‘Nancy Drew’: Kennedy McMann Previews How Nace Will Handle Their Cursed Romance

Kennedy McMann and Alex Saxon in 'Nancy Drew'
Colin Bentley/The CW

Curses, indeed!

As Nancy Drew fans know, our favorite gumshoe (Kennedy McMann) and Ace (Alex Saxon) — her buddy-turned-bf for a hot second — are doomed to never be together again. Should they act on their feelings, they will be the last ones Ace ever has before perishing, thanks to a Horseshoe Bay hag who hexed Nancy at the end of last season. Of course, curses were meant to be broken and #Nace is too hot to just smolder for this fourth and final season, so we have a sneaking suspicion these two will figure out how to get around the evil spell.

It won’t be easy, though. Especially now that Nancy is poised to drop this bombshell on the guy she’s ghosted for the past few months. On top of that, La Drew is about to get pretty toxic while helping pal George (Leah Lewis) crack the mystery of her poisoned boss. Is Nancy under another curse? Or is there something in the water that makes the folks around these parts fall apart?

Here, the always awesome Kennedy McMann explains what lies ahead for Horseshoe Bay’s troubled couple, previews her macho turn, and opens up about closing the case on this fabulous series.

Hi! How are you?

Kennedy McMann: I’m great. I’m so excited to be talking to you.

Same! Granted, it sucks that it’s for the last season for Nancy, but you know, you got something else going on, which is very cool.

Aww, thank you. I really appreciate that.

So how was it getting to bring the Nancy Drew story to an actual end here?

I’m so grateful, genuinely, that we got to give this series a proper conclusion, both on a practical side of things for our crew who has been with us for so long — for the cast, the writers to all know that we were ending gave everyone permission to savor our last couple of months together — and then also for the fans. I dreaded the possibility that we would leave on some horrible cliffhanger.

That was my nightmare. I don’t think I would ever feel right again. So I’m very glad we have a proper conclusion where people can sigh at the end. I mean, I can’t promise everything and everyone will be fine, but there’s a conclusion. I think we’ll give people closure

And the writers did not waste time setting everything in motion. We got to the end of the first episode and Nancy was ready to tell Ace what’s going on.

Oh yeah, they wrote those checks. [Laughs] A great thing that our writers have done over the seasons is paying out things that people are waiting for. Our fans had been waiting for over 400 days or something crazy like that. I read something where people have been like spiraling over this for so long. I’m so glad that we just kind of give them information and story about it right off the bat.

Tunji Kasim, Alex Saxon, Maddison Jaizani, Kennedy McMann, and Leah Lewis in 'Nancy Drew'

Colin Bentley/The CW

So maybe it’s because it’s been 400 days or what, but when the show came back, everyone feels much more adult, almost that they’re all at new jumping-off points.

Yes, definitely. And those jumping-off points are a huge part of the season for all of the characters individually. We get to see everybody in new lights and see them really consider what skills they’ve gathered over the very strange activities they’ve participated in in the last couple of months. They will look at those things and say, “You know, what has this inspired in me?” and “Where can I take that and use that as a driver in my life?”  It’s a really cool exploration of that for every single character and also as a group, too.

Now, this Tristan (Henrique Zaga)! 

Mmm-hmmm. Yes. Our hot lobster man. [Laughs]

Come on! I mean, the only fish monger who could also be on a magazine cover.

[Laughs] Exactly. Also, where are all of these eligible bachelors coming from!?

Obviously, we need this character to be a bit of a spoiler for the #Nace of it all, but he’s gonna play into this storyline more than just potential boyfriend stuff, right?

Absolutely correct. Yes. Tristan is a fascinating character throughout the entire season, and I don’t think people will really fully understand him and his role in Nancy’s life and within the town until probably the final episode.

Oh, wow. And I’m sure you are all used to doing the late-night shoots, but last week, when it’s a group of dead bodies just doing “Thriller” in front of you, that has to be creepy as hell, right?

Oh yeah. It was amazing. It was definitely one of the only times where several of us have actually felt anxious. [Laughs] And obviously, you meet these people who are playing these dead bodies and you understand the reality of the situation, but it’s actually night, we’re actually in the middle of the woods and we do these big wide shots where the crew is super far away. There’s rolling fog, you’re running through it, and all of a sudden, these bodies start moving around and it really does captivate you!  You’re sucked into the reality of the moment, and it’s pretty freaky. Also, it’s not the last freaky thing to come, either.

Tunji Kasim, Kennedy McMann, Maddison Jaizani, and Alex Saxon in 'Nancy Drew'

Colin Bentley/The CW

No, I’m sure there’s a lot. And the best thing is, four seasons in and you’re still doing it with the same group of great people.

