NYCC: CW’s Nancy Drew Gets a Spooky Makeover

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Nancy Drew CW
Your new Nancy Drew: Kennedy McMann

The CW’s version of Nancy Drew, which premieres Wednesday, October 9th at 9 pm/8 pm Central, will skew a little bit older, with a 19-year-old heroine, will definitely be spookier and more supernatural, and everyone will have their secrets, some darker than others.

That’s the conclusion to draw from the Nancy Press press roundtables at New York Comic Con this weekend.

The roundtables included stars Kennedy McMann (Nancy), Maddison Jaizani (Bess Marvin), Leah Lewis (George Fan), Tunji Kasim (Ned “Nick” Nickerson), Alex Saxon (Ace, an original character), Scott Wolf (Carson Drew), and executive producers Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz, Melinda Hsu-Taylor (also the showrunner), and Noga Landau.

What the CW’s Nancy Drew Will Be Like

The show has made three changes to modernize Nancy Drew. First, this Nancy will be an adult, dealing with more adult-style problems–her mother has recently died–whereas the books are more for beginning readers.

“Nancy has been updated and she’s a little more complicated,” said Hsu-Taylor, the showrunner for Nancy Drew. “It’s also more adult. She and Nick have a physical relationship. We’re going to show what healthy and consensual relationship look like.”

Second, the supernatural stuff is real.

“There’s always been a hint of the supernatural in the original mysteries, like the rumors of a ghost that turns out not be a ghost,” Hsu-Taylor said. “We thought, what if the ghosts were real?”

What hasn’t changed? Nancy herself.

Several of the producers, including Hsu-Taylor and Stephanie Savage, said they were big fans of the character and Hsu-Taylor even said, “I can’t believe we were the ones to grab this.”

But perhaps the biggest Nancy Drew fan is Kennedy McMann, who plays the title character.

“I don’t know how I got so lucky to get this,” McMann said. “I loved Nancy Drew.”

McMann drew on her personal sense of who Nancy is for the role, saying she had a “confident sense of who Nancy should be.” And that was a great place to start for this show’s version of Nancy.

“Like the books, she’s an incredible character who does incredibly brave things,” McMann added, saying that this show was basically about the “kids” going up against the machine.

There will be some nods to other versions of Nancy Drew—especially the appearance of Pamela Sue Martin, who played Nancy in the 1979 version of the show—in CW’s Nancy Drew pilot. Later on, viewers might recognize other elements from the books, including episode titles.

And, yes, this Nancy still has an awesome roadster to drive.

Nancy Drew CW
The cast of Nancy Drew: Tunji Kasim (Nick), Scott Wolf (Carson Drew), Kennedy McMann (Nancy), Maddison Jaizani (Bess Marvin), Leah Lewis (George Fan), Alex Saxon (Ace).

The Supporting Cast

One thing that’s immediately evident from the cast is that an effort was made to be far more inclusive than in the original books, a welcome change from the all-white world of the original Nancy Drew.

The most intriguing character might be Ace, played by Saxon, who Saxon described as a “blank slate” in terms of possibilities available in the new character. Saxon was cagey about his role, only confirming that he worked at the diner with Nancy, as a dishwasher, but there’s obviously much more to him.

Similarly, the familiar supporting cast from the books have been rounded out and given complicated and in-depth backstories.

Ned Nickerson, a supportive boyfriend, is now “Nick” Nickerson, a mechanic who fixes things with a past that includes a juvenile manslaughter conviction–a “complicated” backstory. Kasim consulted those who’d had experience re-adjusting to life after prison, working with ARC, a prison reform organization.

“Through ARC, I spoke to four guys who had just come out and they were generous in sharing their real-life experiences of dealing with prison and how that changes you,” Kasim said.

Bess and George, reliable but one-note characters in the books, have been reimagined too. Initially, the trio of Nancy, Bess, and George aren’t the close friends we see in the books.

“What I like about George is how she takes care of everyone,” said Lewis. “She’s very straightforward and very honest about the way she deals with things. But,” she added, “everyone is not who they seem to be. Things are going to get way crazier than you expect.”

As for Bess, “She’s very independenty, completely self-sufficent and going through an identity crisis,” Jaizani said. “She’s quirky and so much fun to play.”

But Wolf, familiar to many viewers from Party of Five, said his character might be hiding the biggest secrets of all.

Wolf said, while the bond between Nancy and her father remains strong, Carson has a number of secrets and may even “be a bad guy.”

Sounds like Horseshoe Bay definitely needs Nancy on the case.

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