Denise Richards is showing new sides of herself on B&B and THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS
Denise Richards was 15 years old when she and her family left Downers Grove, IL, and headed west to settle in Oceanside, CA, and it changed the course of her life. After graduating high school, Richards began working as a model and traveled the globe doing high-fashion gigs. She ultimately transitioned into acting, landing episodic work on early ’90s series like SAVED BY THE BELL, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, SEINFELD, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 and MELROSE PLACE. Her big break, however, came in 1997, when she appeared in the film Starship Troopers and was nominated as Favorite Female Newcomer at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.
Richards has worked steadily ever since, but there was one medium she hadn’t tackled, so when B&B approached her to play Shauna, she was intrigued. “I’ve never done a daytime soap opera before but I thought it would be something fun and different,” she says. “I had a wonderful conversation with Bradley Bell [executive producer/head writer] and it was just out of my usual comfort zone, which made it even more appealing.”
Richards didn’t come in flying blind — she knew about soaps from good pal Lisa Rinna (ex-Billie, DAYS) and Darin Brooks (Wyatt), with whom she worked on the series BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE. “Obviously, he’s been on the show for quite some time, but I thought it would be fun to work with him,” she shares. “And I’ve had friends like Lisa Rinna who’ve been on soap operas before and they’ve all enjoyed their experience, so I thought it would be something challenging because the show shoots two episodes a day, and you really have to be on your game. It kind of sealed the deal.”
Thankfully, she wasn’t thrown into the deep end on day one. “My first day was actually quite easy — I just had one scene,” she recalls. “But then for what I would call my first week there, I was in New York doing press and flew back to L.A., and as soon as I landed, I had to go straight to BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL and I shot three episodes that day, which is a lot. I believe I had over 50 pages of dialogue, and it was a little daunting because it was the most pages I’ve ever done in a day, but I got through it, I knew my lines and I was thrilled about that.”
She was also happy to have some help from her new co-star. “I spoke to Rena Sofer [Quinn] before I shot that week and she was so great in telling me pointers and showing me the ropes. I really like her and it helps so much to have someone be able to be supportive and be there.”
Prior to landing her B&B gig, Richards had just finished filming her first season of THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEV-ERLY HILLS. “I was pretty much wrapped on that show when B&B came up,” she relays. “I just had a few confessionals to do and things like that. I’ve been a fan of the show for a long time, and I’m really good friends with [cast member] Lisa Rinna, and have since developed a relationship with the other women. Lisa has a great time on the show, so I thought, ‘Why not be a part of it?’ ”
Richards has become an instant hit with fans, who appreciate her more laid-back approach to life. “It’s very flattering and that means a lot because I was quite surprised by that,” she admits. “There was a part of me that didn’t know how the audience would perceive me because I love being glamorous, I love getting my hair and makeup done, I like doing red carpets and being an actress, but the other side of me is a jeans, tank top and flip-flop type of girl, which is pretty much understated compared to the other women [laughs]. The show has been on for nine seasons, it’s been very successful and I didn’t know if people would be into who I am because it’s different from some of the other women. But I never wanted to be something that I wasn’t, and that could go either way. Because people know who I am, I want to be myself on it no matter what.”
Seeing the episodes on air has been a learning experience, Richards reveals. “I have opened my mouth a couple of times and you hear it and just think, ‘Oh, man, well, next time maybe I will filter myself a teeny,’ ” she shrugs. “But that’s who I am. It’s why people like Lisa Rinna. She tells it like it is and she doesn’t hold back. I’m the same way, but in a different way, though.”
Richards allowed cameras to film her September 8, 2018 nups to Aaron Phypers, which were pulled together in a matter of days. “When I decided to do the show, I wanted to do it for real and I didn’t want to put restrictions on production regarding what they can and can’t do,” she explains. “Again, I just wanted to be myself, and if we ended up getting married when we weren’t filming, it wouldn’t have been on TV. So it was a big decision because it’s such an intimate moment with us and we didn’t want anything to affect it negatively, but I think they did a beautiful job with it and we were very happy with it. But it is surreal to look back at it and see it on television and see different moments that we may have missed because it was such a whirlwind.”
