During a recent press conference call, Melissa Joan Hart, star of ABC Family‘s hit comedy series ‘Melissa & Joey‘, talked about the new summer season and what fans can expect. She let us in on guest stars and tipped us off that their are indeed some surprises coming up. Enjoy the Q&A with Melissa Joan Hart below.
Q&A with Melissa Joan Hart
On any surprises in this summer’s episodes: There are some surprises. I don’t know how far I’m allowed to say. Last season, season one, ended with a bathtub falling through the roof. So the beginning of the show starts off with a few episodes about the construction and the family living on top of each other.
Mel has a little fling with the cabinetmaker, played by Bren Foster, but then there is some stuff that happens at the end where Joey falls in love with a Russian colleague and there’s quite a little romance that goes on there, and that’s an arc. We have that for a few episodes. So Mel has to put up with this Russian chick in her house.
But in between that, there are really just a lot of fun, standalone story lines that happen and some great guest stars. This season it was really about keeping it light. Not having that very special episode. We don’t like to do those. We just want to make people laugh.
On guest stars from this season: Yes. Bren Foster, I think he’s Australian and he’s in one of the episodes; one of the first few episodes, one of the one’s that will air next week. Who else do we have? All the 45 episodes we’ve done kind of run together. So I’m having trouble remembering what people have seen and what they haven’t.
Who else do we have? Christine Lakin comes back for a really funny episode. She played my friend in one of the episodes last season. This season she is looking for a sperm donor and happens to want some of Joey’s stuff. That’s one of my favorite episodes; that is my favorite episode of this season coming up, the sperm donor episode.
But yes, that’s all I can think of right now. But Debi Mazar plays a great character. She’s like my—I’m thinking about reelection and she is my coach, my reelection campaign manager. So she is—it’s an episode called “The Knockout” and it’s pretty funny.
There’s a guy in a movie theater who starts picking a fight with Ryder, my nephew, and I stand up to him after telling Joey not to. I knock him out and it gets on video and it goes viral. And then the whole campaign is around whether or not I should be promoting the fact that I knock him out kind of thing, whether or not that’s a good example for the kids. It’s a really fun episode, and Debi Mazar does a great job in it.
And she and I met on the set of Dancing with the Stars. I really like bringing in a lot of these people that I’ve worked with before. That’s one of the fun parts about being Executive Producer is finding talented people all over the place and being able to work with them.
On being a part of Twitter and connecting with fans: Well within two seconds I can correspond with 200,000 people, which is pretty incredible; across the world. And what I really like about it is just seeing the immediate response of things.
Like the other night, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” the first movie, the Showtime movie was on. I don’t know what it was one, but it aired and my timeline was filled with people just talking about it. Being shocked that Ryan Reynolds was in that movie. It was just funny to see how many people were watching it.
I think it was actually maybe airing in the U.K. or the U.K. just got Netflix. So they can now watch Melissa & Joey in the U.K., which they’re all very excited about because it’s not airing yet there on a network and they’re all mad at me about that. But it’s fun. It’s like that instant response to of like, you know, just driving people to try products that I like or to know a little something about my family or something that I find funny.
I try to be careful not to over use it too much, but to also give everyone like a flavor of everything. Like what it’s like for me being a mom. What it’s like for me being an actress. What it’s like for me being a wife, you know. So like little tidbits of what my inside life is like.
But of course it’s an amazing tool to use. To be able to reach fans and get the audience to move, whether it’s for a certain charity reason or to watch the show, that kind of thing. It’s really amazing too to see how many shows this season got picked up because there was a buzz even though the ratings weren’t there. So you know that it can be used to help push different projects through.
On her background as a teen actor and working with Taylor Spreitler and Nick Robinson on the show: It’s funny. Joey and I both—they both respect us a lot, which is really nice. Teenagers, you never know if they’re going to totally rebel or be willing to learn, and they’re both really willing to learn. They really want to be in this business for a long time and they see what we’ve been able to do and they have shown that they really respect us. So it’s nice because we feel free to be able to tell them, “When you do this or you do that be careful,” or, “Watch out on social networks.”
They come to us sometimes with advice too, “What should we do with our career this way or that way?” And Taylor and I have become very, very close. She turns to me sometimes for boy advice and she baby-sits for me once in a while, which is really nice. So it is, it’s a great little working relationship.
Joey and I are constantly rolling our eyes and having flashbacks to our own years on sitcoms when we had aunts and uncles and parents on the show, and now here we are basically the aunt and uncle of these teenagers. On Sabrina I had two aunts. So now I’m the aunt. It’s weird. I hear myself saying things that they would say to me like, “You need to wear a bra.” I hear myself say it and I go, “Gosh, I remember rolling my eyes at Caroline Rhea when she said that to me.”
It’s funny; the tables have turned a bit. But we’re really lucky that we have good kids that are willing to listen, learn and be a part of the cast, really be an active part.
On challenges her character Mel will be facing this season: Well they’re getting older. There’s an episode where Taylor tries to befriend the new girl that she sees at school because she was the new girl last year. So she’s trying to be the good person by bringing this girl into her circle and trying to befriend her, but realizes that not everybody wants to be popular or liked or taken under someone’s wing.
There are a few episodes about relationships. Nick has a little girlfriend who we adore on the show. She’s been back and forth a little bit, Holly. She pretty much tortures him. So there are a few episodes with her involved.
