LOS ANGELES – It’s been decades since she played Clarissa on TV, but Melissa Joan Hart still seems willing to be candid and explain it all.
The former Nickelodeon darling, who went from “Clarissa Explains It All” to star in ABC’s “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey” before becoming a Christmas TV-movie star, has a new family-friendly Netflix mystery series “No Good Nick.” out Friday.
This time, she’s playing the buttoned-up mom instead of the girl next door. But in person, Hart calls to mind the sarcastic and funny Clarissa, as she explains how to age gracefully, how her kids are confused by her onscreen loves and how she became Clarissa in the first place. .
Melissa Joan Hart, center, plays a chef who runs her own restaurant on "No Good Nick." In real life, Hart can't cook. (Photo: Netflix)
Hart explains chest wrinkles
She urges using anti-wrinkle cream. “Sunscreen and moisturizer always. And do not sleep on your side. That’s what I’m fighting now, the chest wrinkles… and the ‘tech neck,'” wrinkles caused by looking down at your cellphone.
Melissa Joan Hart says her "Melissa & Joey" co-star Joey Lawrence long preached the importance of a skincare routine. (Photo: Bruce Birmelin, ABC Family)
“Melissa & Joey” co-star Joey Lawrence “always warned me: Don’t move your face too much, you’ll wrinkle. I was like, ‘Who cares?’ Now, I’m like, ‘I care.’”
The concern could stem from the fact that many of Hart’s fans still envision her as a precocious teenager. But she’s a mom of three now, and turns 43 on April 18.
“I’m a very different type than the Angelina Jolies, Charlize Therons, who are the same age as me, but have looked older since they were younger (and) will probably look younger when they’re older. I’m going to be a little girl ‘til I’m an old lady. I get it.”
Sean Astin and Melissa Joan Hart play husband and wife in "No Good Nick." (Photo: Netflix)
She explains TV boyfriends
In “No Good Nick,” Hart’s type-A chef Liz is married to laidback Ed (Sean Astin), who takes in a teenage grifter Nick. Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Stranger Things”) is one of Hart’s many onscreen loves.
“My 6-year-old has a hard time with the men that I’m with (on TV). I did a Christmas movie (‘Nutty Christmas’) this fall with Barry Watson,” says Hart. “The guy I’m dating in it is named Mark. He breaks up with me. My son for weeks was like, ‘I hate that Mark guy. He was so mean to you.’ He was so hurt by this guy dumping me.”
Explaining new TV boyfriends and families is even more confusing when Watson also played Hart’s brother in a different movie, “The Santa Con.’
“My kids go to school sometimes (and say): ‘My mom has two husbands!’” laughs Hart.
Last month, Hart showed an episode of “Sabrina,” which aired from 1996-2003, to her kids Tucker, 6, Braydon, 11 and Mason,13, ” for the first time. Adding to their confusion: Hart’s husband, musician Mark Wilkerson, had a cameo.
She explains how she became Clarissa
Hart tried to rewatch “Clarissa,” which aired from 1991-94, but she can’t view the sitcom without getting transported to the stressful period in of her life, when she had so much schoolwork and she was missing her New York-based family while filming in Orlando. “I had a really hard time,” she says.
But the actress fondly reminisces about getting the part of confident and edgy Clarissa Darling. She only auditioned for the role after (as she remembers it) a producer’s friend saw her deliver a monologue in an off-Broadway play about getting her period.
Melissa Joan Hart landed the lead in "Clarissa Explains It All," even though producers weren't planning to hire a blonde actress. (Photo: MTV NETWORKS)
Would Hart return to the role? She’s not ruling it out. Nickelodeon flirted with a remake but a management change cooled its interest.
If the revival eventually happens, there will be one major change in the way Hart looks in the role (aside from being 25 years older): She’ll have a full set of teeth.
As a young TV star, Hart lost a baby tooth but the adult tooth never grew in. Producers liked the gap.
“They thought it kept me young, and said, ‘Please don’t fix it!'”
But when “Clarissa” wrapped, Hart finally got the dental bridge she long desired.
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