Her three daughters, Sam, 15, Lola, 13, and Eloise, 8, have all appeared on camera, which is a new experience. “They’re not on it a whole lot; I think it’s surreal for them to see themselves on TV,” something Richards hadn’t really considered. “I’m sorry, I didn’t actually think they’d watch it because it is such an adult show,” she confesses. “So there have been some things that I had to stretch the truth with and say, ‘That part was scripted,’ and, ‘Mom had to say that.’ There are a couple of naughty things in there that I don’t want them to think I really said. They’ll understand when they’re older.” Richards says she gave the girls the choice of whether or not they wanted to be a part of the series. “I told them there was no pressure. If they didn’t want to be a part of it, don’t. They don’t have to, but if they’re there and they want to, then they can. They’re at an age where the older ones are teenagers and they want to make sure they look good and that sort of thing. I told them to just be themselves, but it’s got to be odd for them at their ages, especially to be on television and in that way.”
Earlier this year, Richards revealed that Eloise has been diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder that has caused developmental delays. The actress has not shied away from discussing it on camera on the reality show. “Yes, it can be difficult at times, but being a parent is the most important job in the world, and that means being there for your kids, no matter what their needs are,” she stresses.
Richards is also forthcoming about her approach to co-parenting with ex-husband Charlie Sheen, which included inviting him to her recent nups. “For me, it’s not necessarily about us; it’s about the kids and making them feel comfortable and happy and secure,” she explains. “I do understand that some people aren’t in that place to have their ex come to their actual wedding, but I’m a big advocate for keeping it about the kids, and if there is any discord between the divorced parents, the kids should not be privy to it. I don’t think parents should ever be disrespectful to the other parent in front of the children or say something to be negative. I’ve always felt that way.”
With a full plate at home and at work, Richards says she is in a good place in her life. “I’m grateful to be busy,” she smiles.
Just The Facts
Birthday: February 17
Hails From: Downers Grove, IL
Marital Status: Wed Aaron Phypers on September 8, 2018.
My Girls: Mother of three daughters: Sam, 15, and Lola, 13, from her 2002-06 marriage to Charlie Sheen, and Eloise, 8, whom she adopted as a newborn.
On The Job: Her father, Irv, was a telephone engineer, and her late mother, Joni Lee, owned a coffee shop.
Daytime Dilemma: “My parents watched soaps, but for me it’s very difficult during the day to watch any. [My dad] was very excited [when I got the job]. I told him when he has time he has to come up to the set and watch how they shoot it, because it’s a whole different thing than any other thing I’ve ever done.”
Bonded For Life: Richards played Dr. Christmas Jones in the 1999 Bond film The World Is Not Enough.
Learning that she would have an adult daughter on B&B was a bit of a shock for Richards. “I said, ‘Can we just pretend I had you when I was 12?’ ” she laughs of first meeting Katrina Bowden (Flo). “Selfishly, that was my first thought.” Happily, she and Bowden have bonded during the time they’ve filmed together, which Richards says is par for the course on the B&B set. “I really like her a lot, we have fun together. I have to say, coming onto the set and looking at some of the actors who’ve been there since day one, and some of the other actors who’ve been there for so many years, that says a lot about the producers and the writing and the environment that is created on the set. It’s been really wonderful seeing how close the cast is and all the crew; they really do have a family environment there, so that’s very nice to see, and it says a lot that actors are on a show that long.”
Did You Know?
• At 15, she appeared in her first music video, “The Captain of Her Heart” by Double.
• In July 2011, she published a
memoir, The Real Girl Next Door.
• At Richards’s wedding, Lisa Rinna revealed to her RHOBH co-stars that she and the bride dated Patrick Muldoon (ex-Austin, DAYS) at the same time.