Kaitlyn Dever teases what’s coming next on LAST MAN STANDING
On ABC’s LAST MAN STANDING, Tim Allen plays Mike Baxter, father to three very different daughters, in a Colorado suburb. His oldest, Kristen, is a young single mother to Boyd; middle child Mandy is a celebrity-and-beauty-obsessed drama queen. Youngest daughter Eve, the sarcastic tom boy who is struggling to shed the tomboy name is played by Kaitlyn Dever – a face familiar to fans of JUSTIFIED and the movie BAD TEACHER, among others.
I had the chance to chat with Kaitlyn (who recently celebrated her Sweet Sixteen) to discuss what’s coming up on LAST MAN STANDING, who breaks the most on set, what sets LMS aside from what’s on the air, and what’s taking her to Sundance this winter!
LAST MAN STANDING is such a throwback to shows that I’ve missed for so long!
Yeah, I know. It’s a family sitcom and they don’t have those any more.
Having gotten to play the character of Eve for a while now, do you have favorite things about her?
I love her dry sense of humor. I love it so much because I, in real life, have a complete dry sense of humor. I love how sarcastic she is; she’s always making fun of her sister Mandy, and she and Mandy are always doing fun things together. It’s always a joy to go to work and be able to do that.
I love how all of these characters are written so differently. The Eve sarcasm is great, and I wondered how much of you, as Kaitlyn, makes it into Eve, the character – are you as sarcastically funny as she is?
Yeah, definitely. I am always having sarcastic remarks against my sisters in real life. Me and Eve kind of share that same characteristic and that’s how we’re the same.
The character is very realistic – for the longest time, she was focused on soccer, and we’re seeing her as a teenager not as interested in sports. Has it been interesting to get to play the tomboy role, but also turning into a girly-girl here and there?
It’s been a really fun change. She was so tomboy-ish in the first season, and she’s girly-ing up int he second season. Where I get drunk in one episode, it was pretty funny [laughs]. It’s really fun to kind of switch, because she’s completely changed from season 1 to season 2, and it’s been really awesome to get to do both things.
What can you tease about what we’ll see in this week’s episode and beyond?
On this coming episode, it’s our Christmas episode – “Putting a Hit on Christmas” is what it’s called. Usually, TV sitcoms will have their Christmas episode will be about getting the family together and celebrating Christmas as a family [laughs]. Our show is a little different – in this episode, Mike Baxter and Vanessa are trying to get rid of everyone so that they can celebrate Christmas just by themselves, and just the two of them at home, so they’re trying to get rid of all of their kids [laughs]. Then Vanessa decides that’s wrong, so she wants them back, and then she wants to get rid of, and then they get back again. It’s very different than any other Christmas episode that you see on a sitcom. In upcoming episodes and storylines for Eve specifically – she joins the junior ROTC in an upcoming episode, which was really fun. She also gets to play Annie Oakley in a Buffalo Bill Day Show at Outdoor Man. It was really fun because I had to have this hilarious-looking Annie Oakley costume, and I got to shoot guns, like these guns that shot powder and they were really loud. It was so much fun because I got to do a Southern accent too. It was really fun.
I love the relationship that Mike and Vanessa have with each of the girls – they’re all so different. What’s it been like working with Tim (Allen) and Nancy (Travis)?
Tim and Nancy are really cool on set. They’re very professional. Mainly, I’ve learned a lot from them working with them, in their environment. From Tim, he’s always giving me how to say a comedic line. When we have a short, quick rewrite on a tape night, he’ll help me out with how to say the line and then have the audience laugh. Comedic pausing and stuff. He’s really good about helping me out with that – I’ve learned a lot from both of them.
The show is relatable – what are you hearing from people when you talk about the show – are they all in agreement that it’s a great show they can watch with their family?
Yeah for sure. It’s a great family show. I watch it with my family too. It’s on at a great time. Any time family can sit down and watch this show with their family. It’s really funny, and really enjoyable.
When you’re on set and shooting, is there one person who can make you break more than others? Who cracks you up?
Oh gosh! [laughs] I don’t know – this last taping, this past Tuesday, me and Molly were doing a scene with each other. I don’t know what was so funny. I had this burrito in my hand, and I was walking around the house, and I was making Molly laugh so hard. I make Molly laugh a lot of times, but then Molly makes me laugh so much. It’s hard to keep track. Tim is constantly making me laugh [laughs]. Sometimes I just don’t even look at him in a scene because I can’t even look at him without laughing sometimes!
You mentioned you have sisters – are your interactions with your family off set how we see Mandy, Eve, and Kristin onscreen? That ribbing between siblings?
In my real world, it’s a lot of the same! Me and my sisters are always making fun of each other. My littlest sister is always taking sides. She’s 8, and she’s always taking sides between me and my 14 year old sister [laughs]. I love both of my sisters. I feel like it’s the same kind of relationship between my real sisters and my fake sisters on the show!
Shooting in front of an audience versus shooting on film – how is that different, and how does it change how you approach the performance?
It’s really different. The whole energy is different. You have the audience, and you have to have a lot of high energy for the tape nights. When you’re shooting a regular film, or a TV show, it’s single cam, so there’s a lot more takes. It’s a lot different and when I first got LAST MAN STANDING and first did Season 1, it was a very different aspect for me because I’d never done a sitcom before.
We’ve seen you do drama, we’ve seen you do comedy – is there one you gravitate towards?
Everyone asks me this question but I can’t decide between both of them, but if I had to choose one, I don’t know!! I like drama a little bit more than comedy, but then again, I can’t choose between both of them. I love showing people diversity; I love showing people that I can do comedy and drama. I can do a really dark role, and then a really, preppy role kind of like I did in BAD TEACHER. I love showing people that I can do a lot of things.
It helps in your career too, so you’re not pigeonholed as a drama actor vs a comedy actor, or a one trick pony.
That’s definitely been an important thing that I want to show people that I can do other things other than just one.
Let’s talk about THE SPECTACULAR NOW!
Yeah, THE SPECTACULAR NOW. I did that over the summer with Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson. It was really, really fun. It was the first movie I’ve done that I got to shoot outside of California. Everything I’ve shot has been in California and I’ve always wanted to travel for a film or something! I got to go to Georgia for THE SPECTACULAR NOW, and it was really cool. It was my first time being there. I got to play a girl named Krystal and she’s best friends with Shailene Woodley’s character, Aimee. She’s very controlling of Aimee; she’s very bossy, and she thinks she knows more than anyone else. She’s kind of unlikeable. No one really likes her but Aimee, and she’s always been the boss of the friendship between her and Aimee. It was a really fun role. Kind of like my character in BAD TEACHER. She’s very by the book. It’s a great, great movie. When I read the script, I fell in love with it.
It’s exciting that you’re heading to Sundance with it – have you been there before?
No, it will be my first time going, and I’m so, so excited. People have been warning me that it’s going to be so cold.
LAST MAN STANDING airs Friday nights at 8/7c on ABC!