Jill Taylor was the keystone of “Home Improvement,” for its entire run. She was a strong woman who was more than equipped to match wits with Tim. At the same time, she did so without being a shrew. Jill was more than just a “sitcom mom” she was written and portrayed like a real person. Women could see themselves in her. Men and children could see their wives or mothers in her as well. A big part of that character was Patricia Richardson’s acting and influence behind-the-scenes.
Patricia Richardson was so good in the role that you might think they looked high and low for the right actress. It must have been a grueling audition process, right? Nope. It turns out that she didn’t have to audition for the “Home Improvement,” role. She talked to Entertainment Tonight for their “Leading Ladies of the ’90s” series back in January. During the interview, she discussed getting the role and her time working with Tim Allen.
Patricia Richardson Gets an Offer She Can’t Refuse
The interviewer asked Patricia Richardson what led up to “Home Improvement.” She had been doing Broadway plays and commercials for a while. Then Richardson started doing sitcoms. However, she didn’t have much success. According to her, every other sitcom she had been on had ran for a single season and died. She had become disenchanted with the format. In fact, she was in talks to star in a primetime dramedy series at the time. However, that show fell through but she was still under contract with Disney.
The studio called Patricia Richardson with two pieces of news. Firstly, the series that she was supposed to be on was canceled. Secondly, they wanted her to start on “Home Improvement,” the next day. To say that she was unhappy with the turn of events would be an understatement. Before the call, she was getting ready to work with the team who created “The Wonder Years,” after the call, she was back to doing a sitcom.
However, the folks at Disney made her a pretty decent offer. Patricia Richardson said they told her if the show didn’t get picked up in May, they would let her out of her contract immediately. On top of that, they would pay her another pilot fee just to sweeten the deal. On the other hand, if she refused, they would hold her contract until December. That would mean months without work or pay. So, she took the role.
“Home Improvement” ran for eight seasons and was a consistent favorite among fans. The chemistry between Patricia Richardson and her on-screen family is a large part of what drove the show to success.