Patricia Richardson admits she was nervous about her Jan. 9 guesting on Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing.” The actress, who spent eight seasons playing Tim’s onscreen wife on “Home Improvement,” says she had absolutely no trepidations about working with Tim again — it was just that it had been so long since she’d done sitcom work, she wondered how it would be going back into the fray. Turns out, she had a blast playing a power tool-weilding neighbor of Tim’s current character — and the door has been left open for her to return in her new Helen Potts role again.
Fellow “Home Improvement” alumni Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Richard Karn already turned up on “Last Man Standing.” As for why it took awhile for the “Last Man” team to get around to asking Richardson, “I think Tim is very protective of Nancy Travis and their relationship on the show,” she says of his current TV Mrs. “Bringing in the wife from the former show might have caused complications.” If he did have any concerns in that regard, according to Richardson, they were quickly forgotten. “Nancy is incredibly centered and well-adjusted — one of the most centered and well-adjusted people I’ve ever met in this industry. I don’t believe she felt threatened by me in the slightest. My favorite scenes were the ones I did with the two of them together.” Plus, her character befriends Nancy’s.
Richardson, who, you may recall, went the drama series route with “Strong Medicine,” says she’s wide open to the idea of doing another series now — either comedy or drama, but likely not a network show. The series she watches are generally on cable, free of the demands and restrictions of broadcast network shows.
“I’m much edgier than a lot of ‘Home Improvement’ fans realize,” she notes. “And I’m different from what they expect politically. That show is very popular among red state Republicans and I’m a blue state liberal Democrat. Sometimes people start following me on Twitter and I know they’re surprised.”
Now that her children are grown (her 23-year-old twin daughter and son graduated college this year and her 30-year-old son married), she would be able to focus full attention on work. In the past, Patricia was not only balancing child rearing as a single parent with her series chores — she was also flying East regularly as she took care of the needs of her late parents, who were each fraught with long-term illnesses.
Patricia today is a strong advocate for research to cure the ailment that took her father’s life, Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). She also serves as the national spokesperson for CurePSP. There is an overlap in PSP research and the quest for a cure for Alzheimer’s, points out the actress, who believes brain disease research in general is drastically under-funded. Right now, she is taking advantage of her “Last Man Standing” attention to shed light on the cause, and also, to generate notice for the “Home Improvement” jacket and shirt she will be auctioning off on eBay for CurePSP. Check her @prichardsonla Twitter feed for more information.