Home Improvement was one of the biggest shows of the 90s. It helped introduce a lot of us to Tim Allen, and more importantly for all of us who were pre-teen girls at the time, Johnathon Taylor Thomas.
The show was extremely popular, and was one of the weekly must-watch shows that families would gather around the TV to enjoy together.
Patricia Richardson starred as Jill Taylor, Tim’s wife and mother to the rest of the Taylor crew. While she admitted that she loved working on the show, the actress declined the network’s offer for the ninth season.
Reports suggest that Richardson was offered $25 million to do the season, and she said no. While that sounds like a lot of money for any of us non-actors to walk away from, she had a good reason.
“The reason I turned down the ninth year of Home Improvement was because I was a single [divorced] parent and away from my kids too much,” Richardson said. “I left the show, and I have put my children first since then. That’s why I’ve kept quitting the business: to be with them.”
Despite leaving the show, she still has great memories of her time as a part of the Taylor family.
“Tim and I were always cracking each other up,” she recalled. “We came up with so much of what you saw on the set every day. There was the time that Tim was throwing potatoes around at the male crew members and hit a female camerawoman in the face, so that became kind of a joke.”
Although, she admitted there were a few challenges when it came to working with the kids.
“I got hit in the head with a football more than once because it took so long for Disney to give the kids an outdoor space to play that was safe — and they weren’t that good at it! It was just a fun set, and we really were a family.”
But the success that followed the stars of Home Improvement was a bit more than some of them could take.
“I really hated fame. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and I had similar reactions — he backed off, too, and went to school,” Richardson said. “I didn’t do charity events, because I was desperate for time with my kids and husband, who was always mad I was never home. Hence the divorce.”
Richardson returned to television in a few roles, but she always tried to keep her schedule as limited as possible. When she was required to work too much, she would always feel guilty. Her time on West Wing was particularly difficult.
“I was only supposed to appear in a couple of episodes, but it turned into two years and many episodes. I was leaving at six in the morning and never had live-in help, so that got really hard. After West Wing, I decided to leave the business for four years until my kids got out of high school to be with them. Then when my last one went to college, I had been out of the business for so many years, it was very hard to get back in.”
But she doesn’t regret her choice to step away from the spotlight.
“Every once in a while I’ll laugh, but when I’m laying on my deathbed, will I be sorry that I wasn’t on that show that won 30 Emmys, but I have a good relationship with my three children and see them all the time? No. Granted, I’ve been far from the perfect parent, but I didn’t have perfect modeling and kind of had to relearn parenting to a great extent.”
I would assume this decision would have been hard to make, but Richardson is clearly happy with how her life has turned out.