I’m best known for my portrayal of Jill Taylor on the long running series “Home Improvement” in which I co-starred with Tim Allen. I received four Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations as “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.” I will be reuniting with Tim Allen this week on his ABC show “Last Man Standing” playing his neighbor Helen Potts. The show airs this Friday, February 26th at 8pm.

I also starred as Dr. Andy Campbell in Lifetime Television’s “Strong Medicine” for three seasons and had a recurring role on “The West Wing.” I was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in “Ulee’s Gold,” directed by Victor Nunez and co-starring Peter Fonda, and garnered rave reviews for my portrayal of Marilyn Monroe’s mother in the CBS miniseries “Blonde.” I am the National Spokesperson for CUREPSP and serve on their Board of Directors. PSP is the rare brain disease that killed my father and I have been working to raise money and awareness for all brain disease, particularly the “tau” related ones such as PSP, Alzheimer’s, and CTE.

Thanks for all your questions, I really enjoyed answering them. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (both @prichardsonla) for updates on new projects and shows I'm working on and to put up with all my political opinions :)

My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/54RoBZJ.jpg & https://twitter.com/prichardsonla/status/701819871735119874

Comments: 100 • Responses: 11  • Date: 

KamikazeBumblebee42 karma

Hi Patricia, thanks for doing an AMA. Do you stay in touch with your home improvement castmates? Any plans on doing a reunion show? Do you have any funny/crazy stories about working with that group? Loved seeing you on Last Man Standing. By far my favorite episode.

PatriciaRichardson153 karma

I do stay in touch with Zach and Jonathan who in fact have written a really wonderful pilot that is sort of R rated and are shopping it around town. Jonathan also directs Last Man Standing and I got to see him there. Of course I've seen Tim. There are no plans to do a reunion show at this point. Usually those things don't work very well. Of course we're missing Earl and that would make us all sad. It would be hard to imagine someone writing us a good script. It was always funny and crazy. And when I think of the funny and crazy things I think of the early years. Jon Pasquin or our second director Andy Cadiss were great. Pasquin would have the kids on roller skates, skating through the set. We had this idea of Tim walking into the fridge, we had a snake on the set and the snake crawled out of the wall and through Tim's shirt. We were all hysterical. And we had stupid stuff that most people didn't notice. Like there was this one drawer that was called the junk drawer and it held EVERYTHING. It held more than I ever would have thought those 8 years of the show. It became a joke. And there were little things like hiding cookies from the kids. It'd get really elaborate like one time we put them in the heating vent. And the one episode we did the snow episode we did it in a separate building. There was powder everywhere and at one point Tim's leg caught on fire which was a little dicey. We always different special effects people all the time because things were going wrong and Tim would always get hurt.

This is a little dirty story from the set: We had a live horse on the set for Tool Time. Well, they had this horse backstage and we couldn't get it on the scene because we couldn't stop it from having an erection (it was ENORMOUS) The guy who was supposed to be the wrangler for the horse kept hitting his erection with a brush. And everyone on set was yelling "Ah, don't do that." No one knew how to fix it so they could do the scene. There was a woman that had her period backstage and coincidentally when we moved her away from the horse it fixed the problem. We were all on the floor laughing. And it made the wrangler stop abusing the horse.

What was not fun was when the boys didn't have a place to play which happened in the first year or two. The boys would be throwing the football on set and guess who's head kept getting hit? Me. They were little so they weren't very good at throwing it so I get hit a couple of times.

suaveitguy30 karma

You are three quarters of the way through the 7th season on Home Improvement: are you feeling excited/challenged by the role at this point, or are you getting a little checked out?

PatriciaRichardson63 karma

I was the only person still there during the 7th season that didn't have a contract for the 8th season. Johnathan also didn't hav a contract for the 8th season but he decided to leave so we knew he wouldn't be there. I told everyone I would stay on for the next season. It was very difficult for my lawyer to negotiate that contract because Disney would not hear no to the 9th season. They wanted to attach it to 8th season's contract. I kept saying "not enough money in the world did they not understand?" It took my lawyer the entire 7th season to the work out the contract. The show was getting tired. We were all getting tired but we thought we could all squeak out one more year. Mostly I just missed having a life and my kids. I felt like I hadn't seen my family in years.

alek_hiddel24 karma

What's it like watching a young co-star experience the incredible heights of teen stardom like Jonathan Taylor Thomas did? He seems to be an incredibly well balanced person, especially for a former teen star. Any thoughts/stories on getting to work with and potentially mentor someone in that situation?

PatriciaRichardson50 karma

I think that it was very fortunate that Jonathan is so smart and well balanced. Jonathan knew that pitfalls of the situation that he was in. When he left the show he ended up going back to school and got a really good education and thought a lot about what he wanted to do with his life. When he was on the show at one point he said to me he was interested in being a politician. And I thought that was great as he's so honorable as well as being smart. How lucky would we be if Jonathan would be a politician but he's not on that track. He wants to write, direct and produce and I know he'll be good at all of those things. I can't speak for Jonathan if he was uncomfortable with fame like I was but we both coincidentally withdrew from the industry right after the show. I was trying to find a way to be just an actor instead of big celebrity as well as I wasn't a fan of doing press, red carpets, etc.

klamonic119 karma

Hi Ms. Richardson, if you could go back and film any episode of Home Improvement again, which episode would you choose? Thanks!

PatriciaRichardson45 karma

That's a hard one. I'd chose the one I directed. Not because I'd direct it differently. It was the one where Wilson and Tim fight. The idea of them fighting was my idea. I went into story meetings with Tim after every read through and before every season and worked with the writers on many of the stories. That was one of my favorite parts of doing the show. It was extremely collaborative. My idea for the episode was it would be over Wilson constantly giving the boys advice and it would obviously be a problem at some point with Tim. However the writers decided it was about Wilson getting some money from a hockey game where he sat in Tim's seat and won $10,000 and built a greenhouse. It was a difficult episode because I had to hide Wilson's face in so many different sets. I wish I had started directing earlier, I loved working with the writers. I had Pete Filsinger who helped me with the camera work which was great. I would love to do it again now that I have more directing experience.

Triborough14 karma

Do you still feel you can change SAG-AFTRA for the better?

PatriciaRichardson37 karma

If we can get more members of Membership First onto the national board so that we have a democratic board then we have a chance. We've had an oligarchy running this union for years. You can't have a union that's run by one group of people. This one group of people are mostly the trustees of the pension and health plans and they have very tight relationships with the staff whom they overpay. They are getting better health and pension deals then we are out of out our SAG H&R fund then we get. They can retire at 55 which we can't do. If we retire at 55 we lose 30% of our pension, they don't. When this is brought up the UFS responds "Oh well they work so hard they deserve more of our pension than we get." Which to me is the most insane thing I've ever heard at a board meeting. Like we didn't? We didn't work as hard as the guards downstairs? Because I work damn hard to get my pension. We need to get more people interested, running for the board, working for the union, paying attention to what's going. Some people didn't even know there was an election. There are too few people voting. And there were many labor laws broken. We just decided not to fight it. And the membership only cares about getting their screeners. Meanwhile, hundreds of seniors are getting pushed out of the health fund because the SAG health fund is losing money. And they are getting kicked off with no notice. When the merger of SAG-AFTRA happened they were supposed to merge the plans, which they didn't. Instead we're only getting empty promises and a SAG health plan that is degrading. Do I think it can be changed? Only if the members start paying attention and get involved.I'm as mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore. That's what they need to be saying.

And by the way, what happened to our residuals?

Sorry for the all the rest of you that's enough SAG talk.

ampersand198213 karma

Regarding greater diversity for women in film/TV - race, age, dare I say size... How do you feel about the "hollywood ideal" of women above the age of shall we say 40? I'm thinking about cosmetic surgery, filler, all these procedures that (when done properly) help women slow down the signs of age, but really portray a skewered image of what women look like.
I am a longtime fan and I have to say I have to say I've gained even greater respect for you after following your work with SAG-AFTRA.

