AMC’s Kevin Can F**k Himself introduces a unique premise and brand of storytelling into the TV fold. A “sitcom” wife, Allison McRoberts (Annie Murphy), feels trapped in a hellish life of her boorish husband Kevin’s (Eric Petersen) devising. Thus, she embarks on a risky mission to kill him with her neighbor and partner-in-crime Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) by her side.
Embroiled in the middle of it all is Detective Tammy Ridgeway (Candice Coke), whose objective is to find Worcester’s drug dealer. Of course, she’s unaware that she’s dating the said drug dealer when she grows closer to Patty. Straightforward and to the point, Tammy is the only character who truly says what she means.
With the season finale looming on the horizon, I had the privilege of chatting with Candice about her role on the show, the unique way she scored Tammy, working with Mary Hollis and more.
This interview has been condensed for clarity.
Melody McCune: Let’s get started! What was the audition process like for the show? Did you initially audition for Tammy?
Candice Coke: I did! Funny story, actually. When I first got the scenes and the sides, we were all self-taping. I had a crazy busy weekend of three auditions that I needed to put on tape. I was at a friend’s house and I was like, “I have to do this one with a Boston accent.”
So, I called my girlfriend up and I’m like, “Rachel, say these things with a Boston accent.” I pulled it together. Two days later, I got a phone call from my team. They’re like, “They loved what you did with the audition. They want to ‘chemistry test’ you.”
I was a professional dancer for a very long time. So, I had friends that were creative directors for the Mariah Carey Christmas special (Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special). I was standing in for her — it was a four-week job. It was crazy hours. I get the chemistry test, and it’s Tuesday at 11:05. And I had to be in downtown Los Angeles at 10:45.
In an arena where there are sets and crews and dancers … I have to do this chemistry test. So I brought my computer to set. I couldn’t get on the wifi. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to miss my appointment.” I had a curling iron plugged into the wall. I also had my iPhone as my mirror.
Fortunately, within the nick of time, my producer’s computer launches. So, we do the scenes. A couple of times I do them with a Boston accent, and I do them with a straight accent as well. At the end of the first scene, all you hear is, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas…”
It was so loud. The scene was the bar scene where she’s drinking the vodka tonics. I was like, “I can’t believe they’re playing Christmas music at this time of the year.” I used it in the scene and we all laughed about it. It worked. I don’t know how but it worked. Timing is everything, I guess.
MM: Were you given a backstory for Tammy or was that something you had to create for yourself?
CC: It was more or less something I had to create for myself. We’re still learning about who she is and hopefully, as the show continues, you get to see a little more of [that] and why she is the way she is.
MM: What’s so refreshing about her is that she’s very straightforward while living in a town where nobody really says what they mean. She doesn’t beat around the bush. Was that an aspect of her personality that was fun to play with as an actor?
CC: Absolutely. I love how direct she is. It comes across as bossy and tough, but as you said, it’s really just straightforward and there’s no judgment about it.
She’s a detective, which has rules and regulations, but even in her personal life where you think there would be rules and regulations, she breaks [them]. You see her in a dress on her date night, which I think was a wonderful choice for her character development. You tend to see people stereotyped when they’re in a certain genre.
I don’t want to give too much away if people aren’t caught up. No matter who you are — race, gender — you’re allowed to be any version of that. You don’t have to fit into a box. I like that about Tammy’s character, and how we see her grow and change.
MM: Do you have a favorite scene featuring your character? Without giving too much away, of course.
CC: I definitely love the multi-cam scene because it’s so much fun and I got to actually cross over from one world to the other. I love when you see her at the top of episode four when she busts into Patty’s house. She’s like, “I’m here. You didn’t invite me in and I’m going to walk around your apartment.” It was fun playing that character with that kind of intention. She knew what she was there to do. Then, she may find out she was there for another reason. You know?
MM: As you mentioned, you also get to dabble in the sitcom aspect of the show. What was it like making the switch from the real world to those larger-than-life antics of the sitcom world?
