Last Man Standing producers are looking to turn Molly Ephraim’s “unfortunate” exit from the series into an “exciting” opportunity. As TVLine reported last month, Ephraim opted not to reprise her role as middle daughter Mandy in the ex-ABC sitcom’s death-defying Fox revival. The character is in the process of being recast.
“When the show was cancelled… [Molly] got involved in some different things, so when [Last Man Standing] came back, she was not able to do it,” EP Matt Berry told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour. “It’s unfortunate. We love her deeply. She’s a big part of who we were. 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.”
Ephraim is not the only Last Man regular not returning for Season 7. As we also previously reported, Flynn Morrison, who played Tim Allen’s grandson Boyd, will not be back. As EP Kevin Abbott explains, “We’re going to have a new actor [playing Boyd] because we want to age up the character. We’re bringing him back at the age of 12, so we can do some fun storylines about a young man on the cusp of becoming a man.”
Kaitlyn Dever, who plays daughter Eve, will be back, but only on a recurring basis. “It’ll have been a year and a half passed in the Baxters’ lives between the last episode and the first episode, so Eve will be away at the Air Force Academy,” Abbott explained. “We’ll visit her sometimes there, and she’ll come visit us sometimes.”
Among the series regulars confirmed to rejoin leading Allen in Season 7 are Nancy Travis (as wife Vanessa), Amanda Fuller (eldest daughter Kristin), Jonathan Adams (Chuck), Christoph Sanders (Kyle), Jordan Masterson (Ryan) and Hector Elizondo (Ed).
Meanwhile, a brand new character is being added to the Baxters’ orbit. Vanessa and Mike take in a foreign exchange student from China. “We have, basically, a student from a different political system, who comes into [their lives],” Abbott explained, “And we get to have some wonderful discussions and conflicts.”
Last Man will reclaim its old ABC time slot, Fridays at 8/7c, beginning Sept. 28 on Fox.