Patricia Richardson Recalls ‘Immediate’ On-Screen Chemistry With Tim Allen In ‘Home Improvement’ (Exclusive)

The saying goes that behind every great man is a great woman, and that has been especially true of many of the most beloved family comedies in television history. Al had Peg, Ray had Deb, George had Weezy, and in Home improvement, Tim Allen’s Tim “The Toolman” Taylor had his wife, Jill, perform with a perfect exasperated yet loving eye roll from Patricia Richardson.

“[The network said] We need to have someone who challenges him and is both a feminist and a masculinist, “Richardson recently recalled of his character, who was often the healthy and balanced counterpart to Tim’s wacky schemes.” There must be a difficult match. “

The actress recalled her time on the mega-popular sitcom, which ran from 1991 to 1999 on ABC, as part of ET’s Iconic women of the 90s week, which also includes interviews with Melissa Joan Hart, Tisha Campbell, Suzanne Somers and Jane Seymour.

It turns out that Richardson’s initial casting on the show was an unexpected case of being in the right place at the right time. The actress recalled how she was under contract to Disney with plans for another project, which failed, when she was hired as a last-minute replacement for the role of Jill, just days before filming began.

“They called me and said, ‘There’s this guy, he’s a standup, he won an award, he’s got a special on Showtime,” he recalled of his impromptu presentation of Allen. “I’ve never heard of it, never heard of that show, and I’ve already seen a show that failed … that was done with a standup and a family and all.”

Richardson admitted that her concerns about the role and her interest in a more serious fee almost led her to pass Home improvement total. “I didn’t want to do any more sitcoms, and I certainly didn’t want to be an ungrateful mother,” she noted. “I didn’t audition for it. I walked in and they said, ‘We want you to start tomorrow.’

However, his on-screen comic chemistry with Allen was instantly apparent: “Right away, I loved him,” Richardson said. And audiences loved them together as a comedy family: Tim, Jill, their three children, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan), Randy (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Mark (Taran Noah Smith), along with Tim’s co-workers, Al (Richard Karn). ) and Heidi (Debbie Dunning) and, of course, her mysterious and introverted neighbor, Wilson (Earl Hindman).

“The thing I saw most in the mail was, ‘Are you looking through our windows? The things you and Tim fight over are like our family,'” Richardson recalled. “Or, ‘I get it, I have three kids too,’ or, ‘This is so strange, because it’s like our family!'”

“It was very rewarding for me, because Tim and I work so hard,” he added.

Home improvement landed on a coveted schedule on Tuesday, between Full house Y Roseanne, for its first season, before moving on to host the 9 p.m. Wednesday night time slot on ABC, eventually becoming one of the most-watched sitcoms of the decade. Viewers connected with family dynamics and how the show tackled real-life issues like bullying, rebellion, and cancer scares. Almost overnight, the stars of the show became familiar names and faces, sparking unwanted attention.

“This is my first experience with the tabloids,” Richardson recalled. “Oh man, did I have an education there?”

The actress recalled the particular scrutiny and body shame of the media in her first year on the show, having given birth to twins a few months before filming began.

“They said, for example, that the producers made me keep the weight off, and I was like, ‘How do they make me keep the weight off? They come to my house and force me to feed?'” He laughed in disbelief. .

“What was great was that the producers said, ‘We don’t care,'” he shared. “I was like, ‘I’m working hard trying to lose weight,’ and they were like, ‘We don’t care, whatever you want, you look real, we don’t care.’

Home improvement It continued to be a huge hit for the network, but after eight seasons on comedy, Richardson was ready for a change. In 1999, he decided to leave, despite intense pressure from the network, and from Allen himself, to stay for more. The pair faced contract negotiations for a ninth season, but Richardson stood his ground.

“So they went to Tim, and they said let’s do it with Jill dead,” he revealed. “And then Tim said, I don’t think we can do that. So he came out and said, well, I think it’s time to finish. Home improvement. “

The couple reunited in 2016 in Allen’s new comedy, Last man standing, which was exciting for fans, although Richardson admitted that he was concerned that his former co-star “would never really forgive me for not wanting to do the ninth year.”

“I loved Tim Taylor,” he said. “Tim Taylor was a happily married man with his great children and a great life, so he wanted that show to last forever.”

She may not be that close to Allen anymore, but Richardson has kept in touch with her children on screen over the years. She encouraged Thomas to run for her seat on the board of directors of SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles, on which she serves as president, after seeing it promising from a young age.

“When Jonathan first appeared on the show and I knew how smart he was, I was like, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ And he would say, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, maybe he’s a politician.’ I said, ‘I should be president of the United States,’ “he recalled with a laugh.

“He’s been with me on the national board now, and everyone, even the other side, is impressed with Jonathan. He’s amazing,” Richardson added. “But when I called him the first time, I was like, ‘Okay, here’s the plan: You will run for the national board and then you will be very important on the national board. And then you will be president of SAG.’ ‘-AFTRA and then you will be governor of California and then you will be president of the country. So I have your whole life planned for you. ‘

She and Smith have stayed in touch online as he left acting to pursue disaster relief, submarine instruction and a vegan cheese company. And he also shared fond memories of Bryan, despite his recent legal troubles.

“I loved watching Zach work,” he remembers. “If you give Zach direction, he’s so instinctive, so directive and so brave. Athletes and standing, that’s what Tim had going for him too, they’re both so brave and brave that they’ll do anything right. you tell them to. They just jump … They just leave, and Zach is like that … He does it squarely. With his heart. “

After leaving the show, Richardson continued the celebrated careers at Strong medicine Y The west wing, before she stops acting to spend more time with her family. These days, she’s enjoying life as a grandmother, welcoming her first grandchild almost a year ago.

But he will always have fond memories of Jill Taylor. “If you get a hit show, it’s so unusual,” he shared. “It’s like winning the lottery to have something like Home improvement. “

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