No Laughing Matter

Is Ed O’Neill married . . . with an image problem?

Known for his role as beleaguered hubby/father Al Bundy on Fox Broadcasting’s “Married . . . With Children,” O’Neill--a dramatic actor prior to the series--recently got laughed right out of Paramount’s Vietnam action-adventure, “Flight of the Intruder.”

Because test screening audiences laughed when a serious O’Neill appeared as the prosecutor in a military trial, O’Neill’s scene has been snipped. The role has been recast with actor Fred Dalton Thompson, according to a source close to the production.

“I don’t feel good about what happened,” says O’Neill. “As an actor, it’s kind of frightening. It shows what TV can do to you. At the same time, I can’t complain about what the series has given me. It’s a double-edged sword.


“What I don’t want is for these producers in town to think they can’t use me in serious films--especially since all I did before this (“Married”) was serious.”

A longtime friend of director John Milius, O’Neill did two days work on the film--which was to be unbilled.

“My scene comes an hour or so into the picture. There’s no introduction to my character--I come from out of nowhere. Suddenly there I am, in a uniform, walking around this table at a court martial. I think that, to audiences who aren’t expecting me, it’s as if Al Bundy’s suddenly appeared. It’s like Al Bundy Joins the Army.”

If anyone wants to see O’Neill, the dramatic actor, they can watch the ABC-TV movie “The Whereabouts of Jenny,” to air this fall. O’Neill portrays a father separated from his daughter by a witness relocation program.


“The whole film is serious,” promises O’Neill. “There’s nothing to laugh at.”