CC: I was a little nervous at the beginning because I’ve never sat on a set like this. I was like, “You got to show up today, Candice. Just be ready.” But I also gave myself permission to fail and make mistakes.
I think when you allow yourself the freedom to not be “perfect,” you actually free yourself up a bit to have some fun. It was wonderful. I had so much fun. Everybody was laughing, and I think that’s the most important thing, right? As long as they weren’t laughing at me, it’s fine. Just kidding!
MM: Do you have a fun behind-the-scenes story from the set?
CC: Mary Hollis, who’s wonderful. Just the kindest, sweetest person.
MM: Oh, she’s so good!
CC: Even watching the show back, I’m going, “Oh God, she’s so good.” Her nickname is “Hot Dog.” She loves hot dogs, so I came onto the set like, “Why do they call you Hot Dog?” She’s like, “Because when we first had a table read, one of the other characters was like, ‘I love hot dogs.'” She’s like, “No, no, no, no, you don’t love hot dogs more than I do.”
I was like, “Well, if they’re going to call you Hot Dog, then they have to call me Tom Cruise. Because I love Tom Cruise probably just as much as you love hot dogs.” It was funny to try to get them to call me Tom Cruise, but it didn’t last very long. We’ll see what happens for Season Two. We’ll really push for that Tom Cruise credit.
MM: We’ll make it happen! Did you know ahead of time that Tammy was asking Patty on a date in episode five?
CC: I knew. I don’t think she knew, which is fun and why it’s so interesting that she’s intrigued too. I think because not only is Tammy a detective, but she could pick up on the energy Patty was putting down. So, she was like, “I’m going to jump on that.” Patty is still discovering who she is as well. It just fell into place. We’ll see what happens.
MM: You and Mary Hollis have such great chemistry together. Is that something you two built up or did it happen naturally?
CC: It happened naturally. Even when I first got word that I was doing a chemistry test with her, she sent me a text. She was very welcoming, easy-going. She was lovely before I even met her. Then, when we got to set, we’re working, we’re in trailers … at the time of COVID.
You can only build relationships with so many people. We had the opportunity to be in the trailer at the same time. We would obviously run lines. I got to learn a bit about her during that time. She’s just a lovely human being, and made it super easy to love her as a person and as a character. We couldn’t spend time together off set, but I feel like in the future we will.
MM: Did you do anything, in particular, to prepare for Tammy?
CC: I read the scripts. I think preparation comes easy with a script like this because the writing is so good. They let you play and find your way, fortunately, and unfortunately, sometimes, I can relate to Tammy. I’m a New Yorker. I am Jamaican and Polish. I come from a very strong line of women who are very direct, and know what they want and come off bossy a bit with the most lovely intentions behind it.
I can relate to Tammy also living in a world where she has to be accepted by a group of men, and she’s a woman of color on the floor. She has to be strong. She has to have a voice, she has to be smart, she has to be three steps ahead of the game, but she’s also a human being. We have to allow her room to grow as well.
MM: What can fans expect for the finale of the show?
CC: A great ending! They can expect an interesting surprise. I obviously can’t give anything away. I don’t want to. I think at the end of this season, people are going to go, “Oh wow. Okay.” Then, you’re going to go, “I definitely want to see more of it.”
I mean, of course, I play her on the show, but even after finishing the series, I’m like, “Oh, I want to see what’s going to happen.” I want to see what happens between Tammy and Patty, with Patty and Allison, with all the relationships that are now intertwining. I hope the audience feels the same way. I feel like they’re going to.
MM: Candice, thank you so much for chatting with me! I’m excited to see how the show ends, and I’m excited to see what happens between Tammy and Patty.
CC: Thank you, Melody!
Be sure to follow Candice on Twitter and Instagram. You can watch her in the highly anticipated season finale for Kevin Can F**k Himself, currently streaming on AMC Plus with a broadcast debut set for this Sunday at 9 pm on AMC.
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