LOS ANGELES – What Tim Allen would really like to do is play a villain.
“If there’s a good script out there for a funny villain, a warm, engaging, wonderful , horrible person,” he says, “I’m interested.”
While “Last Man Standing” still pleases him, the “Toy Story” star says he considered other options when the series was canceled at the end of the 2016-17 season. Like others, he was surprised that ABC would drop a hit comedy but he knew that’s the fickle nature of the business.
He looked at other options, did “Toy Story 4” and considered making “a couple of big sci-fi (scripts) I’ve had in my possession for a long time. I realized I was too old for them,” the 66-year-old says. But he did warm to the idea of playing a villain.
Before Allen could even take the next steps, he got a call from Fox. The network wanted to restart “Last Man Standing.”
“I was shocked how quickly they put the pieces together,” Allen says. “It had been like 13 months since we were canceled and that was like a whole season.” Producers reassembled the cast, got the same soundstages and premiered Sept. 28, 2018, on Fox.
In many ways, Allen says, the break enabled the show to change. “We’d been reinvented. Now the kids are grown up and it’s a different show.”
The new “Last Man Standing” has been just as much fun as it was before (“I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t”) and has become a cornerstone for Fox. What the time off revealed was just how much the audience loved it.
During standup tours, Allen routinely shows clips from his various projects – “The Santa Clause,” “Toy Story,” “Home Improvement” and “Last Man Standing.”
In recent years, the ovation for “Last Man” has been huge.
The reason: “It’s doing what Pixar did and what ‘Home Improvement’ did,” Allen says. “It’s funny, but it’s also respectful of family, of religion, of parents. We’re not placating. We’re not going to pull anything. The funny is just laid on top of that.
“Our writers all love family. Some of us are religious. Some of us aren’t. We just respect stuff that’s made this country.”
Like some of the show’s critics, Allen says he was shocked at the rebooted show’s response. “We get eight or nine million viewers. That’s amazing for a Friday night.”
It works, he says, because “you don’t have to worry that there’s something inappropriate.”
While recording his sessions as Buzz Lightyear for “Toy Story 4,” Allen says he had long discussions with co-star Tom Hanks about the phases of his career. He started in standup (“and loved it”), segued to “Home Improvement” (“and loved it”), then got into the movies.
“I did about 12 or 13 films and loved that to a point,” Allen says. “And then I got back into television. And that was a good idea. There hasn’t been a movie that I’ve watched that I’ve said, ‘God, I wished I had done that.’ I can’t do what Tom Cruise does.”
Now, he thinks there could be a third act – one in which he turns up as a villain.
“If you hear of a script,” he says with a smile, “just let me know.”