Leah Remini Breaks Silence On Taking Erinn Hayes’ Leading Lady Spot on ‘Kevin Can Wait’

Leah Remini is set to reunite with Kevin James on the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait, but she is stopping short of confirming that she will be a romantic lead opposite her former TV husband. Remini, who co-starred with James for nine seasons on the CBS comedy The King of Queens, revealed that her Kevin Can Wait character is merely a reprisal of the role she played in two stunt episodes at the end of the show’s first season.

In an interview on The Late Show, Remini told host Stephen Colbert that she will return she will return to Kevin Can Wait as undercover cop Vanessa Cellucci, the character she played on the CBS’ sitcom’s two-part finale back in May.

“At the end of his first season, I played his ex-partner,” Remini explained.

“We were cops together, we were detectives together. So I just come back as that character.”

While Leah cut Colbert short when he tried to say she would be playing “the hot wife of the doughy guy” again, she admitted she likes James’ “dough.”

Colbert commented that fans liked seeing the former co-stars together again 10 years after the King of Queens signed off, to which Remini replied, “I loved that. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Leah Remini and Kevin James played married couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan for nine seasons on The King of Queens, which ran from 1998 to 2007 on CBS. When news first broke that she would be made a series regular on Kevin Can Wait, Leah took to Instagram to post a story about it with the caption: “Dreams really do come true.”

CBS programming executives recently announced that Kevin James’ on-screen wife, who is played by Erinn Hayes, will be killed off of Kevin Can Wait. CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told reporters at CBS’ TCA panel that the move had nothing to do with Hayes’ acting abilities or Remini’s return, and that the decision to kill off her character, Donna Gable, was an organic one as the show undergoes a creative reset.

But Kahl didn’t downplay Leah Remini’s undeniable chemistry with Kevin James in the well-received Kevin Can Wait two-part finale, “The Sting of Queens.”

“When everybody collectively saw how Leah and Kevin were together in those last couple episodes, there was an undeniable spark there,” Kahl told reporters. “Kevin, the studios and the network all got together and wanted to keep that magic and chemistry going forward.”

Kahl reiterated that Leah was originally tapped for “a stunt episode at the end of the season” and that there had been no thought of her replacing Hayes as the female lead on Kevin Can Wait.

“It wasn’t a test run,” the CBS president said of Leah’s guest stint.

“She was brought on as we often do stunt casting to pump a little something into the show, and it turned out really well.”

Remini told the Hollywood Reporter she will relocate to New York to shoot Kevin Can Wait. Leah’s husband, Angelo Pagan, and daughter Sophia, 13, will travel from Los Angeles to be with her on the weekends so Sofia can stay in her current school. Remini told THR she has no idea what her character’s story arc would be, although the death of James’ TV wife Donna obviously leaves the door open for romance. Still, Leah said she had no idea her two-episode Kevin Can Wait guest stint would turn into a permanent job.

“My agent just said, ‘You’re going to be on the show.’ I said, ‘How many episodes?’ He said, ‘No — you’re going to be on the season.’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God — that’s amazing!'” Remini revealed.

Kevin Can Wait fans have had mixed feelings about the impending death of Erinn Hayes’ character. Donna Gable will be missed, but for King of Queens fans, Kevin James and Leah Remini are a match made in TV heaven.

You can see Leah Remini and Kevin James’ Kevin Can Wait chemistry in the video below.

[Featured Image by Jeff Neumann/CBS]