‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actor Alison Arngrim Explains Why Playing Nellie Oleson ‘Thrilled’ Her

Alison Arngrim is most well-known for her iconic character in Little House on the Prairie. She originally auditioned to be one of the Ingall sisters. However, in the end, she got the part of Nellie Oleson.

Many fans hated the way Nellie treated the primary protagonist for years. Despite the hate, Arrnigram does not regret joining the cast. In fact, she was excited to be a more villainous character.

Alison Arngrim was Nellie on ‘Little House on the Prairie’

In Little House on the Prairie, Alison Arngrim was a part of the main cast as Nellie Oleson. Her character is the daughter of a wealthy store owner, and she acts as an antagonist to Laura. Nellie tries to sabotage Laura multiple times, but the former eventually matures as she grows up.

Even though Laura and Nellie became friends, fans still remember the latter’s early schemes. Many people quickly disliked the character for her spoiled behavior, thanks to Arngrim’s acting skills. Nevertheless, Nellie was no doubt fun to watch as her relationships with others developed.

Arngrim was only prominent in the hit show for seven seasons before leaving. The reason she disappeared after Season 7 was a contract dispute. The network would not grant the actor more screen time and a higher salary. As a result, she left the main cast to pursue other opportunities.

Still, Arngrim did not finish being Nellie completely. In Season 9, she appeared as a guest star when Nellie returned from New York to visit her family. However, it was only for an episode.

Arngrim was happy to learn she would be Nellie

Several actors give convincing performances as intentionally-hated characters, but some fans cannot separate the person from their role. Even though Alison Arngrim was nothing like Nellie, people still viewed the two as the same. Still, the actor did not take it to heart and loved playing someone like Nellie.

“I loved villains. Growing up, I liked horror movies. I liked the villains in stories,” Arngrim explained in an interview with WISH-TV on YouTube. “I didn’t even know there was a Nellie Oleson. I hadn’t read the books, but when I realized I’m the villain, I was thrilled. So, I knew I was supposed to be terrible.”

Occasionally, people would go up to Arngrim and express how “awful” she was. However, the former star took it with grace and gave her thanks. She likely saw the disdain as proof of her abilities.

Even though a few fans hated her, Arngrim does not regret getting cast as Nellie. In fact, she is glad she did not play Laura instead. She would have gotten tired of acting kind constantly and had the chance to make a bratty character iconic.

What Alison Arngrim has been up to since the show

Alison Arngrim at the Young Show 'Im Labyrinth der Buecher' in Berlin, Germany
Alison Arngrim at the Young Show | Tristar Media/Getty Images

Alison Arngrim is still acting decades after Little House on the Prairie ended. Her IMDb page shows that she had a role in the 2017 TV movie Life Interrupted. The following year, she was a life coach in Livin’ On a Prairie. However, most of her TV appearances have been as herself in various shows.

Arngrim’s latest acting role was the 2021 film Even in Dreams, which is available only on DVD. The story focuses on a woman turning to songwriting after the loss of her sister. According to IMDb, Arngrim portrayed Debra in the movie.

On top of being an actor, Arngrim also is a writer. According to WABE, she published a memoir about her time on Little House on the Prairie. The title is Confessions of a Prairie B****: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated.

Arngrim later turned her book into a one-woman show called Confessions of a Prairie B****. She has performed it live in Out Front Theatre in Atlanta.

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