And Taylor has a few episodes where she’s got a romantic guy with her. The one I directed with her and—what was the actor’s name? Anyway we’ve got these great little teen actors on the show and one of them plays her boyfriend for—for a few episodes—and there’s a nice little story line that happens with her and that relationship and us giving her relationship advice and stuff like that.
So the typical teen stuff, but they are getting older and they’re starting to teach us a few things as well.
On what she admires most about Mel: She’s really determined. She sets her heart to something. She thinks she’s got the—when she thinks she’s on the right path or she thinks there’s a mission to accomplish she will get to it. She will finish that mission. She is one of those women that is determined and has her convictions and sees things through, but she does it in a really silly, funny way.
On memorable scenes with Joey Lawrence: There have been a few. I mean the season ender in season one was pretty great. There’s a scene in his apartment and we’re eating Chinese food and there’s that moment where we could kiss. We might not kiss. We’re sharing Chinese. It’s dark. There was that—that was a nice moment.
But the ones we really like are the ones where we’re just bickering endlessly, and it’s that fast paced, quick, cutting humor. There are a few scenes I can remember in the kitchen around the island, in the season coming up, where it’s just—I think one of the ones I’m thinking of is the sperm donor episode where we just are tearing into each other. I’m picking on him. He realizes he was wrong or vice versa a lot of the time, where one of us is just kind of poking at the other one.
And it’s that fun, fast comedy that you don’t really see that often anymore. You see a lot of it in old movies like “His Girl Friday,” where it’s that fast paced humor going on, and we like to do that. Those are the ones when we have a hard time not cracking up at each other. But one of the more sentimental moments was definitely the end of season one.
On her success with going from teen actor to adult actor: I’m actually in the process of possibly writing a book about that because I don’t really know what that recipe is. I think that a lot of the balance and success in my life comes from my family. It comes from my mom and my dad and my siblings growing up, and now from my husband and my children and putting that always as a priority. Having that as my balance, as my sort of gauge of where to go with my life.
But as far as my career, I think it’s just been that at a young age growing up on the East Coast in this business I did a lot of auditioning. It was pretty cut throat. There was a lot of competition, and if you weren’t the best one for the job there was someone right behind you to do it. So you had to work really hard. You had to know your lines. You had to hit your mark. You had to have the biggest smile and think those Fruit Loops were the best thing ever.
And I think that I learned that if I want longevity I’ve just got to stick it out. I’ve got to work hard, and that’s—I’ve never given up. No matter—this career, in this business you just go up and you go down. There’s no finding that soaring star to hitch onto and carry you off into the galaxy. It’s constant work to reinvent and figure out the next role and keep working upward.
I’ve just learned that if I want to stick with it that’s what I’ve got to do. If I want a career in this business and I don’t want to transition and do something else, then I need to stick with it. Keep auditioning. Keep meeting people. Keep reinventing myself, finding great characters to play.
And that’s where producing comes in as well. I started producing at the age of 17 because I wanted to have some control over the projects I was putting out there and the characters I was playing. So producing has definitely helped.
And then also transitioning to directing because I got a little bit bored with the acting. I wanted to be more creative and found directing. So that’s been a great outlet for me as well just to keep me in the business. I just love being on a set. I don’t necessarily always need to act. I just love being on a set.
On balancing her career and family: Well that’s the trick. That’s what everyone, I think, is striving for these days. I work in L.A. but we live on the East Coast. We live in Connecticut. So during the season when the show’s going on I travel back and forth. This last season for these 15 episodes we shot these 15 in 18 weeks and I came home almost every weekend. I didn’t go more than ten days without seeing my kids this time around.
But the first season was tough because I went sometimes 16 days without seeing my kids, which was really difficult on me. You can see that in the first season, as I gained a lot of weight in the first season, as the season progressed. I think because of a little bit of depression being away from my family and having to do both, work and try to be a full-time mom.
I’m really lucky and blessed that I have a wonderful husband who also has a career like mine where he can do his music at home or at his studio and have time to be at the kids’ hockey games or bath time. He makes them breakfast every day. He’s very hands on and I’m really lucky. Without him I couldn’t do it.
We also have a great nanny who is always with the kids. So I know we have someone we can count to sort of fill my shoes a little bit when I’m gone. But it is—it’s a constant, everyday battle of what’s the schedule? Who can get whom for which activity?
But I made sure that this year I was home—my son left for kindergarten and the show gave me the week off to be with him for his first week of kindergarten. So I try to schedule in important dates like that and be around for them for those things.
But it’s nice. My boys are very well adjusted, luckily, and they don’t have a problem with me leaving. They don’t like it, but they’ve really adjusted well to it and their teachers have all kept a close on them to make sure that—if they have any issues, we’ll all move back to California if we have to. But I really like that they’re here sleeping in their beds with their friends and neighbors and school teachers and having a normal life.
And so I come home—I’m home this whole year. Especially because I’m pregnant now we can’t go back to work on the show anytime soon. So I get 2012 to just be a mom. So I’m really blessed in a way that I get to be a full-time actress and a full-time mom. Where this fall basically I was an actress and now I’m a full-time mom.
And like I said, without my husband here all fall I couldn’t have done it. I couldn’t have gone back and forth. I would’ve had to bring my kids with me and enrolled them in school out there and tried to figure out our lives out there, but I was lucky enough to leave them here at home.