Every episode of Last Man Standing is special for the cast, but this week's episode was even more special for Amanda Fuller. "Garage Band" marked her directing debut on the series, and it heavily featured one of her childhood idols, Jay Leno. The experience was "really fun and magical," especially since The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno was her father's show.
In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Fuller recalled how she always dreamed about appearing on The Tonight Show as a child actor, since her father loved the show. When that did not happen, Fuller thought she might never feel accomplished in her career. However, thanks to the stars aligning, she is not only working with Tim Allen, but with Leno. It was an even more surprising twist that she would end up directing Leno in her first episode as director.
"Just talking about full circle and how things align is just really fun and magical sometimes," Fuller said. "I was like, 'Well, I think I made my dad even prouder because I wasn't just a guest on his show, I was actually directing him.' ... It was a feat. He's Jay Leno. He's perfect and hysterical and charming and kind and generous and wonderful. He is everything you want him to be and we know him."
Leno has been a part of the Last Man Standing family since 2015, and plays Joe, a mechanic who works with Mike (Tim Allen) at Outdoor Man. Joe's role has been expanded in this season, as he works with Mike, Ed (Hector Elizondo) and Chuck (Jonathan Adams) on their new car restoration business. Although he is now part of the show's family, there is still something intimidating about giving Leno a note about a joke, Fuller said.
"He's been on our show for a while now," Fuller explained. "We consider him one of our family, and so it wasn't like it was his first episode and it was this incredibly daunting thing, but there were times where I found myself having to give him a note on a joke or a line or blocking or whatever, and it's intimidating."
Of course, Leno is not the only beloved standup comedian on set. Allen is there too, and having to direct scenes with him, Leno, Adams and Elizondo together put Fuller in an interesting position as a "rising female in the boys' club." "Garage Band" also centered on their bond, which made it "really fun" to direct.
"They're such a respectful, beautiful group of men that I felt really lucky to be the one doing [the directing] because they love me and I love them," Fuller said. "There was no pushback, there was no suspicion or anything. They were just happy to be along with the ride with me and embrace it and we just had lots of fun. That was really an interesting first bat for sure."
Fuller has directed on her own for pleasure and with theater groups in the past, but it was not until recently she decided to pursue directing a television episode after seeing so many actresses direct. The opportunity to get behind the camera finally arose this season. Fuller said she was not used to seeing so many women in director roles while growing up, but as she saw the club expanding, she "realized that I wanted to be a part of that group."0comments
"Garage Band" also featured a second story with Ryan (Jordan Masterson) getting worried about the results of a personality test Kyle (Christoph Sanders) had everyone take. The story ended with a touching scene of the cast playing charades together. It was a scene that really shows how much of a family the cast has become over the past eight seasons, even when the cameras are not rolling.
"It feels like that every week," Fuller told PopCulture.com. "It's felt that comfortable for a long time, every day. Even when we have a hiatus, we come back, it feels like no time has passed. It's so strange how it just picks up right where it left off. ...When there's scenes with all of us together and we get to work our whole week together and not be in different storylines and just be passing each other's paths, but actually physically there and with something that's so light and fun, yeah, that's the best. They're the best of times, for sure."