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Nicole Richie Reflects on 20 Years Since ‘The Simple Life’ Debut, Talks ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead’ Remake and Horror-Comedy Writing

has been a devoted fan of the 1991 cult classic “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” for as long as she can recall.

“I’ve been reciting lines from this movie my entire life,” she shares.

And now, things have come full circle as the former reality TV star from “Simple Life” takes on the role of fashion company head Rose in director Wade Allain-Marcus’ remake of “Don’t Tell Mom.”

The new adaptation features Simone Joy Jones as Tanya, a 17-year-old whose summer plans are disrupted when her mother (portrayed by “Ms. Pat” star Patricia Williams) checks into a health retreat. Chaos ensues when the babysitter, played by Oscar nominee June Squibb, hired to look after Tanya and her siblings, unexpectedly passes away.

“When I learned about the remake, I was intrigued about the direction it would take,” she reflects. “So, I had a discussion with Wade over Zoom, and he explained that it’s a reinterpretation of the original movie. He shared color palettes, mood boards, and a lot of music to convey his vision. After our initial Zoom meeting, I was eager to portray Rose.”

How anxious were you about the remake? Some remakes succeed while others fall flat.

It’s true that remakes can be hit or miss, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I find it incredibly amusing. It has a very uplifting vibe, reminiscent of early ‘90s family adventure comedies.

However, it does push boundaries. There’s a significant amount of cannabis use and more profanity than expected.

Given its R rating, the level of edginess was somewhat unexpected. It has actually become a running joke in our group chat.

You’re not frequently seen on screen.

While I come across various scripts, I prefer to choose roles where I can deliver a strong performance and wholeheartedly invest my energy. This movie was a perfect fit for me in that regard. Playing Rose was something I never envisioned, but in retrospect, I feel a spiritual connection to the character. It was meant for me since day one, back in 1991.

Can you recall your most challenging audition?

I can’t pinpoint a specific terrible audition experience. Auditions are always quite amusing. During the audition for “Great News,” I was the last one to audition that day. Seeing my number as 32 on the list made me doubt my chances. Surprisingly, I received a callback after I had already left for a trip with my husband [Joel Madden]. I had to rush back for the callback as soon as I landed.

Is there a dream role you aspire to play?

I’m currently in the process of writing and starring in a comedy horror film. It’s somewhat inspired by Kathleen Turner’s style in “Serial Mom.”

How often are you approached about a “Simple Life” reunion or revival?

There have been numerous discussions about it, but Paris [Hilton] and I believe in doing things with a purpose rather than just for the sake of it. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the show, so we’re exploring different ways to commemorate this iconic series.

Paris’ memoir is being adapted into a TV series.

Should I audition for it?

That leads to my next question: who would you choose to portray you?

Perhaps Jack Black? [ Laughs]

Your children (daughter Harlow Madden, 16, and son Sparrow Madden, 14) made their red carpet debut at the recent “Don’t Tell Mom” premiere, sparking significant media attention. Was this a deliberate decision, or did it happen spontaneously?

Honestly, they were accompanying me to the event. It wasn’t a premeditated decision. We attended as a family, and given their age and understanding, it felt natural.

Lionel Richie, Lisa Parigi, Harlow Madden, Sparrow Madden, Nicole Richie, Brenda Harvey-Richie, and Joel Madden at the premiere of “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” at The Grove on April 2, 2024, in Los Angeles, California.

River Callaway for Variety

How often do they revisit old footage of you or watch episodes of “Simple Life”?

“The Simple Life” seems to be gaining popularity on TikTok, and they mention watching clips there. Their friends also engage with the content. Eye rolls are a common sight in my house—it aligns with their perception of me.

Are they interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry?

I’m uncertain. I highly doubt my son’s interest, but my daughter might consider it, although she’s not actively pursuing it. She’s fully immersed in the life of a typical 16-year-old.