We had the pleasure of chatting with Melissa Joan Hart about her upcoming project with ABC Family entitled My Fake Fiance which premieres 4/19/2009 at 8/7c. Here’s what Melissa had to say:
I was wondering, what made you want to be a part of the film?
M. Hart: I read the script and I wanted to make this movie, so we got the rights to the script, we met with the writer and the other producer and we acquired the rights. We brought it to ABC Family and they picked it up in a weekend.
What did you find the most challenging about your role?
M. Hart: Actually I just found it really fun, because I’ve never gotten to play a character quite like this. She’s a very gutsy strong female who thinks she can tell people by a glance, and she realizes pretty quickly that – well, actually not very quickly. She actually finds out over the course of the story that you can’t judge a book by its cover and she was just really fun to play, because it’s a character unlike any I’ve ever played. I kind of tend to play a little nicer, sweeter, more happy-go-lucky character, and this one for me was really exciting and different.
Was there instant chemistry when you started working with Joey Lawrence, or did it take a bit of time to develop?
M. Hart: Yes, I mean, Joey and I have known each other since we are four. We are a day apart. Our birthdays are this weekend. We have a lot in common, we’ve known each other a really long time. Our families are pretty well acquainted, and it was really – it was the first time we’ve worked together, though, and it was really nice, and right off the bat there was instant chemistry. That worked so much they’re considering doing a TV show version, and we’re exploring all sorts of things. Joey and I, I think, worked really well together.
ow, if Jennifer and Vince are only together to get free wedding gifts, what else happens along the course of the thing to keep it going?
M. Hart: I think what’s funny about it, it reminds me of the movie House Sitter, which was one of my favorite movies, with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and how they pretend to be in love, and it just gets them deeper and deeper in these lies. Of course, they start off thinking to themselves that they’re buying gifts for all these other people and when does it pay off for them, and they’re never going to get married so why would they – when are they going to get this money back to them; so they decide to pretend to get married so they can get what they want.
They’re just disenchanted with the whole idea of weddings and love and all that, and – it’s just two people that are feeling like they’re trying to get in there, where they’re over the whole romantic idea of it. So they decide to do it for practical purposes and in the course of the movie they actually grow to – at first they have stereotypes about each other and they stand by those, and then they slowly grow to learn about each other. I think anyone, when you develop a relationship, you either love or hate the person, and they grow to respect each other and they understand each other when they see the backgrounds, where they came from, what they like and don’t like, that sort of thing, and the kind of person that they really are. When they see each other for who they really are, they actually respect each other. So they become more than just business partners.
What’s it like to work with Steve Schirripa? Were there any fears of getting whacked?
M. Hart: No, he’s – I love the Italian men. They make me feel right at home because I feel like I’m back in New York. Working with him was kind of like – it felt warm and cozy.
Nice. Now, since Gil has experience working with ABC Family, what was he like as a director?
M. Hart: Gil is a guy who really knows funny, and he’ll let you know it. And he loves – he’s a real – he likes the collaboration and he loves rehearsal. So between Gil, myself and Joey, we were in a lot of rehearsals and we worked stuff out, and we worked on jokes and we worked on scenes. We worked on blocking and dialog, and – there’s a shorthand to people that work in television that’s really warm and refreshing, and we got to really explore that and just – I love the shorthand I have as a professional from television. It’s just so different than other acting types, and we were able to kind of just work through it and make it funny, and make it really warm and endearing at the same time.
Also I want to know, what’s it like to star and be an executive producer on the same project?
M. Hart: That’s what I’ve been doing most of my life, so it would be kind of hard for me to do it another way. When I work on other people’s movies and I’m just the actor, it’s kind of difficult, because – not knowing where you can put in your two cents. But when you’re the producer, they have to listen to you, so it’s nice.
Real life, what would you pick, gifts or cash?
M. Hart: Ah – hmm. I’d go with cash. You can use it for more practical purposes than just a toaster.
Did you have any input on the wardrobe for My Fake FiancÃ©?
