Molly McCook stars in the Food Network’s first-ever scripted feature and holiday movie, Candy Coated Christmas. Ahead of the premiere, McCook spoke with L.A. Confidential all about the movie, Christmas traditions and her decision to become an actor.
Last Man Standing ended earlier this year. How did it feel to close that chapter?
It's really bittersweet to close the chapter on the show. Every single person there is like family to me. And it was also an air of sadness that it was that our final season was during the pandemic because we didn't get to have a live audience and we didn't get to hug as much and hang out in each other's dressing rooms. So sadly, I feel like a piece of that was kind of taken away from us. But the good part of it is that we got to all be in it together and I wouldn't have been able to do it without people that I already had such a close bond with so I miss them, but I will always forever cherish my Baxter fam.
Candy-Coated Christmas was filmed over a few weeks during the summer in Utah. What was that like?
It was actually really easy to fall into the Christmas spirit because the house that we were shooting at was so beautifully decorated. Everybody that worked the movie really knew what they were doing. I think they all had a lot of experience in the Christmas department. And the fake snow really helped too, and sometimes there would be some Christmas music playing.
I was really excited to play Molly just because I felt like there were so many layers to her in terms of her being a little bit of a difficult person to connect with because she's been so used to having all the money in the world and all the opportunities thrown at her, so I thought it was a really big obstacle and challenge for me to to show that. That growth in the story from beginning to end— that really excited me.
What can audiences look forward to from Molly’s holiday story?
First of all, it'll be interesting to watch a Christmas movie where the lead character is dressed in Hawaiian clothing because she was getting on a plane to go to Hawaii for Christmas, which is her family tradition. And then she lands in cold Peppermint Hollow during Christmas time where everybody is dressed accordingly. It leads to a lot of fun, comedic moments and falling in snow and heels and not being prepared for the weather. And it actually really reminded me of Cameron Diaz's character in The Holiday, where she's used to the heels and glitz and glamour of L.A. I found that very similar with Molly just running through the snow and not knowing how to handle it and of pushing that idea away until she realized that she really loved it and loved the people.
Molly Gallant is in marketing as a profession, but she's definitely grown up a little bit of a spoiled brat I will say, and I can say that because I played her. She's about to embark on a big journey starting a big business with her best friend Gracie and in order to do that, she needs to use the seed money that she had, but unfortunately her family business has gone bankrupt. And so she goes to this small town of Peppermint Hollow to attempt to sell her mother's childhood home and, of course, this wonderful family is renting it out and and that's just the beginning of that whole saga and story. They're just wonderful people, which is something that she's not really used to. She loves the glitz and glamour of life and of course in a small town they're about the simpler and more important things, so it's a really big lesson for her.
Your real dad, John McCook, plays your dad in the movie. What was it like working together?
Working with my dad was so special to me and to him. I actually think it's something that we're going to be talking about for the rest of my life, for sure. It was just really fun and it was silly. And it was also really special that we got to share this particular project together being that I've spent my entire life celebrating Christmas with him and here I am across from him playing a different character and making new movie traditions. So we're really excited to sit down and watch this one together. Maybe it'll be an annual thing. Maybe we'll sit down and watch it every year or maybe we'll do more together.
Why did you decide to become an actor? Was it more than just wanting to follow in your dad’s footsteps?
I was the baby of my family, so I was always constantly begging for attention from everyone. I think that grew into really loving performing because my dad is an amazing pianist and he kind of got me singing, which is how that started. And then when I started doing kids theater performances that my parents encouraged me to do, I just actually fell in love with playing characters and acting, just like my parents... I knew what I wanted to do when I was very little, so it wasn't necessarily like I woke up one day and thought, “I'm going to try this.” It was just that it was constantly in my life and my parents never even pushed me to do it. It was something that as a kid, I just was like, “That interests me.” I was very lucky to have family that knew where to put me with kids theater companies and things like that, so we kind of got to share that artistry.
Tell us about your favorite holiday traditions! What are you looking forward to this year?
I think my tradition to blend the Thanksgiving time into Christmas is the night before Thanksgiving while I’m baking pies, I put on the first Harry Potter. Even though it's technically not a Christmas movie, there's Christmas time in it, which I feel like it's a good mix between the two, so I'm very excited for that.
Apple pies is my specialty. I'm not pioneer woman, I'm not an expert, but I'm very good at following recipes. I just find the best one that I can. The last couple years, I've gotten a little more creative with trying to decorate it, which is always kind of a question mark, but I think what matters is that they taste delicious. I do watch a lot of The Great British Baking Show, so my expectations are pretty high.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Candy Coated Christmas premieres Nov. 19 and will stream on Discovery Plus.
Photography by: The Riker Brothers