'Last Man Standing' Star Molly McCook Responds to Fan Criticism Over Recasting

Molly McCook, the new actress playing Mandy Baxter on Fox's Last Man Standing, hit back at fans criticizing her before her first episode airs.

"I SEE your new #NotMyMandy hashtag. You're right... I'm not THAT Mandy. I'm THIS Mandy. I get it. I promise to love and respect your favorite show and YOU," McCook wrote. She added a heart emoji.

McCook also wrote a heartwarming message to fans on Twitter on Sept. 17, asking fans to have an open mind about her.

"I know a lot of you have been commenting that you hate that there's a new Mandy. And I totally don't blame you. The industry is a funny place," McCook wrote. "But I'm doing my BEST and making her my own. I know it's not ideal that she ever had to change. But try to keep an open mind."

McCook was cast as Mike Baxter's middle daughter after the original actress, Molly Ephraim, could not return. Ephraim took on other projects after ABC cancelled Last Man Standing in early 2017.

"It's unfortunate. We love her deeply. She's a big part of who we were," executive producer Matt Berry said in August before McCook was cast. "But [it's] exciting for us to look around and see who we can get to play that character. We want someone to come in and not play Molly Ephraim. We want somebody to come in and play Mandy. We've seen a lot of great actresses."

McCook was cast in August, and her on-screen dad, Tim Allen, approved of the casting.

"It's a daunting task to replace characters that we love and adore. I come from the acting side of it: I've been replaced. It's very difficult for the actor part of me," Allen told Parade Magazine earlier this month. "Mandy [Ephraim] is a tough one to doppelgänger, so where we headed is not to doppelgänger. The new Mandy will not look like her because that's trying too hard."

Boyd, Mike's grandson, was also recast. Allen's said Flynn Morrison's parents want to see him go to a normal school, so Jett Jergensmeyer was brought in.

The new-look Mandy will be the butt of a joke in an early episode of the new season. Executive producer Kevin Abbott told TVLine that Many tells her husband Kyle (Christoph Sanders) that something is different about her, but he cannot figure it out.

"Mandy's mad at Kyle because she's changed something about her looks and he can't tell what it is," Abbott said. "He thinks she looks exactly the same, and so does Mike."

Aside from the two recastings, Allen and the other Last Man Standing actors are returning. Nancy Travis is back as Mike's wife Vanessa, Amanda Fuller will play Kristin again and Kaitlyn Dever will be recurring as Eve. Hector Elizondo, Sanders, Jonathan Adams and Jordan Masterson are also returning.

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

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