Since she joined The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills at the beginning of Season Five, actress Lisa Rinna has been the name on everyone’s lips. From her epic battles with Kim Richards (word is, we get another round this season) to calling out everyone from former Housewife Yolanda Foster to current Housewife Dorit Kemsley on their own versions of dishonesty, Rinna has no problem telling it like it is and being a lighting rod for controversy. All the while, we have gotten to see another side of Rinna, who has gone through raising teenagers (who are now becoming world renowned and in demand super models) and not just losing a parent, but seeing her irrepressible mother Lois, continue to thrive. I sat down to catch up with Rinna as Season 9 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills kicked off and we talked about everything from newest cast member Denise Richards. to what it’s like returning to the show after a season where many considered her to have taken a back seat. And yes-we talked at length about Lisa Vanderpump and as always, Rinna did not disappoint when it came to giving her opinion
MICHAEL COOK: You are back for another season on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and it looks like the Rinna that we know is back, after taking a year off from getting too overly involved in the drama it seemed. Is that a fair assessment of both last year and this year?
LISA RINNA: I definitely made a conscious effort to let the other girls do the work last year; I had done all of the heavy lifting for a few years, you know? I was vey clear with them and with everything about it it, it was not like I said nothing. I told them that I was taking a bit of a break because I deserve it, and If don’t, I’ll have to leave, you know what I mean? I just needed a breather. I did not plan on anything and I try to not ever plan on much of anything going into it. This season really just presented itself immediately. I had an opinion on it and I have an opinion on it right out of the gate, and that is what you are going to see.
The season has gotten a great deal of attention before it even aired, with many cast members offering vague clarification about possible storylines. That has definitely brought even more attention to the season than ever before, with almost everyone having an opinion before the first scene even aired.
Yes, but they don’t necessarily have the right opinion, and they don’t have enough information. There is a lot of speculation as well.
Another factor that is making us eagerly anticipate this season so much is the addition of a new Housewife, in the form of actress Denise Richards. Denise has been one of the names mentioned so frequently when people would speak about a wish list for new cast members, and now it has finally happened. What are your thoughts on your newest cast mate?
It is such a smart choice and such a smart move. She called me up and said “I think I would like to be on Housewives now”. I sent her message to the producers and they met with her and they fell in love with her and boom; she is a great addition.
You have had great seasons and some seasons where you have really been put through the mill by fellow cast mates. In you, she probably had an invaluable resource who was able to give her all the info she would need to be a successful Housewife is that fair to say?
Let me tell you, she is really lucky; I told her everything. I gave her the 411, like no one had ever given that to me. I gave her what I wished someone had been able to give me. I think it’s priceless advice (laughs)!
You have been very vocal when other cast mates have had a propensity to not show up or we’re not pulling their own weight. Accountability has always been something you feel strongly about, be it for yourself or for your cast mates words and actions. Is that something you feel passionate about the year as well?
Here’s the thing; I am who I am and am very vocal about how I feel. We do a job and I feel that if you are not going to show up for two and a half months and not film with us and you are not going to tell us why-and I am talking about Lisa Vanderpump by the way, I am not going to beat around the bush.
It certainly seems like Lisa Vanderpump not filming for a large portion of the season is a huge bone of contention.
Listen, all she had to do was to call one of us or text one of us, we have all been friends for a very long time. All she had to do was to say that she was in deep pain; we all acknowledge her grieving and we all have reached out to her and invited her to anything and everything. The fact that she did not show up for two and a half months, did not call or text one of us to say “guys, I need to take a medical leave of absence, I thought I could do this, I can’t do it, it’s too much”-anything. How about maybe just that? Any of us would have told her to do what she needed to do. The fact that she did not respect us enough to call or text one of us and let us know and to just run and hide and not show up for work for two and a half months, that is where I am the most disappointed.
I am actually disappointed on a couple of levels. Not only that we are fellow cast mates and I believe that we are part of an ensemble cast. I believe if I had done that, I would have been fired. I mean, if you don’t show up for your job for two and a half months, would you be fired? How does that make us feel as cast members? Does that make us think that we have a fair playing field here and we are all the same? Or does it make you think that someone gets better treatment than other people? Now, we know that she is grieving and we know that she lost her brother and we are all so empathetic about that. Those are two separate things though. The fact that she showed up and filmed all of the episodes of Vanderpump Rules before she even came to film our show speaks volumes. That has to come out; no one talks about it. Everyone thinks we ganged up on her, we’re so mean. No we’re not; show up for work. This is a television show. If you can’t show up and do the television show, but yet Bravo is going to protect you because you have another show on their network, that’s bullshit. I have my feelings and when I sent that tweet it was a joke in a sense; I had screamed at all of the Housewives to get up on the table and dance for Andy (Cohen) at his baby shower, and I said “you better show up”. I was joking in a sense, but there is always some truth to my jokes.
Andy Cohen recently said publicly that he regretted not giving Lisa Vanderpump a year off when it had come up. Do you feel that would have made a different kind of impact had she taken a year off?
I don’t know, maybe she should just communicate. Why even let the audience wonder what is going on? Why don’t you talk to them, tell them, they’re your fans aren’t they? Why lead them on and say “they’re ganging up on me, they’re mean to me”.That’s bullshit’ we have invited her to absolutely every event and she did not reply to any of us, or she said “sorry I can’t come”. So there you go.
We all love when you guest host LIVE With Kelly and Ryan and your SOAPNet show Soap Talk with Ty Treadway was amazing. Is having a talk show something that you could really see yourself doing now?
I would love to have a talk show. Let’s put that out in the universe. I have done it, but I should still do it and make a ton of money for it now, right? (laughs).
You have been a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and your most recent appearance on Watch What Happens Live featured New York City drag performer Jackie Cox recreating you at Andy Cohen’s Housewife filled baby shower, which you clearly loved seeing. How do you explain the love that the LGBT community has for you?
Well because I love them.I have always been so loving towards them and my best friends are gay or trans. That community has been so good and so supportive of me throughout my career and I just love them. I guess it is just a mutual love affair, don’t you think?
Your husband Harry Hamlin, your daughters Delilah and Amelia and your mother Lois are so much of the reason why you are a relatable Housewife for so many; tell me we get to check in with them this season?
You will get to see alf of them! The girls do a sit down interview and so does Lois this season, which is fabulous. You know, my daughters are doing so well and I am so proud of them. They are using their platform in a way that really matters and they are opening up about what they go through and what they struggle with. I am so forever proud of these girls.
What does it take to keep Lisa Rinna inspired?
It takes me staying open and being curious. Never stopping reading, writing, dancing , singing, everything. It takes me being a kid, you know? That’s how I stay inspired.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs on Wednesday night on Bravo (check local listings)
(Top three photos: Courtesy of NBC Universal; Bottom two pics courtesy of Bravo)