In 2018, Kyle Richards surprised Jamie Lee Curtis at the premiere of “Halloween,” the return to the original 1978 slasher film that she had appeared in as an 8-year-old child actor, playing the part of Lindsey Wallace.
Richards was invited on the red carpet as one of the stars of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” not because of her ties to the horror franchise. But she used the premiere as an audition of sorts. As Richards stepped onto the carpet, news outlets asked her why she wasn’t in the film. She took the mic from “Entertainment Tonight” to do an interview with Curtis, then turned to screenwriter Danny McBride and asked an impromptu question: “Why wasn’t I in this movie?”
McBride ended up making a call to director David Gordon Green and suggested giving Richards a role in the next film. In this year’s “Halloween Kills,” Richards reprised her character as an adult, who more than 40 years ago was a child that Laurie Strode (Curtis) used to babysit. The sequel has grossed more than $130 million worldwide, turning a profit and becoming Peacock’s biggest film that launched simultaneously in theaters and on the NBCUniversal streaming platform.
Now, Richards revealed to Variety, she’ll return as Lindsey in the final chapter in the trilogy, “Halloween Ends,” scheduled for October 2022. After positive reception to her role, the filmmakers retooled the script to include Richards in an expanded role, and while being careful not to reveal any plot details, Richards teases she may share scenes with Curtis in the upcoming film.
This week, when the casting was announced, Curtis said Richards is the “perfect partner for the end of the trilogy.”
The last “Halloween” gave Richards the chance to remind audiences of her real passion. “I thought, ‘This is really my chance to show what I do’ — remind people that I’m an actor,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’m going make the most of this small, but important role, and that’s what I did.”
Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, which is behind “Halloween,” was not worried that Richards’ affiliation with the “Housewives” would be a distraction to the horror franchise.
“Fans are so tapped into the history of the franchise, that wasn’t a concern for us,” Blum tells Variety. “We knew they’d be excited by such an iconic character returning to reprise her role, and that she had some great scenes where she was standing up to Michael Myers.”
Her loyal fanbase was actually an added bonus, Blum explains. “I was pleasantly surprised to see the outsized enthusiasm to Kyle’s return. She helped us reach a demographic that isn’t always receptive to horror movies,” he says.
In other words, Richards might have pulled off a first in Hollywood history: turning “Housewives” viewers into horror fans.
“It’s a really interesting mixture of fans coming together, which is exciting,” Richards says, constantly grappling with the double-edged sword that is “The Real Housewives.” On one hand, she’s incredibly grateful for the immense fandom that has come with the spotlight, and she has continued to stay for so many years, largely in part to NBCUniversal’s long-standing support for her other aspirations.
“Kyle is a fan-favorite because she is relatable. While she has a fabulous, glamorous life, she’s also a working mom, wife, friend and sister, and viewers, including myself, connect with her and enjoy following her story and experiences,” says Susan Rovner, chairman of entertainment content for NBCUniversal TV and streaming. “While she has more recently gained notoriety in the unscripted world [with the] ‘Housewives,’ she is multi-talented.”
Richards is becoming the darling of Peacock. In addition to “Halloween’s” strong performance on the streamer, she’s one of the stars of the platform’s history-making “Housewives” mashup series, “Ultimate Girls Trip.” The show brought back together fan-favorite alums from past seasons, and launches the franchise into the streaming era. And today, “The Real Housewives” parent company NBCU is putting Richards in her own film, Peacock’s first-ever holiday movie, “The Housewives of the North Pole,” in which she stars alongside Betsy Brandt.
“I didn’t want that to be the title at all,” Richards starts to say, slowly. “I didn’t want it to confuse people. I wanted my acting to be separate. I actually fought against that title, but the truth is the power of the ‘Housewives’ is really powerful and the fans are incredible. I didn’t win that battle.”
If Richards had it her way, she would’ve never been a part of reality TV.
“I always said there were two things I didn’t want to do: a soap opera and reality television,” Richards says, letting out a loud cackle. (She’s appeared on a few episodes of “Days of our Lives.”)
When she was first asked to be on “The Real Housewives” more than a decade ago, she turned down the offer, which came because Bravo caught wind of other production companies scouting her and her sisters — Kim Richards (also a former child actor) and Kathy Hilton, the mother to Paris and Nicky Hilton. When Richards agreed to sign on, she was on the phone with Bravo execs in the parking lot of one of her daughter’s pre-schools. With young children at home, she liked the idea of a job where the cameras could come to her. Plus, she figured it would be a three-month commitment.
