“Married… with Children” Star Says There’s “No Love Lost” With Ed O’Neill
On Married… with Children, the characters Marcy D’Arcy and Al Bundy didn’t get along—and in real life, neither did the actors who played them. While on the show, run-ins between neighbors Al and Marcy were limited to snipes between them, but for stars Ed O’Neill and Amanda Bearse, the tension was more serious and included on-set fights and wedding invite snubs.
Both Bearse and O’Neill have talked about their not-so-friendly relationship and their differences, with Bearse once saying that there was “no love lost” between them. Read on to see why the ’90s sitcom co-stars have never gotten along.
O’Neill said he got along with Bearse at first.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television in 2013, O’Neill talked about his relationship with Bearse and said that they got along at first.
“We all get along great,” O’Neill said of the Married… with Children cast. “The only one I don’t get along with—and I don’t think I’m the only one—is Amanda. I’m not sure what happened there, because it was wonderful for three years. She was great. I don’t know whose fault it was. We just sort of grew a bit apart … Maybe I reminded her of someone she didn’t like, an uncle or something.”
He added that he thought Bearse, who is a lesbian, “changed” when she became “more masculine.”
“I have to say, that when she started out she was gay—she was gay a long time—she was more or less the female in the couple,” O’Neill said. “She was very, very feminine and cute … The change took place where she was the more masculine of the two … As she became more masculine, she became a little more snarky. She could grow a tooth, as we used to say.”
Bearse didn’t invite him to her wedding.
In the interview, O’Neill shared that Bearse did not invite him or David Faustino, who played Bud, to her wedding, because she believed they would laugh at the sight of two women wearing tuxedos in a church.
O’Neill confronted her about not being invited. “I said, ‘Amanda, what is funny about two women in tuxedos walking down the church aisle?’ I started laughing, and she said, ‘See!’ I said, ‘Well, you know why, because it is [expletive] funny, and I’m not going to be the only one that doesn’t think so.’ But it was funny. She had a little white tux—to me, I thought it was funny. So, in other words, she may not have been wrong in excluding me.”
He also told a story about a fight.
O’Neill said that he and Bearse once got into a fight over “something stupid” in the makeup room on set. “And she said something about ‘You’re a bully’ or something and I said, ‘Well, you’re miserable.’ It was just bad—in front of everybody. And then I said, ‘You know, you’re not very bright, that’s your problem.’ She was bright… but in a way she wasn’t!”
O’Neill then explained to Bearse that he was in control on the show, because it could go on without her, but not without him. “I have a button I can push, that button says, ‘get rid of Amanda Bearse.’ You don’t have a button that says ‘get rid of Ed O’Neill.’ Your button doesn’t work,” he recalled telling her. “Now, this was a mean thing to say. I never was going to push that button, but it was true!”
Bearse shared her side of the story.
During a fan convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2018, Bearse was asked about her relationship with O’Neill. She began, “I follow the Thumper rule: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
She continued, “I will share, he was not happy towards the end of the series, so that affected everything. And that’s, really, why the show didn’t go off the air with a big finale. The company wasn’t really quite sure if we were going to come back for a Season 12.”
Bearse, who is also a director, said that she was directing many of the episodes toward the end of the show’s run—she directed 31 in total—which “made my job a little different” and made her speak out more. She added, “I had a little more to say about things. And so that when they weren’t going well, I would say, ‘That’s not OK.’ So, no love lost there. Yeah. Great actor, great actor.”
She mentioned the tension in another interview, too.
In a 2020 interview with The Fayetteville Observer, Bearse talked about “discord” on set, but did not mention O’Neill by name.
“Often times well and toward the end it wasn’t as pleasant,” she said of how she got along on set. “You spend that much time with anyone, you’re going to have good days and bad days. And that’s kind of why the show ended up kind of petering away, just because there was some discord.”
Bearse added that she was in touch with co-star Christina Applegate, who played Kelly. “I’m one of her hugest fans,” Bearse said. She continued, “I’m still very good friends with David Garrison, the actor who played my first husband. And then I’ve also seen Ted McGinley [who played her second husband] in recent years, and that’s just been a delightful experience.”
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