The nicest. And so much of that was because there was a real dedication from everybody working on the show from the top, really preserving that positive experience for everybody. They put our experience at work, our crew’s experience at work, as a high priority. And that meant that anybody that maybe wasn’t gelling perfectly or maintaining that sort of awesome work environment, they didn’t stay around for too long. And by the way, there are plenty of incredible, wonderful people who were only on our show temporarily, so don’t read into that. Incredible people have come through and then left, but not because they weren’t awesome. But yeah, we really did our best to maintain a high standard in terms of people actually having a good time enjoying their lives. Because when you’re working, it really is your entire life.

And like you said, that starts at the top with [showrunners] Noga Landau and Melinda Hsu Taylor, who we know haven’t had the greatest experiences working on other shows.

Absolutely. I have had so many moments where I’ve been able to come to them for something that had come up and expected a certain answer or a certain response because I think a lot of us operate from a place of fear — whether that’s from prior experiences or just kinda horror stories you hear about the industry, right? And they take those negative experiences and the negative workplaces that they’ve been in in the past and instead of perpetuating that, they choose to look at it, realize how it made them feel when they were responded to it in a particular way, and make the choice to change it, to break the cycle, and treat people with respect. And it is a beautiful thing to experience.

I’m so glad that this was your first real show experience.

Yes. And to also have people like Scott Wolf and Riley Smith throughout this, you know, the more veterans. [Laughs] They would always tell us younger kids, “This is one of those jobs that you will always look back on and think that was one of the good ones.”

And those two guys are killing me with this Carson-Ryan budship.

[Laughs] The buddies! Oh my gosh, I know. Oh, they’re great. And it’s just delightful to watch because Scott and Riley so thoroughly enjoy their time together on screen, it’s so fun to be around them. They bring such a fresh breeze into the room and life and into the show. They’re awesome.

Alex Saxon and Kennedy McMann in 'Nancy Drew'

Colin Bentley/The CW

Love it. And now let’s talk about this Nancy-Ace thing. When she tells him about the curse, how is this going to impact them? Because I feel like Ace is not gonna just take it sitting down.

No, no, I don’t think so either. [Laughs] Nancy has already lived this alternate reality [of them as a couple] for months in her head. And she’s spent the last five weeks between the Season 3 finale and the Season 4 premiere coping with this information and having enough time to let it sink in and look at it at all angles and come to a conclusion…which is that she will not touch it with a 10-foot pole. It’s too dangerous. It’s not worth the risk. She made this choice, and she has to live with it.

But when Ace finds out about this information suddenly, he is sort of faced with where Nancy was at the beginning of her journey, and sort of feeling like, “No, we can’t just give up. We have to look at it from this way and this way and this way.” Nancy’s going to be like, “I know! I have!” He’s really just not going to be able to wrap his head around that, and I think that causes some really interesting conflict between the two of them in the coming episodes.

Ace was such a lonely kid when we first met him, so for him to feel like he’s losing this important connection is heartbreaking.

Yes. Definitely. He’s already had to deal with this sort of crushing, confusing disappointment that he is under the impression that he misread his entire relationship with Nancy up until this point. And I think that has caused him so much pain. I mean, it’s so much loneliness, so much loss. And now that he’s had a taste of what the future could hold, I think he’s going to grab onto that with both hands.

I know you get to channel your inner Alpha-male in this week’s episode…who was that based on?

Oh my god! Imagine my reaction reading that script?! That’s a good question. You know, as any young woman that’s ever been to college, you interact with quite a number of fellows like this. That was definitely some source material for my personal inner Alpha male. My God, it was really fun.

Did you get to improvise any of that? Because it’s so cringey…we all know that guy.

Right, right. I have no idea what made it into the episode, I haven’t seen it, so it’ll definitely be a surprise. But I imagine some of the improv would likely have made it in there. The physicality was really the most fun.

The Nan-spreading!

Oh yes. [Laughs].

I’m sure we’ll talk again near the finale, but how was it when you found out this was ending?

We found out [when] we were shooting [one of the later episodes] and it was just Tunji [Kasim] and me that day on set. Noga and Melinda and [their co-EP] Alex Taub all flew up from LA to tell us in person, [and] I’m so grateful that they came to set and gave everybody who’s given so much to the show the chance to hear it from them. And it was so strange. I mean, we were kind of standing there and I remember seeing them when I walked into set; they were gonna make an announcement after we did the take that we were about to do. And I remember saying to Tunji before the take, “Something’s going down… I dunno what it is, but something’s happening.” Leah was in her trailer — I think she was getting ready for the day — so then the three of us broke for lunch right after the announcement, and we just got together in her trailer and just kind of sat there like, “Whoa. It’s over.”

There were definitely some tears and some uncertainty, especially for those of us that are younger, you know? Myself and Leah and Maddison [Jaizani], this show has taken up the majority of our adult lives so far. So it’s a really interesting chapter to close on so many different levels.

Well, the good thing is there’s all sorts of fan conventions that y’all will be called in for.

I would love to go! I have a lot of people that I need to hug.

Nancy Drew, Wednesdays, 8/7c, The CW