'Last Man Standing' Star Molly McCook Details How Krista Marie Yu Brings 'New Element' to Series (Exclusive)

This season of Last Man Standing has given new cast member Krista Marie Yu plenty of moments to shine. In last week's episode, she even got to sing the National Anthem backward. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Molly McCook reflected on how Yu brings a "new element" to the show.

Yu, who previously starred on ABC's Dr. Ken, was cast to play foreign exchange student Jen for Season 7. Now that all of Mike (Tim Allen) and Vanessa (Nancy Travis) Baxter's daughters have moved out, Jen gets more of a say in the drama the Baxters find themselves in every week. Yu brings a different kind of humor to the show, McCook, who stars as Mandy, explained.

"I think that Krista has brought an entire new element to the show," McCook said. "I think that she's... first of all, so unbelievably funny. We find ourselves cracking up at every single thing that she does."

last man standing krista marie yu fox
(Photo: Jack Zeman / FOX)

"All of [the Baxter daughters] have moved out of the house, and Mike and Vanessa have this kind of empty nest syndrome," McCook continued. "They're missing what it feels like to have a kid right there in their home under their roof. And so the character of Jen has kind of brought that energy back and given them that purpose."

Yu has "really brought in this kid-like nature that has kind of brought us back together under one roof again for different things, whether that be her prom or anything like that," McCook said.

Although Jen is a new character, her introduction does help Last Man Standing retain part of the show's original foundation. When the series began back on ABC in 2011, the show was just about a conservative dad living with a liberal-minded wife and their three daughters. Now that the daughters are all on their own, Jen's introduction gives Mike and Vanessa someone to play off of at home.

"I think that [Jen has] really kept the show... even though the show is evolving and growing and all of us are growing up... where it's been in terms of there always being some sort of kid kind of learning the ropes and learning what it's like to be under the roof of Mike and Vanessa," McCook said.

Despite all the changes on Last Man Standing over the years, Tim Allen is still at the heart of it all. McCook agreed that he is like a father figure to everyone.

"He is the patriarch of our whole environment," McCook said. "When you think about Tim Allen and as the sitcom father and how long he's been doing this, since the beginning of Home Improvement, it really has, I think, everything to do with why this show works so well. It all just ties together so well. And I think that that's because he's really leading all of us."

The show has also retained Mike's Outdoor Man vlogs, where Mike usually sums up the moral of the episode at the very end. It's one of the parts McCook loves about the show.

"That's actually one of my favorite things about the show, that it kind of wraps it all up in the end," she said. "It's sort of his little narration. He's like the storyteller and he's reading the storybook and kind of closing that story and then the next thing that happens in the next episode. I love that about the show."

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Last Man Standing airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

Photo credit: Jack Zeman / FOX