Twelve years later, Richards is the only original cast member on “Beverly Hills.” But she isn’t hawking haircare gummies and wine lines, like other cast members who have come and gone. She uses the reality platform to promote her craft — to be taken seriously by Hollywood in other ways.
“When it got to the point where I was on the show for so long and I became known as being Kyle, I wondered what do I do with my acting. Can I continue to do that? I had been doing that for so long, since I was a baby,” Richards says. “There was this stigma that once you get so known as yourself, you can’t play different characters.”
Richards — who was a child star on “Little House on the Prairie” and the sitcom “Down to Earth” — got her start as an actor to help her break out of her shell. “My sister, Kim, her face was on kid’s lunch boxes at school,” Richards recalled. “My mom didn’t want me to feel left out and I was shy, so she pushed me into this.”
After many years in Hollywood, Richards got married and became a mother in her late teens. Years later, she met her second husband, Mauricio Umansky, who founded the ritzy Los Angeles-based real estate firm, The Agency (and is now one of the favorite husbands on Bravo). Parents to four daughters, Richards and Umansky found great success in the real estate business, and pride themselves in being self-made. But still, even with financial success, Richards wanted to get back to her original goal.
Growing up, she wanted to be the next Betty White.
“The ‘Housewives’ is not something you can be passionate about,” she laughs. “I mean, you can make money, and you have very difficult times and anxiety-provoking moments and also moments of fun, but you can never say you’re passionate about being a housewife, right? But, I can say I’m passionate about acting and creating.”
She continues, “There’s the whole image of the Beverly Hills housewife. That’s not exactly easy to play a character, after they picture me like that with sequins and diamonds. It goes against everything in any successful actor ever.”
Since the early days of “The Real World,” the entertainment business has looked down at reality TV. Richards says she used to be very insecure because of that, but everything changed after she sold “American Woman” in 2016, a scripted series that she executive produced based on her childhood. The show starred Alicia Silverstone and aired in 2018. It lasted only one season on the Paramount Network, and she was devastated when it was cancelled (after, she says, being told it would be renewed). But, the series opened doors.
As her profile began to rise on Bravo, Richards gained confidence from “The Real Housewives.” In fact, sometimes it helped when she walked into a room. Hollywood executives would pick her brain on the latest drama from the reality show. Knowing she could make juice out of lemons, Richards quips, “I’d be like, ‘That’s not why I’m here. But I’ll take it!'”
With two movies and two series out this year, Richards is busier than ever. Just her “Housewives” schedule alone nearly has her working year-round, and with the next “Halloween,” she’ll be traveling back and forth from Atlanta to Los Angeles for both productions.
She tells Variety she is working on launching her own production company, and she is currently developing an unscripted series and an hourlong, scripted drama, though she isn’t expected to appear in the project. (During “American Woman,” she asked to have a cameo, but turned it down. “My face in there is a distraction,” she recalls.) Richards is interested in comedy and drama and both film and television, but she would love to lead a scripted series. Her ultimate goal is be to create a vehicle for herself to star in and produce.
Richards is steadfast in her commitment to succeed and unapologetic in her work ethic. “Anything I’ve ever wanted, I’ve gotten,” she says. “Whether that’s my marriage and the family that I’ve built, or work-wise, anything I’ve put my mind to, I’ve made happened. Sometimes it takes a really long time, but it happens.”
As for her future on Bravo, despite constant tabloid rumors, Richards isn’t ready to leave the “Housewives” just yet, and there is no timeline for her exit.
“There have been many times I thought this will be my last year,” Richards says of “RHOBH.” She thinks about it some more: “Universal, across the board, has been amazing to me. They have treated me really well and it’s not lost on me what they have brought to my life and then, I’ve taken that and created this whole other life and business from it.”
“There will be a time where I’ll say, ‘It’s all too much,’ and then I’ll pick a lane and maybe I’ll be ready to have it in my rearview mirror, but right now, I’m just trying to do it all,” she says, clearly thinking out loud, as if she considers this conundrum often.
She continues, “When the bad outweighs the good or when it’s no longer fun for me, then I will know it’s time. Have I felt those times more than ever? Yes,” she says, laughing. “As long as I can keep balancing it, I will,” Richards continues. “But of course, there will be a time when I hang up my diamond.”
As long as she survives “Halloween Kills.”