we know about his private life? Brandon is married to Jenn Liu, who is also an actress. And although Jenn doesn’t have an extensive list of acting credits, you might have spotted her in a one-off role in the series ‘The Mentalist’.

She is also a co-author of an autobiographical comedy web series ‘SK & J’. Brandon and Jenn don’t have children yet, but if you have a look at Jenn’s Instagram page, you’ll know that the couple enjoys traveling and spending lots of time with their friends and families. Also, they have two dogs - Forge and Timah.


James Marsden as Steve

No matter how cunning and manipulative Steve is supposed to be, James Marsden does a great job layering his 'unsavory' character with "some humanity and charm". Being in the industry for more than twenty years, James has a broad résumé. He has starred in superhero franchises, family blockbusters, love stories, thrillers, and even satire.

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Marsden often jokes that he’s used to playing “a guy who doesn’t get the girl”, and loses her to “some other guy who's got a little more charisma than him.” However, all of Marsden’s roles are very much different, as the actor likes to constantly challenge himself. And taking part in ‘Dead To Me’ was especially fun, because he could “inject some amount of ridiculous humor” into his character.

Can we expect to see Steve again in the second season of the show? Well, according to the series’ creator Liz Feldman, there may be more than meets the eye in that Season 1 finale. However, we still might see James in the second season, even if it's only in flashbacks. 

He certainly didn’t do much shooting for ‘Dead To Me’, as he was quite busy with his other projects last year – namely, the upcoming ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ film and the miniseries ‘Mrs. America’. 


And what do we know about James Marsden’s personal life? He was previously married to the actress Lisa Linde. They started dating when they were in their early 20s and had two children together – a son Jack, who is 19 already, and a daughter Mary, who is 14. The couple split after more than a decade of marriage, but they agreed to raise their children together and still remain close friends.

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Marsden also has a son William Luca with a Brazilian model Rose Costa, whom he briefly dated in 2012. And currently, James is dating a British musician Edei. The couple first met in the middle of 2015 – and they’ve been together ever since. 

Her real name is Emma Deigman, and she started her career as a supporting artist to the pop group Girls Aloud. Soon after, she switched to the stage name Edei, comprised of the E from her first name and the DEI from her surname.


And while Marsden prefers to keep their relationship low-key, his girlfriend’s Instagram feed is full of photos of them together. By the way, their birthdays are only one day apart! Last September, James Marsden turned 45, and Edei celebrated her 30th birthday the very next day.


Natalie Morales as Michelle

The newest addition to the show, who joined the cast of ‘Dead To Me’ in the second season, Natalie plays a character who is described as "wry and down to earth". She also has a "relaxed charm and infectious wit", which allows her to “form a connection with Judy.” 

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Michelle and Judy bond at the assisted living facility where Michelle’s difficult mother resides. You definitely know this actress, because Natalie Morales has made numerous appearances on different shows, including ‘Abby’s’, ‘The Grinder’, and ‘Santa Clarita Diet’. But her most well-known role was Lucy in ‘Parks and Recreation’.

Three years ago Natalie announced on Twitter that she identifies as queer. In that post, she also linked to a longer essay, where she described the process of gradually coming to embrace her identity in her 20s after moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. 

“I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else.” the actress wrote. “What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight.”

Natalie Morales revealed that she’s been in relationships “with all sorts of beautiful, amazing, inspiring human beings,” because, above all, she is attracted to people, disregarding their gender. Despite being openly queer, Natalie still guards her privacy, so we don’t know if she has a special someone in her life.


Christina Applegate as Jen

It’s almost impossible to believe, but Christina Applegate first appeared on TV when she was only 3 months old! She made her TV debut on ‘Days of Our Lives’ in the arms of her mother, singer, and actress Nancy Priddy. And now, more than four decades later, Christina has an impressive career both in film, TV, and on Broadway. 

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However, she is most recognized by fans for playing Kelly Bundy for 11 (!) seasons on the now-iconic sitcom ‘Married … With Children’, and her role as Veronica in the two ‘Anchorman’ movies. Surprisingly, she never intended to pursue comedy!

“I was a dark kid,” Applegate recalls. “I always thought serious projects were going to be my jam.”

But now she is known for her self-assured, hilarious characters. And most of whom are notably strong women – just like Jen, her character on ‘Dead To Me’. Moreover, there’s a plotline on the show that was inspired by Christina’s personal experience (but we’ll get to it a little bit later).

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The actress revealed that for the past six years she has been “the most frustrating client” to her agents and managers. The fact is that she didn’t want to be the lead in a TV series, but only wanted smaller roles so she could work "two to three days a week”.

The reason for this is, being a devoted mother, Christina wanted to spend more time with her daughter, who has recently turned 9. But when the script for “Dead to Me” came along, Applegate changed her mind. The veteran actress considered it thrilling to play in this dark comedy series, as it would give her an opportunity to show all the facets of her talent.

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Moreover, the showrunners agreed to incorporate Christina Applegate’s real-life struggle with breast cancer into the show. Through this, the actress hoped to send an important message to viewers, raising awareness about the problem and to connect with other cancer survivors. The actress got her diagnosis in 2008 and had to have a double mastectomy.

Despite this painful experience, it was also at this time that Christina met the Dutch musician Martyn LeNoble. As Applegate told US Weekly, he became “a mighty support system” to her. The couple welcomed their daughter, Sadie, in 2011, and got married two years later. They have also considered having more children but felt hesitant because of their age.

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Furthermore, six years after giving birth to Sadie, Applegate revealed that she had undergone additional surgery to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer, too. And what does Christina Applegate say about Season 2 of ‘Dead To Me’?

 In an interview with the Los Angeles Times the actress revealed: "We’ve had some stuff that is the most intense thing I’ve ever had to do as an actor in my life."

She also added that in this season she shot the hardest scene she has ever done. We wonder what it could be!

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