M. Hart: Oh, yes. I was really lucky to work with Mona May on the wardrobes. The three cast members that came from Los Angeles got to work with Mona May and she is incredible. I don’t know if you guys know her resume, from Clueless to House Bunny, Enchanted. She’s done amazing stuff, so I totally trusted her with my life as far as wardrobe went, and she – I was so happy with the wardrobe that ABC Family let me keep it, so it was really a nice little bonus there.
Is part of the challenge of the movie how Jennifer and Vince are going to afford the wedding while they wait to get the gifts and the money?
M. Hart: Yes, a little – yes. We definitely play into that a little, because it’s a – that’s a big problem. We get my parents – well, he coerces my parents into paying for it, and then we somehow get his father to help pay for it as well, so then we feel guilty about our families being involved in our scam.
You mentioned your parents help pay and everything. Who else do they try to convince that they’re in love and who do they actually include in telling the truth?
M. Hart: Nobody knows the truth. They’re both very – at the beginning of the movie they’re both kind of loners and they’re both a little hardened by life and – they’re both in their early thirties and – or 30 – and they both are just disheartened with love and romance and all that. So they kind of – they both act tough on the exterior, and actually they don’t need anyone, or they think they don’t need anyone. And then they meet each other and they start to respect each other and like each other a little bit more.
When you’re filming, how do you manage juggling your family life with your working life?
M. Hart: We’ve got a good system down now. I worked quite a bit last year, but it’s always out of town, so – it’s always kind of living in hotels, which is actually kind of – it’s nice to be on location with my family because then there’s only two focuses: whatever job I’m working on, and my family. There’s no outside – I don’t have to worry about feeding my dogs or taking care of the house or opening the mail, because I’m staying in a hotel, so it’s like – it’s been really nice, because we have a wonderful nanny who goes with us. We hired her last year when we had Braydon. She went with us to Louisiana and Atlanta and everywhere we went last year and it’s nice because she or Mark or whoever is there that day will bring the boys to see me at lunch.
And because of the schedule of acting, you’re not always onâ€”it’s not a 9:00 to 5:00. Sometimes it’s a 6:00 to 6:00, or – in which case I get to go home in time for dinner and bath time, or maybe I have a late call and I don’t go in until noon and I get to have breakfast with my family and maybe – like when we were in Atlanta, we went to the aquarium a lot. It was really fun because the aquarium in Atlanta was unbelievable, and my son became obsessed with whale sharks and other sharks and anything in the aquarium. And I got to go diving with the whale sharks and my son got to watch me in the tank in my scuba gear as I went diving with the sharks, so it was really cool.
While filming the movie, were there any funny or embarrassing moments that we should know about?
M. Hart: Oh, gosh. I can tell you we were all tortured – of course you think Atlanta in September is not so bad, September/ October, but once you put me in that wedding dress, the temperature just dropped to like 40. And every woman in the background, you could probably watch them shivering, as the men are all nice and warm in their suits.
It’s funny, because Joey – I’m such like a tough girl, and he was being all wimpy about the cold. He’s like, “It’s so cold.” And I’m like, “I am half naked here, and you’re in a suit. Chill out, dude.” You know, just funny. We got into some spats. Joey and I have known each other for so long, and we just had – we just had fun. We’re like brother and sister. We just had some – had some fun together. Especially with the other cast members.
Diane Neal is one of the – Diane Neal is one of my closest friends and she is just freaking hilarious. I think Robin Williams has called her the funniest woman on earth before. She is just so witty and – she’s brilliant. She’s absolutely brilliant. But she’s also got this dirty sense of humor and she just kept us all like – and the scenes when it’s all the family, like at the wedding or at the rehearsal dinner, all those scenes – between her and the guy Chip who plays her husband and myself and Joey, we were just all cut up every scene. Like it was really hard to do the emotional scenes because we were all laughing so hard. Just telling jokes and just being silly, and she was just so dirty and – constant sex jokes, really.
As far as Sabrina, do you still keep in contact with any of your cast members from Sabrina and all the years of that show?
