The new CW drama series Nancy Drew follows the brilliant teenage detective (Kennedy McMann) who was known for solving mysteries in her hometown of Horseshoe Bay, Maine, until her mother’s untimely death derailed all of her plans and made her swear off of crime-solving. And then, a murdered socialite puts Nancy right in the path of the crime and she finds herself having to team up with high school nemesis George Fan (Leah Lewis), mysterious rich girl Bess Marvin (Maddison Jaizani), burnout Ace (Alex Saxon) and her secret boyfriend Ned “Nick” Nickerson (Tunji Kasim), in order to clear all of their names.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Scott Wolf (who plays Nancy’s father, Carson Drew) talked about how much fun is it to be a part of telling the story of Nancy Drew, his journey from losing out on to getting this role, why he was drawn to the Nancy-Carson dynamic, the fractured family relationship, and how the show just keeps getting better.
Collider: How much fun is it to be a part of Nancy Drew?
SCOTT WOLF: It’s so much fun. I feel like we’re focused in on this version and this story that we’re telling, but these are big shoes to be stepping into and iconic characters. I love what our writer/producers are doing, which is taking a strong inspiration and even some direct connective tissue from the source and from the book canon, but then really allowing it to be its own thing and own incarnation of it. I re-read some of the books, and maybe because I was a kid and I was just seeing it through the kids’ perspective, but the Carson character and their relationship was a wonderful connection in that old book, and I don’t know if I clocked it, when I was a kid. Reading it now, I’m seeing it mostly from that perspective, since I’m playing Carson. I was reading the second book, The Hidden Staircase, and Carson winds up being kidnapped, and her concern for him and how much those two characters meant to each other in the books is something that matters to this show.
When this came your way, what was your reaction to the possibility of doing a Nancy Drew TV series?
WOLF: It’s funny because, before I read it, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. A lot of people who saw the trailer for the pilot had the same reaction, where it started and they were like, “Oh, wait,” because the tone and the energy had been brought into a contemporary setting. Audiences appetites to be spooked has increased over time, so our version isn’t an old-fashioned scary thing, but it’s a current scary thing. So, before I read it, I found myself curious, but I had a set of expectations. Right away, just like with watching the trailer for the show, when I opened the script, just reading it, for the first time, there were relationships and tones, and there was just something about the writing that immediately suggested this is not a Nancy Drew that you’ve read before or seen before. I just had one of those experiences where it was over before I knew it, and I fell really deeply into it and got instantly excited about the prospect of maybe finding my way to be involved with it. Especially during pilot season, you might read dozens of scripts, and certain ones stand out for different reasons. This one stood out for all of the most important reasons, which was that it was fundamentally just really good, it had great characters, it was really clear, you got a sense of the world, and it felt like something I hadn’t seen before, so it felt novel, in that way. It just lit my imagination on fire. It was very evocative, so it was exciting to just imagine where it might go.
Watching it, you very quickly get a sense of who these characters are.
WOLF: Yes, for sure. And from an acting standpoint, that’s really our doorway into it. It’s about, does it ring true? Do the voices sound like real people? Do the relationships feel authentic? I was particularly drawn to the relationship between Carson and Nancy because, when we find them, they’re really struggling. There’s the fact that they lost Kate, Carson’s wife and Nancy’s mom, and that’s just an enormous loss. They dealt with her illness, but in many ways, for whatever reason, although they were together, during Kate’s stillness, in the aftermath, they’ve separated, and they’ve mourned her differently and alone. Carson just immersed himself back in his work life, and the things that he did to cope didn’t, unfortunately, involve Nancy. And the things she needed to do to cope, she had to do without him. But then, there’s this other part of it, that she’s now been forced to stay home, after she graduated. So, technically, she’s not a little kid living at home anymore. She’s in this weird limbo. There’s a grown-up living there, and what are the rules anymore? What is his authority anymore? So, you’ve got these two characters, sorting through all that, in the aftermath of this horrible loss. I loved the idea that you’ve got these two people who are so fundamentally connected, who really understand each other, and who are father and daughter, but cut from the same cloth. The inquisitive side of him, as an attorney, fed into the fact that she wanted questions answered, in her own world. They share more than they don’t, but to find two people who are that connected, but just can’t figure it out right now, and there’s a gap and a distance and a weight and a pain between them, that they don’t know how to break through.
Are they at a place where they recognize what’s going on between them, or have they not figured that out yet?
WOLF: No. If you sat each of them down and said, “Talk to me about the reasons why you’re struggling,” there’d be stuff. The loss and the change of the shape of their relationship, in terms of the fact that she’s technically an adult, but still living at home, they could point to those things, but there’s a lot that they don’t really fully understand yet, and are gonna have to find their way through and discover. There was a moment, at the end of the pilot, where there’s this one little glimmer that shines out of all of the angst between them. What I love about the way that this thing was built, from the beginning, is that, even though most of what we’re gonna see between these two characters, especially at the outset, but it lives for awhile, is that it’s gonna take time for them to sort it out, but what always lives underneath it is how much they love each other, and how much each of them would kill to just break through whatever this stuff is between them. That desire, on both of their sides, met with the fact that they just can’t figure it out, makes for really painful, but great storytelling.
Because you came to the show after the pilot had already been shot, did you have to jump in very quickly?
WOLF: Yes, but from the first time I read it, I saw myself in it and felt like I belonged doing it. I met these guys in the throws of pilot season. At the time we met, I was on hold ‘cause I had tested for a different show. And then, the way it all went down, it didn’t come to me, but it was the one that got away. It was in my system for awhile, so I had read the pilot, and then, I read it a second time before I met on it. Just the imagery of it and the world was swimming around in me, but I put all of that to rest because I didn’t think I was gonna be doing it. So, hitting the ground running didn’t feel like hitting the ground running with something that I wasn’t familiar with ‘cause it had been in my system for awhile, but it was hitting the ground running. On day one, my start to work was all of the re-shoots. And then, day two was my first episode. There’s a good side to that because you don’t have too much time to sit around and worry and think. You’ve just gotta go do it. And this group was welcoming and lovely and encouraging, and they made me feel right at home.
That’s really cool that it came back your way, after not being able to do it, originally.
WOLF: The day that it happened, I was in my car, driving my kids around, and I was just kicking the pilot season around, and I came to this one, and this one was the one that had gotten away. I wondered if I could have done it any differently? I had already tested, and the producers and I had really connected, when we met. It just went the way it did. So, I parked the car at the house, went inside, got a text from my wife, and she was like, “Some folks are looking for you.” And then, I got the call. I’m a big believer in things happening the way that they’re supposed to. My mom always ingrained that. Even in a situation like this, where it feels so right, and then it doesn’t go the way you hoped, it can still come around. And I’m grateful ‘cause I’m super connected to it, and Kennedy McMann is wonderful. She’s an incredible talent, and she and I have this source level connection that just feels like it will fuel things in a really fun way, for the people watching the show. It just gets better and better. It’s one of those show that, for us, every script arrival is like Christmas morning. It’s fun.
Nancy Drew airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.