Melora Hardin – From The Office To Les Mis

On the hit TV show The Office, Melora Hardin wants to fool you.  Her character, the quirky, crazy, and emotional Jan, although anything but one-dimensional, doesn’t exactly give off the vibe that she’s multi-talented.  You’re always wondering about her, and what’s going on in her life.  She’s more of the identity-crisis type, always looking for answers after getting dumped or fired.  And life for Jan seems anything but easy — she often stumbles to find love, attracts odd situations, is always on the bad end of the running “that’s what she said” jokes, and hell, she even dances funny.  Real funny. She’s Jan, and you love her for that.  Take her character away from The Office, and you’ve got problems.

This is all because the real-life Melora Hardin gets it.  She knows relationships, how to build them, how to use her talents to make them seem real and wildly entertaining.  She’s always been ready for the “big time,” and now, she’s thriving in its glory.
But the road wasn’t always paved for her stardom to shine so easily. In 1985, she was supposed to play Marty McFly’s girlfriend in Back to The Future, only when her co-star, Eric Stolz, was let go and Michael J. Fox entered the picture, there was a problem:  Hardin was too tall for Fox, and she was done. Seems like something that would only happen to Jan, right?

Maybe, but that unfortunate happening didn’t turn out to be curtains for Hardin’s career.  Like I said earlier, Hardin gets it.  She’s not just an actor, or singer, or dancer – and she knows this; she’s a versatile entertainer.  Sure, she can master all of the above, but she’s more focused than others, more capable of knocking out her dreams and making them realities.  One by one, that’s how Melora Hardin does it.

And there’s no fooling around the way Jan would have you thinking – Hardin’s career is on roll.  After a role in the successful 27 Dresses, she’s now currently filming Hannah Montana: The Movie, due out in 2009.  An accomplished singer and songwriter with two CDs that you can buy on her website, Hardin also starred in At the Water Cooler, a one-woman show that took place at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles last January.  Her sexy performances won over crowds and further identified her as a growing talent on the stage.

But the biggest nugget has to be what’s just around the corner:  Hardin’s role as Fantine in Les Misérables.  You’ll find her at the Hollywood Bowl, August 8, 9, and 10, singing and living out her dreams.   I’m sure it can’t come fast enough for her.

Interviewing Melora Hardin was also a treat, particularly because she was laughing half the time; she seemed to be in complete satisfaction with her future. In Part 1 of Glide’s interview, Hardin talks about her upcoming role in Les Misérables, her singing and songwriting career, and her latest films.

So what an exciting time for you.  Would you say your inclusion in Les Misérables is a dream come true?

Oh yeah, absolutely.  It’s really an incredible dream come true.  I first saw Les Mis on Broadway in…I don’t remember when it was, maybe 1985 or 1986, and I sat on the edge of my seat and just…I just cried and I thought, ‘I want to do that, I want to be up there doing that!’ It really is (a dream); I’ve been singing those songs all my life, and ever since I saw that I’ve been so inspired by it. And now, once, ‘I dreamed a dream,’ and now my dream comes true.

What was your reaction when you first heard the news that this was indeed going to happen?

I just jumped up and down and screamed, ‘Oh my God!’ (laughing)  Just screaming and very happy!

Do most of your fans know about your talents outside of The Office?

Yeah, I think singing has been probably (common knowledge) for the real devoted fans.  I have sold over 2,000 CDs on my website, so I guess there’s a few people out there who know I am a singer! (laughs)  And I also did a singing cameo in The Rocketeer, and both of those songs are on the soundtrack – and that’s a really amazing soundtrack by James Horner.  I sang two beautiful old, classic songs, “Begin the Beguine” and “When Your Lover Has Gone,” so a lot of people discovered me as a singer then.  I’ve also sung in a couple other things — in a movie called Papa Was a Preacher, and then I did a guest starring thing on Mann & Machine.  So there are people who do know I sing; I just don’t know if they know to this caliber or this extent.

Is it hard for you to switch back and forth between acting and singing?

No, you know, I sort of feel that I’m kind of the bumper sticker, ‘born to perform.’ I have been acting since I was 6, professionally, dancing since I was 5, singing since I can remember, and writing songs since I was 8. It’s all part of who I am and what I do.

Do you write a lot?

I do!  All the songs on my CD – on both of my CDs (Purr and Meloradrama) that I sell on my website – are songs that I have written.

Well that’s wonderful.  What’s the easiest process for you when you’re writing?  Do you like to be alone?

Yeah, I definitely like to be alone.  I like to write in my dressing room, too.  I also like to write on long driving trips, when I’m by myself.  I really like to write in my head, and I have a tape recorder that I keep with me, and sort of record my ideas and come home and finish it.

Now, there’s a movie called You that’s coming out.  Can you tell us a little more about that?

Well, that’s a movie that we made independently.  My husband wrote it, and I directed it, and we both star in it. We also co-produced it.

Wow, that’s a lot!

It’s a real passion project.  My parents are both actors, and they’re both in it.  Lots of friends…our kids are in it.  It’s a real family event, and it really was an amazing experience.  We’ve just finished editing it and are looking for distribution and trying to get someone to buy it! (laughs)  I just showed it to a few crew members in Tennessee, I was just there doing the Hannah Montana Movie and they were really moved and thought it was a really beautiful film.  So there’s been a few people that have seen it, obviously, so it’s nice to find that the audiences are really moved by it. 

Getting to that “final product” stage – is that a relief or more like a celebration?

I think there’s a little bit of all of that.  Maybe not a relief, really. I would say more that it’s exciting to get to the end of something, but it’s also kind of sad. You get a little bit of the blues as far as not having that process, because it’s a very intense process certainly making a movie, when you’re cutting a movie and you’re in a room every single day with the editor.  You shoot a movie and then you’re saying goodbye to the crew and cast, and then you’re basically in the room with the editor…and then you’re saying goodbye to the editor!  So everything is exciting to move on to that next stage and to get closer and closer to that finished product.  And then when you do, you feel fantastic and also feel…a little bit sad.  It’s kind of like a child – you’re sending it out into the world, and you hope it will be received well.

Was 27 Dresses a good experience for you? It did well.

It was. I really love James Marsden, such a sweet man.  All my stuff was with him, so I’m glad he was a good guy!

Any frustrating experiences you’ve had with someone on a set?

Well, there’s people who you like more than others. But it’s nice when you really like somebody, and you really connect and create a friendship.  But it doesn’t always happen like that.  A lot of times you’re working with people that, you know, you’re fine, and you have a good professional relationship and work well together, but you’ll never see them again! (laughs)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Glide’s interview with Melora Hardin where she talks about Jan and the upcoming season of The Office…

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