LOS ANGELES – Nancy Travis says she’s busier now than she ever has been.
Thanks to a tsunami of support for her sitcom, “Last Man Standing,” she got called back to do that and, in the interim, booked a leading role on the Netflix series, “The Kominsky Method.”
“It’s a gift to have one show but I am doubly blessed to have two,” she says with a big smile.
The situation emerged after ABC canceled “Last Man,” prompting Travis and others to seek employment. “A job ends and you think, ‘Am I at the end of the cliff now? Is this it?' I’m an actress of a certain age,” she says.
“The Kominsky Method” emerged, Travis accepted the role (as Michael Douglas’ student and partner) and then got the call to return to “Last Man.”
Yes, both were done at the same time.
“Because ‘Last Man’ shoots in front on an audience on Tuesday nights, I had to guarantee I’d be available Tuesday nights. Then, during the week, I filled in with rehearsals for ‘Last Man’ when I wasn’t being used on the other show,” she says.
To complicate matters, both have different filming techniques. “Last Man Standing” shoots in front of an audience with four cameras, “Kominsky Method’ is done with a single camera, more like a movie.
“Both shows live and die on the writing,” Travis says. “Chuck Lorre is fantastic on ‘The Kominsky Method.’ Kevin Abbott, our show runner on ‘Last Man,’ and that room of writers just keep turning out these great scripts after seven years. It’s incredible.”
The technical differences: “With a four-camera show, you’re telling that whole story in the night you shoot,” she explains. “It’s a bit like a play – beginning, middle and end. With a single camera, you’re shooting bits and pieces out of order and there are a lot of elements that go into creating the story. It’s not unnerving, but you don’t feel as in control.”
Single camera “feels a little more intimate. It’s this close to your face,” Travis says, indicating with her fingers. “You don’t need to sell the joke in a way that you would in another sitcom.
“It’s the same basic work – you have to know about your character and what you’re doing. The four-camera is just harder because it’s deceptive. You still have to be real and believable, even though you’re projecting in a bigger way.”
When Travis got back in the “Last Man” groove, she noticed the series had changed. “It feels like it’s evolving,” she explains. “The show started as one thing and then we had a number of different show runners who’ve had different ideas about the tone. Cast members have come and gone; cast members have grown up, so it feels different.”
And that’s fine. “When we started seven years ago, a lot of my scenes were with Tim (Allen). Now, we’re having different characters interact with other characters, which is fun.”
Viewers, the real-life mother of two says, have been vocal about changes but steadfast in their loyalty. “Their responses run the gamut from adamantly rejecting new casting because they’d gotten so close to the original casting to warmly embracing and welcoming,” she says. “But they’re the reason we’re here.”
When ABC cancelled the series, those fans got on social media and wouldn’t stop. Now, thanks to syndication, “the audience is growing. I think (viewers) like that the show has no agenda…it’s really just a family with different opinions trying to get through the day.”
Travis first noted the show’s popularity on Twitter. “My followers jumped precipitously and then they started posting all these questions. That’s part of the charm of the show. People feel like they know these people and they’re invited into this home.”
And “Kominsky Method”? It’s a chance for Travis to play another character and work with different actors.
“To have all this flower for me is, ‘Wow,'" she says. "You just never know.”