Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview: Melora Hardin on You and All the Way to Mars

Melora Hardin (photo credit: Kirstin Knufmann) has come a long way from ABC Afterschool Specials and the nighttime dramas Once and Again and Judging Amy. This singer/dancer/actress extraordinaire has released a new movie called You, which she stars in and directed. It also was written by and co-stars her husband, Gildart Jackson. You truly is a family affair, as the movie also features her mom, Diane Hardin, and her dad, Jerry Hardin, as well as her children and many friends of the family — who also happen to be famous actors (Brenda Strong, Joely Fisher and Amy Pietz).

Oh, and she just released her first full-length album, All the Way to Mars. I caught up with this busy woman recently to discuss her latest projects.

Celebrity Extra: How did the idea for You come about?

Melora Hardin: My husband wrote the screenplay. We had had that real moment in the beginning of the movie where I was nursing my daughter and planning what I was going to say at her wedding. That really happened when we had our first daughter. Gildart then had to go out of town for an acting gig and, as he would say, he “cragged” the script out in a few days. It was one of those wonderful real-life moments that inspired a whole screenplay.

CE: You are fortunate to have so many talented friends and family members to call upon to help bring this movie to life for you.

MH: Absolutely — I really am fortunate. It was definitely a family adventure. Having our kids in it and our friends, it really was quite a fun journey to take together. We used our own home for a lot of it, and we had our production offices here. We were wearing a lot of different hats at all times. It was both really exhausting and very fulfilling.

CE: Paula Cole is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. How long have you two been friends, and was she anxious to help with the film?

MH: We’ve been friends for about nine years. We met when we were both pregnant with our first children. We hit it off right away, and have been really close ever since. I told her I was making the movie, and she was really excited and totally behind it all the way. She was really happy for me. So I asked her to write the title song for me. She sings it in the movie, and I recorded a version of it for my record.

CE: What do you hope people take away from the movie after watching it?

MH: It’s a really moving movie, very life-affirming. I think it speaks to familial connection and really appreciating the time you have with your family. I am just really proud of the movie.

CE: Now tell me about your new CD, All the Way to Mars. What made you decide to cut an album?

MH: I am really proud of the record. It’s been a really amazing experience making the record. I met Richard Alexander, my producer, a few years ago, and we really clicked. He liked my original songs and really liked my voice, and I thought he was a lot of fun and gifted and talented. He had just directed Barbra Streisand’s European tour, and he’s worked with Bernadette Peters and Bette Midler and Johnny Mathis. He has an incredible breadth of experience behind him. I was honored that he thought I was great, because I think he’s pretty great.

For the past few years I’ve been singing every day and writing, and we realized we needed to get into the studio and make a record.

CE: I think a lot of your fans who know you from your acting work like The Office and Monk will be surprised when they hear that you are such a great singer, too.

MH: Most people don’t know that I can sing, so it’s exciting to be able to let people in on it. I am absolutely floored by how much people love the album — the feedback has been tremendously supportive. You don’t hear many real, grounded female-vocal records like this nowadays; it’s simply produced, not overproduced.

CE: Speaking of The Office, please tell me Jan Levinson will be popping up again soon!

MH: She is coming back. I had lunch recently with Greg Daniels, the executive producer of The Office, and we tossed some ideas around. We just haven’t landed on the what/when/why of her return, but it will happen. I miss Jan, so we will make this happen.

Melora’s film, “You,” and new album, “All the Way to Mars,” are available online and wherever DVDs and CDs are sold.

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