'WandaVision's Emma Caulfield Ford Speaks Out About Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

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Wandavison actress Emma Caulfield Ford shared that she has been battling multiple sclerosis for over a decade. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, the 49-year-old revealed that she has kept the diagnosis out of the public eye for fear of losing her job.  

Caulfield shared that she was first diagnosed with the disease that affects the central nervous system in 2010. After waking up and experiencing what she says was like ants crawling on her face, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress went to the doctors who just suggested that it was bells palsy.  

After getting an MRI and heading back to work, Caulfield said she got the call from the doctor’s office that changed her life forever.  

“So I go to work and I'm shooting a scene. I remember I had this amazing Hervé Léger dress and it was just fantastic. And I looked…extra. The character was a bit extra as well. My hair was really curled and I was in three and a half inch stilettos. I was like, ‘I’m feeling myself right now,’” she said about the moments leading up to the call.  

Emma Caulfied reveals MS diagnosis
Getty Images

“I had a missed call from the doctor’s office, so I called back. I’m just like, ‘What’s up?’ I had five minutes down or whatever. And he was like: “You have MS.” Just like that. It was like an out-of-body experience. I’m like, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He was very matter of fact about it. ‘Well, you can get a second opinion…’ It was literally a kind of nightmare…. It turns out it was something major. Then I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to work now.’ What do I do?” 

Caulfield said that she continued to work like nothing happened. Reflecting on the year she received the news, the actress said that she was "under a tremendous amount of stress" which could have exacerbated the disease. 

The actress admitted to calling a few friends. However, she never shared her diagnosis with casting directors, showrunners and even some members of her family. 

The Once Upon a Time star admitted that while the news was a surprise, it wasn’t that much of a shock. Caulfield’s father, who has since passed, battled MS. In the years that followed, Caulfield revealed that she was able to mainly keep the symptoms at bay. But when she got the role on Wandavision, and began working in the heat, things became tough. 

“Everything was fine. But the heat was unbearable. And I was feeling every inch of that. I got really weak. I just went into survival mode and I remember having to be outside... It was just unfortunate timing really. But I was very, very uncomfortable and no one knew. I said nothing. And I paid the price for that,” she said.  

“When I was done with that, I just did not feel well. It took me a few days of being still [to recover]. I was like, “I need to replenish my energy right now. I expelled too much.” I was physically trying to keep myself looking and feeling normal when I was [on camera]. Everyone was melting, but it is exponentially worse for someone with this. It becomes like, “Oh, God, am I suddenly going to go limp?” I knew I looked quite miserable—to the point where our poor director was like, “How are you doing? I know this is not very glamorous to be sitting out here.” I’m like, “Oh great. Now he thinks I’m one of those high-maintenance actors who’s miserable." I don’t know if he thought that, but I was concerned. I’m like, “No, it’s good! It’s just hot. I’m good! I’m good!” 

After suffering through the heat, Caufield decided it was time to let her friend and Wandavison showrunner, Jac Schaeffer, know, sspecially since she was cast in the spin-off series.  

“I am going back to work,” she confirmed. “Everyone has been notified that needs to be notified. I can’t put myself through what I did with WandaVision again. I can’t do that. They did nothing wrong... They had no idea what was going on with me. They didn’t ask anything of me that was like, “I need to call my agent!” They’re asking me to just sit and chat and do my dialogue. It’s not hard."

She continued, “[I told them now] knowing that I shouldn’t be out in this heat at all. And if I am, I need to be taking way more precautions than I am.” 

Emma Caulfield MS Diagnosis
Getty Images

The most important reason she decided to share was her 6-year-old daughter, Knightley, whom she shares with her husband, Mike Ford. 

“I’m so tired of not being honest. And beyond that, my daughter has changed my perspective, as I think anybody who is a parent can attest,” she told the publication. 

“I know that she has a 30% greater chance of coming down with this, just luck of the draw for her. She’s six. She’s just started first grade... It got me thinking about her and how full of joy and active she is, and she’s just such a remarkable little creature.” 

She added, “I’m not actually doing everything I can for her because I have my mouth shut. If I have a platform at all, I should be using it. Even if it affects my ability to get work... It’s better for me to at least be vocal about this and be out there to try to help the MS Foundation and other groups who are doing research.” 

Today, Caulfield said that she is living with MS and has no worries when it comes to her diagnosis. 

"I’m okay right now. It’s a weird thing to say when you’re given a diagnosis like that, but truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of “what if” or “what can,” or “what has” for other people," she said. "I just have to keep going."

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