Last Man Standing star Molly McCook recalled the first time she met former Mandy Baxter actress Molly Ephraim following the recasting controversy that has kept fans talking since the revived sitcom's premiere.
McCook made her debut on the ABC-turned-Fox sitcom at the end of September, with many fans commenting on how different the two actresses were who had been chosen to play the middle child of Mike (Tim Allen) and Vanessa Baxter (Nancy Travis).
For McCook, who has kept herself actively engaging with fans of the series on social media when episodes air, making the character her own has been a top priority since taking over the role of Mandy for season 7.
"At first, I took it personally," McCook told CountryLiving.com of the backlash to the recasting. "But the hardcore fans of the show have been extremely supportive."
The beloved series made headlines when it announced that Ephraim would not be returning for season seven, after she had gotten busy with other projects after it was first canceled by ABC.
As far as how awkward it was for McCook to meet Ephraim in real life, McCook said it was a pleasant meeting.
McCook told the outlet that the two actresses had a "wonderful conversation." She revealed that they did not discuss the show in detail, but says that Ephraim asked how her experience with the cast had been so far.
"I said they were treating me well!" McCook recalled "And that was that..."
She revealed that Last Man Standing star Tim Allen even hugged her when they first met, and that being so warmly welcomed by her castmates has helped look past the criticism.
"In this world, even outside of the industry, there'll always be people trying to bring you down," she told the outlet. "Everybody has been telling me to keep my head up."
McCook made her debut as Mandy in the season 7 premiere, when the show poked fun at the recasting by having the character's husband Kyle (Christoph Sanders) take some time to notice what was different about his wife.
"I get it! You're tall and blonde!" Kyle says to his wife, who nods and hugs him as he finally noticed the difference.
A day before the season premiere, McCook responded to a social media hashtag that criticized the casting.
"I SEE your new [Not My Mandy] 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.
What do you think of the newer, blonder Mandy Baxter? Last Man Standing airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.