It's taken a while, but All in the Family
star Carroll O'Connor
is finally ready to admit he went a little overboard in his off-camera fights with series creator Norman Lear
"I had the power to really drive everybody crazy, including Norman, who had to [back down] a lot," recalls O'Connor on this Sunday's E! True Hollywood Story (9 pm/ET). "I got very nasty with him. I fault myself, I didn't have to get that nasty."
O'Connor's efforts to rewrite scripts and his demands for increased pay created plenty of tension behind the scenes of the hit '70s sitcom, which today continues to air in reruns on Nick at Nite. "I made him dislike me and then, of course, I turned around and disliked him," says O'Connor, who eventually went on to star in TV's popular In the Heat of the Night.
Lear, who tried to get the difficult O'Connor bumped from the series, tells E! he found the actor to be "fearful and misguided" during much of the production of the ground-breaking sitcom.
But the constant bickering between O'Connor and Lear might have actually benefited the show, according to actor-turned-director Rob Reiner, who played son-in-law Mike "Meathead" Stivic on the series. "Those fights and those arguments, as uncomfortable as they were at times," he admits, "actually wound up making a better product."