Richardson and Allen starred as husband and wife Tim and Jill Taylor from 1991 - 1999 on the massively successful ABC sitcom. Speaking to "Entertainment Tonight" about her time on the show, Richardson explained that she didn’t actually audition for the role of Jill but kind of stumbled into it when the producers got desperate.
"[The network said] we need to have someone that challenges him and is as much a feminist as he is a masculinist," Richardson recalled of the overtly masculine Tim Taylor character.
She remembered that, days before the show began filming, she was under contract with Disney for a different project that didn’t pan out. Meanwhile, “Home Improvement” was about to start and they still needed a wife character.
“They called me in and said, 'There is this guy, he's a standup, he won an award, he has a special on Showtime," she explained. "I had never heard of him, I had never heard of that show and I had already seen one show that had failed... that had been done with a standup and a family and everything."
Richardson admits she was initially skeptical to join the sitcom, but both she and producers felt her chemistry with Allen was so good that she couldn’t pass up the part.
After the show aired, it was a hit and Richardson said she noticed how its themes really resonated with American viewers.
"The primary thing I saw the most in the mail was, 'Are you looking through our windows? The things you and Tim fight about are just like our family,'" Richardson recalled. "Or, 'I get it, I have three sons too,' or, 'This is so freaky, because it's just like our family!'"
However, after eight seasons, Richardson was ready to exit the show. She noted that she and Allen butted heads over negotiations for her to come on for one more season, but she ultimately declined. She says that Allen refused to do a show without her and rejected a pitch to continue “Home Improvement” with the Jill character getting killed off. As a result, the series ended in 1999.
However, in 2011, Allen found a home on TV once again with the premiere of “Last Man Standing.” The comedian and actor will get the ninth season he always wanted in 2021 when the series airs its final batch of episodes before finishing for good.
“Last Man Standing” Season 9 is expected to premiere some time in January.