PatriciaRichardson41 karma

I would say don't do it. Don't. Because the casting people can't find real faces and can't move. If you have a face that is real you will get so much more work. Nowadays they are having a lot of troubling finding that.

The_Dude31113 karma

What was your experience like filming the "Good Morning, Peoria" episode of Quantum Leap? Any funny stories of Scott, Dean, or Chubby Checker from on set?

PatriciaRichardson25 karma

Yes. I had a blast doing the episode. Scott and I did a series together "Eisenhower and Lutz." It's a 13 episode series from the creators of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was a great show but it ended because of the writers stirke. This was the first time we ahd worked together since that series. It was amazing to work with him. And Chubby Checker. He taught us all how to do the twist. This is how he worded it - "You have to put one of your knees out in front of you and you twist your arms back and forth and lean and put your knee out in front of you and lean your big dick into it." Which I thought was hilarious. He had everyone on set doing the twist.

ampersand198212 karma

You have portrayed a domestic abuse victims at least twice that I know of.
What is it like rehearsing/shooting scenes like that?
Does it get to you? Obviously you are not actually hit in those situations, but does it make you reflect on what it is like to be a woman in that situation?

PatriciaRichardson22 karma

It's very difficult to do those kind of scenes. Any actor who works in the moment is allowing whatever is happening to happen to them. It affects you, you go home with it and you have to shake it off. But it makes you understand something that is why you see actors going and working with certain charities. They get a feeling of what someone is going through and they want to help them. I worked at a few shelters a couple of times. It's a huge problem in this country. I worked at a shelter in Virginia Beach and it's a big military town. The men are going away and coming back and it's hard on their relationships. The judges back then were not on the side of the women and not helping the shelters at all. They were letting the men have free rein over the relationships. It was so hard to help because the judges weren't helping. Slowly over time it got better and people turned the judges around. Also, some of the people from the town started opening places around town where they could hide the women. My cousin did that and I thought it was amazing. My family who still live in the area were helping with these homes. We donated a lot of my parents furniture, etc to the shelters to help out. Both my cousin and aunt got really involved. It's called the Samaritan house. I would help out a lot because that's when I was taking care of my parents down there.

lingsmitty7212 karma

Hello there! Love your character on home improvement. Have you found lots of women who thank you for giving them the ability to laugh at the outrageousness of having a man child as a husband and the insane responsibilities that a mother faces these days?

PatriciaRichardson37 karma

I have had so many women say "Oh my gosh, I'm married to a Tim." Or "I have 3 sons, it's so nice that someone else is dealing with this." I once had a woman who told me she went back to school because Jill did. We've also had people say "Are you looking through our windows?"

liljohn51158 karma

How much did you enjoy reuniting with Tim and Johnathan on Last Man Standing?

PatriciaRichardson16 karma

So much. I loved working with them again. I didn't get to work with Jonathan again but I really love working with Nancy. She's the nicest person on the planet.

ampersand19826 karma

Hello Ms. Richardson :-)

You've mentioned in interviews that you would like to do a drama series again. I have always imagined you in a strong level-headed law enforcement role or perhaps medical examiner.

But if you could have any pick, what role would you like to play on a drama series?

PatriciaRichardson14 karma

I would love to do a drama series. I'd much rather do a drama than a comedy. I loved Strong Medicine and West Wing. I particularly loved playing a doctor. I know this sounds weird but I loved faking surgery. We had a video where we watched how they do it in real life and then we'd fake it. I was really surprised that I enjoyed doing that. I would tease my friends saying that I could diagnose and treat them. You know "I'm not a real doctor but I played one on TV." I'd love to play a judge. The Good Wife is a great show for that. The judges there always have great roles. I'd love to go in and work every day and not have to rehearse all week and then perform a show on Friday night. All actors know that comedy is harder.