Arnold, who was married to Barr from 1990 to 1994, talked on The Howard Stern Show about how it was Metcalf who caught his eye first.
“The night we shot the pilot … Roseanne was in the front seat getting romantic with John Goodman. I was in the backseat. Roseanne looks back and I’m holding hands with Laurie Metcalf, and then we’re having a great time,” Arnold, who was a writer on Roseanne, recalled of the night back in 1988. “We went to the Improv, we were just hammered. The next morning [Roseanne] calls me into her office and she goes, ‘Tom, I was a writer, too. Writers cannot date the actors. That’s the rule of Hollywood.'”
Arnold continued, “I was like, ‘Oh, OK … I apologize. That’s the rule of Hollywood, I would not violate it.’ And then I couldn’t date Laurie Metcalf. And little did I know Roseanne would eventually make me marry her. … I could never tell how women like me, but apparently if they’re really, really mean to me … I appreciated that.”
The comedian said nothing more came of his night with Barr’s onscreen sister.
“Well, no, we had a night,” Arnold told Stern. “It’s like, I’m sure we were out partying, we did a pilot for a TV show, this is exciting … there was something that night, 100 percent … Of course, I don’t know what.”
Ironically, Arnold broke Barr’s rule — with Barr. After being “just friends” for six years (while the actress was married to a different Roseanne writer, Bill Pentland) the pair took their relationship to the next level in 1989.
“I had this prevision that something was going to happen between us, but we’d always back off. We really did try so hard not to be together those six years,” Barr told to People. She and Pentland separated. “Tom was on the road, I was doing She Devil, and Tom and I talked for like nine hours every day and started admitting things. Like I’d go, ‘How come you been engaged three times since I’ve known you and it’s never worked out?’ And he’d go, ‘I’ve been waiting for you since I was 24.'”
They wed in 1990, days after Barr’s divorce was final, but their relationship went up in flames four years later. Arnold battled substance-abuse issues, and Barr alleged he beat and abused her, for which she received a restraining order. He also claimed she was abusive. To say the pair had a trainwreck of a marriage is an understatement.
Still, Arnold gave the Roseanne reboot a glowing review … with a side dish of shade.
“Roseanne has done everything from pulling my hair transplants immediately after surgery to saying I had a 3-inch penis on SNL, so I figure if I can give the show another shot, maybe other people could too,” he wrote last month. “Also, there’s Laurie effing Metcalf. I can face all kinds of past pain and humiliation with a smile on my face because I know Laurie Metcalf walks this earth.”
Maybe he picked the wrong sliding door 30 years ago.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: