"It was something that I was super intimidated by at first, but very excited," McCook told Cheddar last week. "But I kind of kept my expectations low, because in this industry, you never know."
After finally meeting star Tim Allen though, she relaxed and realized he lived up to the "ultimate TV dad" title.
"He's so wonderful, honestly, and he's exactly what you expect in the best way," McCook said of the former Home Improvement star. "Just watching him work has become such a learning experience for me."
McCook joined the cast as Mandy, the middle Baxter daughter, after Molly Ephraim could not reprise her role. Ephraim moved on to other projects after ABC cancelled Last Man Standing in May 2017, and the character was recast. Aside from some jokes about the physical difference between McCook and Ephraim during the first episode of the season, the character was written the same.
While Ephraim was unavailable, almost everyone else returned to the show, including Nancy Travis as Mike's wife Vanessa and Amanda Fuller as Kristen, the eldest Baxter daughter. Kaitlyn Dever has appeared in a handful of episodes as Eve, the youngest.
"It was definitely intimidating because everybody, the crew, everybody was the same, so everybody knew each other so well," McCook said of joining a cast and crew that already had chemistry from six years on ABC. "But they were so welcoming and so excited to just be back that they welcomed me with open arms and I was very lucky."
McCook admitted it was difficult to gain the trust of fans at first, but she learned to shake off the critiques.
"It was kind of a back and forth thing that I went through, because obviously it was such a dream to be cast in this show, but at the same time I know that the fans are madly in love with the character," McCook, who also appeared in Netflix's The Ranch, explained.
"They were difficult shoes to fill, but we're trying to explain that that's not really what we're doing," she continued. "It's a change, it's something different."
Aside from Last Man Standing, McCook is also appearing in a new Freeform series, Good Trouble, a spin-off of The Fosters. The new show debuted on Tuesday.
"Luckily on LMS, we rehearse all week so I'm working with the scenes repeatedly and some of that dialogue becomes familiar to me by the time we film it," she told BELLO of the differences between the two shows. "With Good Trouble, it was a lot of legal jargon which was a huge challenge. Lots of Googling and figuring out WHAT I'm saying before learning how to REMEMBER it! But it's a fun challenge."
New episodes of Last Man Standing air on FOX at 8 p.m. ET on Fridays.
Photo credit: Fox