‘Home Improvement’: The Role Ashley Judd Was Originally Cast to Play

by Emily Morgan

Fans of “Home Improvement” remember Pamela Anderson for playing Lisa in the classic TV show; however, there was someone else initially cast for her role. Tim Allen’s stand-up comedy inspired the beloved sitcom, although Allen had little experience acting before the show began. 

Despite this, “Home Improvement” ended up being one of the most-watched shows of the 1990s. It followed Allen’s character, “The Tool Man” Taylor, who was a home improvement series host. Beyond power tools, the show also looked into family issues. His character often had to step in to improve his family, including his wife Jill and their three sons.

Before Anderson was cast as Lisa, many actors auditioned for the role, including actress Ashley Judd. According to the creator of “Home Improvement,” Matt Williams, he immediately saw a spark in Judd when she auditioned. He was so impressed by Judd that he decided to offer her an upgrade from Tool Time’s Lisa. As it turns out, Williams wanted her to play Tim’s sister

“When Ashley came in and read for the part I thought, ‘My God, this girl is so talented,” Williams recalled of her audition, per Do You Remember. “So I called her agent and told him that she was so good, we would find a way to incorporate her into the series, period.”

Ashley Judd felt ‘agonized’ over her ‘Home Improvement’ decision

Sadly, her agent later delivered some bad news when they informed him that she had to pass on the show to focus on her movie career. She was later cast in the TV drama Sisters. She also appeared in movies such as Ruby In Paradise and Heat. In addition, she played the lead roles in Kiss The Girls and Double Jeopardy.

Yet, Williams would eventually get his wish and work with Judd. The two came together on the 2000 drama Where The Heart Is. According to Judd, giving up a role in “Home Improvement” was one of the most challenging decisions of her career. 

“She told me she went for a long walk on the beach and thought, ‘Am I ready to commit to a series? I’ve never made any money as an actress, so how do I turn my back on this?'” Williams recalled of Judd’s decision-making process. “She said she agonized over it for a couple of days.”

Although Judd passed on the role, it opened the door for Pamela Anderson to get one of her first significant roles. However, the role didn’t require much acting from the model. She would play Lisa for two seasons before joining the cast of “Baywatch.”

As for “Home Improvement,” the show aired from 1991 to 1999, sadly ending after eight seasons. The show offered the lead stars, Patricia Richardson and Tim Allen, $25 million and $50 million, respectively, to stay on for the ninth season. However, they both declined, and the series ended.