Does everybody know what time it is? Tim Allen definitely does. In the final season of Last Man Standing, Fox is pulling out all the stops — including reuniting Allen, 67, with one of the most famous characters he’s ever played, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor from Home Improvement.
In the first promo for season 9, Mike Baxter comes face-to-face with Tim Taylor, something Allen never thought would be possible. In fact, he told the writers, “Good luck,” when pitched the idea.
“There are some complex relationships between Disney and Home Improvement from way back when, and most of that is not public and not really valid,” Allen told Us Weekly exclusively. “So, it was a blessing. I was surprised and happy that everybody worked together and let us do it.”
When it was time to take on the character, who he last played in the 1999 finale, it wasn’t as easy as the comedian thought it’d be.
“I didn’t even think about what it’d be like playing a character that I developed from my stage act 20 years ago. I love comedy laid on top of drama or drama laid on top of comedy,” he told Us, adding that filming those scenes were the first they did without a studio audience due to the coronavirus protocols. “It got very scary. No studio audience, all masks, and everything. On top of all that COVID stuff, we have to do our jobs. It wasn’t easy to disconnect from the uncomfortable, the sadness of what COVID’s done to all of us. Now we’re back making jokes. It was difficult for me to play those two characters and sell it — as an actor and also as a creator. Ultimately, it’s very clever what they did. It’s very warm and fun.”
Outside of the pandemic, it also felt strange for Allen to be reprising the Toolman and bringing back the grunt again.
“It seemed weird and put on and phony, but the way it’s handled — it’s self-aware. It’s a moment where we break the fourth wall to him,” the Santa Clause star said. “The grunting was part of his deal and he kind of cops to that. He’s gotten old and he’s moved on. He no longer does Tool Time. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s really quite clever.”
The Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man author added that the Toolman has “moved on with his life” and now works for Binford Tools.
“He’s in Colorado for some meeting — Binford tools is everywhere — and he notices a guy that looks just like him,” he teased. “He says, ‘You know, people have told me I look like you!’ And obviously, we play with that for quite a bit.”
Last Man Standing returns with its final season on Fox Sunday, January 3, at 8:30 p.m. ET.