Kennedy McMann on the “Dream Come True” of Playing Nancy Drew

This fall, a new, sexier and more supernatural verison of Nancy Drew is coming to The CW. The teen detective, who has starred in dozens of novels and almost as many TV and film adaptations over the years, is coming to the network for a steamy new mystery, played by actress Kennedy McMann.

McMann, like a lot of kids of her generation, grew up surrounded by Nancy Drew and her more “boy-friendly” counterparts the Hardy Boys.

“I read all the books, I played all the games. It’s been a part of my life for so long, it’s truly a dream come true,” McMann told ComicBook.com.

While pilots like Batwoman and Katy Keene were being developed with a lot of eyes on them since they were spinoffs of popular, existing CW series, Nancy Drew was relatively quiet until after the pilot had been completed and the network started to get good buzz back. That means that a lot of fans don’t know whether to expect a version like what they have seen before, something a bit more like Riverdale, or something else entirely.

“It’s a bit of a thriller,” McMann explained. “Obviously it’s a mystery so there’s lots of detective work that you can see. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and we don’t sink into melodrama. These are friends who are smart and witty and funny, so there’s snark, there’s some romance. It checks all the boxes.”

McMann admitted that she felt pressure developing a pilot that was not only based on a beloved character, but had been tried and failed a few times recently. After a ’70s series that was a hit and a short-lived ’90s series, CBS has been trying to make Nancy Drew work for a while. A 2002 pilot failed to make it to series, and so became a TV movie starring Maggie Lawson (who would go on to star in Psych for 8 years and two movies and counting, so she did alright). Nancy Drew was released as a feature film in 2007, starring Emma Roberts. In 2015, and then again in 2017, CBS was developing Drew, a more hard-edged procedural version of the character’s adventures.

“It was a little intimidating, because I was like ‘they’ve tried this so many times. I’ve got to be the one to do it!'” McMann admitted. “We were all on our toes and I know CBS felt the same way. CBS Studios have had the rights for a while. So it feels really good to be able to fulfill those dreams for all of us.

IT standout Sophia Lillis appeared in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, a movie that was released earlier this year. That film was intended to launch a new series, but its future is likely up in the air given that the movie went straight to DVD, and the TV show has now gone to series. Kennedy said that while she and the rest of the cast found shooting a pilot while a brand-new movie series was beginning “super surreal,” she feels confident that there’s room in the market for both versions of the Lillis movie does well enough that Warner Bros. want to make more.

“It was very strange, because it happened, it was coming out after we ahd all auditioned for the pilot,” McMann said. “So we were like, ‘oh, this is odd,’ but it was very different from everything I’ve seen. I haven’t been able to see the film yet, but it seems very different so I think you can enjoy both Nancy Drews.”

Nancy Drew comes from Chuck and The OC co-creator Josh Schwartz and Runaways producer Stephanie Savage. Set in the summer after her high school graduation, 18-year-old Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) thought she’d be leaving her hometown for college, but when a family tragedy holds her back another year, she finds herself embroiled in a ghostly murder investigation — and along the way, uncovers secrets that run deeper than she ever imagined. The series will premiere this fall on The CW.

© Russ Burlingame
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