Last Man Standing’s Amanda Fuller on returning and recasting

Amanda Fuller stars as Kristin Baxter in Fox's Last Man Standing. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Portrait PR.
Amanda Fuller stars as Kristin Baxter in Fox's Last Man Standing. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Portrait PR. /

Last Man Standing star Amanda Fuller speaks about season 7, and reveals what an actor goes through when they step into someone else’s role.

Amanda Fuller has shined in Last Man Standing season 7, stealing scenes in the FOX sitcom as Kristin Baxter. She told Hidden Remote about the adventure of the once-cancelled comedy being resurrected, and how Kristin has grown over the years.

But she also gave her insight on something the fans have debated often this season: recasting a member of the Baxter family. Amanda went through that journey when she became Kristin in the second season, and she spoke about what it’s like for an actor to go through the process and face the fan reaction.

Learn more about Amanda Fuller and Last Man Standing in our interview below, then catch a new Last Man Standing episode tonight on FOX!

Hidden Remote: When the show came back for season 7, did you have to re-familiarize yourself with Kristin or was it an easy return?

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Amanda Fuller: Luckily Kristin is kind of a version of myself. We definitely have differences, but for the most part she’s an extension of me. Even if it were some crazy character or a very different character for me, it would still be fun to dive back into it. But it’s like picking up an old friend.

I think the challenge more was the life change, adjusting back to the life of being on a sitcom. I had moved to New York at that point and started working on Orange Is The New Black and stuff like that, so having to readjust and go back to that version of my life for who knows how long was the adjustment.

But once we were on set and saw each other again, it was literally like no time had passed. It’s effortless there; we’re a family and it was great.

Fans have been vocal about Molly McCook taking over the role of Kristin’s sister Mandy. You joined as Kristin in season 2; can you share your experience with recasting and trying to settle into the show?

It’s never easy, for a lot of reasons. First of all as an actor, we’re all in this together. We’re one big giant team, is how I look at it…So taking over someone else’s role is never easy, because you don’t want to be that person. You want everybody to have that opportunity. So in the very beginning it’s hard to even wrap your head around having to do that to somebody else, even though you’re not in control of it and it’s not your doing. I’m a very empathetic person, so that’s a hard thing to get into.

Also, everyone has their set mind of what that character is. [They’ve] already met them and got used to them. You have to earn the audience’s love and respect, and that can be a process sometimes. It’s a hard thing to do, but for the sake of the show and the love of the work, it’s totally worth it.

You have to take it with a grain of salt and do your best, and hope they aren’t too mean to you, which they can be. We live in a time of social media where everybody has a voice and they’re not afraid to use it. There’s a lot of cyberbullying and whatnot. I’ve dealt with that a lot; I know Molly has too.

You have to remember it’s not personal, even if it feels that way. You’re doing your job and sending love back, and hope that people will stop being mean at some point and embrace you the way they did the first person.

You’ve now spent six seasons on Last Man Standing. When you look at that first season playing Kristin, how much has she changed since then?

I think it’s all really organic. I’m really grateful for that because I would be really sad if they didn’t utilize opportunities to have her grow like an actual person does. Luckily we’ve had the time to explore that with her. It feels very natural when that happens, like oh now this is where her path is turning and this is the challenge that she’s faced with.

I would definitely recognize Kristin from the beginning, I feel like she’s always been a strong, independent, vocal woman in an environment that is hard to be that [in] sometimes, and she’s sarcastic and dry. I think there’s elements to her that have grown in strength over the years, as she’s figured out who she is. Nothing’s ever felt out of left field, it’s never been a total curveball; it’s like walking alongside this character as she grows up and it’s been really nice for me.

Before Last Man Standing, you hadn’t done a lot of comedy. So what does it mean just to get to show this other side of Amanda Fuller’s talent?

It’s wonderful; we laugh so much. It’s funny for me, because I have done and love to do a lot of that heavier work, probably because I, myself, am kind of a dark person, so it feels very much in alignment with the arc that I love to create.

That being said, I need to laugh and I need light in my life in order to function, so I think it’s been a huge blessing for me to have a creative outlet—to tell this family story in an environment that forces me to stay light and be around laughter and comedians. I think it’s made me more of a full person.

The fun thing about a sitcom is we get to do it in front of a live audience every week, and that never gets old. Broadway, that’s always been a dream of mine, so sitcoms are the closest thing you can get to that while doing television.

We actually get a full audience every week and they always shape the show. Where they laugh is never where we expect them to, so you always have to be on your feet, and it feels fresh and new. That’s a huge gift. So there’s lots of things about being on the show that I feel like it’s God just helping me keep my sanity, while I’m also exploring all the other dark stuff that I love.

Next. More Last Man Standing with Jonathan Adams. dark

Last Man Standing airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on FOX. For more on this and other FOX shows, follow the FOX category at Hidden Remote.