Cheryl Ladd recently revealed why she originally said ''no thank you'' to Charlie's Angels
How she created her character to avoid Farrah Fawcett's shadow.
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On Charlie's Angels, replacing Farrah Fawcett was no small feat. "Nobody planned to have Farrah explode. You never can. Those things just happen," executive producer Leonard Goldberg said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. Charlie's Angels had nothing to do with Fawcett's now-iconic poster, and Goldberg said they never saw it coming. Suddenly, Fawcett wanted a movie career and more control over how she spent her time, so she could have more time to spend with her husband at the time, actor Lee Majors.
And just as suddenly, Charlie's Angels needed a new star, and no deal could be brokered to keep Farrah on the show. (She told Merv Griffin in 1976 that the shooting schedule was exhausting for everybody involved.) Every fan of the show knows what happens next: Cheryl Ladd came on the cast, and Charlie's Angels kept fighting the good fight.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Ladd revealed how "intimidating" it was to step onto the show with Fawcett still casting such a long shadow. It was so intimidating, at first the actress said her answer was definitely no. Ladd said, "When Aaron [Spelling] first asked me to do it, I said no thank you. I was quite intimidated by it all and I really didn’t understand what they were going to do to try to replace Farrah. He looked at a lot of other girls, but he had wanted me from the beginning. So he asked me to come in and talk to him." This is how she said that meeting went down:
Aaron Spelling: “Why don’t you want to do this?”
Cheryl Ladd: “I don’t know, what would I play? Because nobody could go in there and try to replace Farrah. That is not going to work."
Spelling: "What do you mean?"
Ladd: "I don't know, maybe if the character could be funny."
At that point, the two were spitballing, but Ladd's note ended up helping Spelling develop the character right there on the spot. Ladd remembered that Spelling said, "She could be funny. She could be like the rookie who makes a lot of mistakes but tries really hard. … And people do cheer for the underdog. … What if she’s Jill’s little sister? That way the whole country can still love Jill. And they’ll love you because you’re her little sister."
And that's just who Ladd became, Jill Munroe's little sister Kris. Ladd told Fox about this pivotal moment that changed her mind and led her to join Charlie's Angels: "I thought that’s it. I know who to play now."