M. Hart: I do. I’m still friends with – well, I would still be friends with all of them. We’ve all kind of gone off and had – our lives took us in different directions, really. Soleil and I probably keep in touch the most because we have kids the same age and we still live in the same places. A lot of the cast members, like Caroline and Beth, they moved around a lot. Like, they moved to New York and I feel like – at least one of them I think is back in L.A., or – Caroline I feel like moved back and forth and back and forth. And Caroline had a baby and I was invited to the shower but I couldn’t go, and – we all kind of e-mail here and there, but Beth became very involved in politics, and her view on politics is very different from mine, so- we’ve grown apart over the last five years. We were really close when we were shooting the show, of course.
But I’ve kept in touch more with the crew. My wardrobe dresser is one of my best, best, best – I would call her my very best friend. She is Brady’s god-mom and her husband is godfather, and their son is Mason’s best friend. And my makeup artist went off to receive numerous nominations for Emmys and did Nip/Tuck and is now on the new show Glee that’s coming out that’s going to be amazing. She went off to do huge movies like Running With Scissors. She’s still one of my closest, closest friends. So the crew and I, a few of the grips, we all still hang out. It’s just, the cast kind of grew apart and went off to do their own things.
What was your inspiration to start acting?
M. Hart: Shirley Temple, I think. Also the Romper Room; I wanted to be on the show Romper Room, and the teacher would say your name in the magic mirror, but I realized she never said Melissa. It wasn’t a very popular name back then, and – I’ve put together the formula that if I was on the show, that she would say my name, that it was always the kids that were on the show she would say their names in the magic mirror, so I had to get on the show if I wanted her to say my name. So I told my mom, I have to be on TV, and she happened to know someone whose kids were in the business, and started taking me to New York City on auditions, and I booked my first, third and fifth audition. And that’s right around when I met Joey.
If you could remake any movie or TV show, what would it be, and who would you play?
M. Hart: I think it would be House Sitter and I’d be Goldie Hawn.
I know that you’ve directed before. Have you ever been interested in writing for a show?
M. Hart: I’ve been thinking about it. I don’t think I’m a very good writer. It would really take a lot for me to do it. But I just have all these ideas in my head that I want to get down and see if they work out. So I am actually starting to explore that, although I’m not very disciplined – I’m not disciplined enough to do it, so – I’m trying to be.
Are you interested in doing a series again, like a regular –
M. Hart: Yes, we’re actually flirting with ABC Family about that, possibly.
Do you have any other projects coming up soon?
M. Hart: I’m actually opening an ice cream, candy – actually it’s a frozen yogurt, candy shop in Los Angeles, in Sherman Oaks, in four weeks, called Sweet Harts – of course spelled “Hart” like my last name – and it’s going to be a self-serve frozen yogurt. There will be some self-serve ice cream. We’re having gelato and baked goods and candy – I’m in charge of the candy shelves right now. We finished the design of it and it’s gorgeous. It’s done by a girl named Lonnie Paul who is right now going to be on the show Design Star. She did the interior of the shop and it’s going to be a beautiful kind of modern take of a baroque style – like an old-fashioned candy store, but bright and clean. It’s going to be gorgeous and it’s going to be really yummy and just someplace for people to come that just want dessert.
I feel like there’s not a lot of desserteries. There’s a lot of places that specialize, like Pinkberry has their one flavor of yogurt, there’s places like that, but I feel like there’s not – and Baskin-Robbins and stuff like that, but there’s not a place that has sort of every kind of dessert you’d want, and we’re trying to do that. We’re trying to give people a place to reward their kids for their straight A’s or ride their bikes with the family to have dessert. We hope, if this one works out well, we’ll start a little chain.
Do you have, though, any roles coming up that we should watch out for?
M. Hart: I did a movie called Nine Dead, shot it in Louisiana. It was my mom, our company, HartBreak Films’ first feature film. That just got completed and now we’re looking for distribution, so hopefully we’ll get some distribution for that and it will be on the screen sometime this year. But you never know with these things, so it’s a waiting game.
Interview By: Emma Loggins
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