Almost 20 years ago, “Home Improvement” star Patricia Richardson walked away from the wildly successful sitcom and never looked back. In a recent interview with Closer Weekly, the 67-year-old discussed how she was able to leave the $30 million gig with such ease.
Richardson, who played Tim Allen’s wife Jill Taylor on “Home Improvement,” explained that her role as a real-life mom made her decision simple.
“The reason I turned down the ninth year of ‘Home Improvement’ was that I was a single parent and away from my kids too much,” she told Closer Weekly. “I left the show, and I have to put my children first since then.”
Richardson has three adult children, Henry Baker, 33, and 27-year-old twins Roxanne and Joseph Baker.
“That’s why I’ve kept quitting the business: to be with them,” she said.
Her departure from “Home Improvement” in 1999 was also motivated by a desire to care for her parents, who were “incredibly ill.”
“I also passed up on another show that won, like, 30 Emmys,” she said. “But I don’t mean to sound like, ‘Oh, I sacrificed this huge thing for my children,’ because it’s what I wanted. Granted, it’s what they needed, but it was also what I needed because I missed them terribly. ‘Home Improvement’ had much longer days than most sitcoms. Because I was involved in all the writing, I was away from them more than I wanted and felt I missed so many things.”
And while Richardson didn’t walk away from acting entirely — she has appeared in hit shows like “The West Wing” and “Strong Medicine” — the four-time Emmy nominee claims that celebrity status was never something she desired.
“I really hated fame,” she said, noting that her “Home Improvement” co-star Jonathan Taylor Thomas felt similarly and left the business to attend school.
“[And] when I had to [co-host] the  Emmys, it was the worst day of my life,” she recalled. “I was terrified. I was so stupid! In theater school, nobody ever talked to us about having to sell yourself.”
Richardson revealed that her acting career, though successful, was the source of much tension at home. In 1995, she and her husband Ray Baker called it quits.
“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,” she said.
And while she fondly remembers her “Home Improvement” days, Richardson knew that only one thing would make her truly happy, and that was being there for her children.
“So I really backed off to a great extent, and I essentially killed my career,” she said.
When asked if she had any regrets about her decision to walk away from “Home Improvement,” Richardson didn’t hesitate for a minute:
“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,” she said. “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 think I’ve done my best and, while I’m sure they have their complaints, they know whatever happens, I’m here for them,” she added. “Mom is always at their beck and call!”
After “West Wing” and “Strong Medicine,” Richardson completely left the acting business for four years.
“My mother passed away during ‘Strong Medicine’ and my dad passed away during ‘West Wing,’” she said. “I was so burned out by the time ‘West Wing’ was over [in 2006]. I had three teenagers and menopause. Even if it hadn’t been for the kids, I needed to quit.”
Now that her kids are grown, Richardson has enjoyed a return to acting — this time, on her own terms. Her new movie “A Christmas in Tennessee,” premieres Sunday a 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
(H/T: Closer Weekly)