Last Man Standing star Amanda Fuller knew Molly McCook before she joined the Tim Allen-starring sitcom and praised her for doing such a "great job" at taking over a role and making it her own. McCook was cast as Mike Baxter's middle daughter Mandy when the show returned for Season 7, taking over for actress Molly Ephraim. It was a difficult task, and Fuller told PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview that she made sure McCook fit in from day one.
Fuller has some familiarity with the situation McCook found herself in, since she was also not the original actress to play her part. In season 1, Mike's oldest daughter Kristin was played by Alexandra Krosney, with Fuller taking over the part for season 2. The two cases were different though, since Kristin's character was still being developed when Fuller came in. McCook took over for Ephraim after fans were used to seeing Ephraim's Mandy for six seasons. Fuller admitted McCook had a "much harder, more daunting task" than she faced, but praised McCook's handling of the situation.
"The role of Mandy had already been truly established and she needed to come on and do something entirely different because there's no way that an actor can come in and do a Molly Ephraim impression of Mandy. That would've been a catastrophe," Fuller said. She gave McCook her respect, adding, "she's done such a great job" since joining the show.
Fuller said she knew McCook before she was cast on Last Man Standing. She went to high school with her older sister, so she already saw McCook as "little sister." She also suspected McCook would face some unfair cyberbullying and backlash, so she told McCook she had to be ready. The whole cast was behind McCook every step of the way. "We've been by her side the whole way and she knows that she's just loved and wanted and brings so much to our show and we just love having her," Fuller said.
When cameras started rolling for Season 7 after Fox saved the show from cancellation, the Baxter family got back together as if nothing happened, Fuller recalled. "It was like no time had passed," Fuller said. "It's like the first day of school...[On] the first day, we were like, 'Oh, my God, this is going to be so weird and now here we are again.'"0comments
Fuller agreed it was like an extended summer break. An hour into filming, it was like they had "never left." "It took an hour for us to get the jitters away and be like, 'Oh, yeah, here we are again. Were we anywhere else? Did we do anything else? Did we go away?'" she said. "I think we're really lucky in that respect." She went on to call stories that bring all the characters together "the best of times."
When Last Man Standing was off the air, Fuller lived in New York to work on Orange is the New Black, where she played Madison "Badison" Murphy. Fuller said she would love to play the part again if she has a chance, but she had not heard "anything specific" about the rumored sequel series. "Hands down, I would be thrilled to go back and work with any part of that team and put my Madison skin back on at any time," she said. "That would be fun, for sure."