Now James, 52, is attempting to justify the move, saying it was for storytelling purposes. Considering James’ connection with Remini — the two starred as husband and wife for nine seasons on The King of Queens — many fans still believe the actor was trying to recapture the old magic instead of drumming up new chemistry with original co-star Erinn Hayes.
Not so, he claimed to the New York Daily News.
“I get that people are like ‘Whoa, why would you do this?’ But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward,” James said. “Now, I have to deal with my daughter in a different way, and she’s gonna go to college, or one’s getting married, or the holidays. And it deals with things in a different, weightier way.”
The series star revealed that the storyline of Kevin Can Wait has been adjusted since the beginning, so this is nothing new. He admitted that he was originally supposed to be a single father on the show, but eventually, he and his production team decided to give him a wife and three kids. The showrunners then felt, post-Season 1, that things were in danger of growing stale and they were seeking a multi-season show.
WATCH BELOW: Fans react to Erinn Hayes’ character’s death on ‘Kevin Can Wait’
Something had to change, they said, and that something ended up being Hayes.
“The plot of the show didn’t have enough drive,” James said. “If we got through a second season, I wouldn’t see us getting through a third one. We were literally just running out of ideas.”
Season 2 started up in September, and Remini arrived on the show as Vanessa Cellucci, Kevin’s former partner on the police force. So far, they haven’t connected romantically, but it’s probably a safe bet that it’ll happen as the show goes on. James was mum on that subject, but gushed about Remini joining Kevin Can Wait.
“When she came on … it was just the greatest,” James said. “Fans loved it, everybody on the crew loved it. We just knew right away, so we thought, ‘How can we get her here full-time to be on the show?'”
Remini, 47, also seems overjoyed at reuniting with James.
“It could’ve been next year, 10 years from now,” she said. “It could’ve been 10 years earlier. I would’ve taken any opportunity to work with Kevin again. I’ve worked with other leading men after Kevin, but there’s something very special that you just can’t kind of explain when something works with somebody.”