Interview with Joey Lawrence of "Melissa & Joey" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Joey Lawrence

Interview with Joey Lawrence of "Melissa & Joey" on ABC Family 6/27/11.

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Joey LawrenceĖ Melissa & Joey

Moderator What is it about the show that you think keeps people tuning in to Melissa & Joey?

J. Lawrence Well, I donít knowówe just tried to come up with a half-hour comedy that people could relate to, about two young people that are just trying to make life work under unique circumstances and I think that, sort of, basing it in a time of relevance as to what people are going through as of today. We just try to make it lighthearted and funny and let people kind of tune in and escape for a half hour and kick back and laugh. Hopefully if we keep doing our job, people will keep tuning in.

Moderator Youíve had quite the life Ė have you ever thought of writing a memoir?

J. Lawrence You know, thatís something that I would love to do like in my eighties, if Iím lucky enough to get there.

Moderator How do you think the relationship between Melissa and Joey has evolved since episode one?

J. Lawrence Well I think that where we find them now is that theyíre sort of getting into a groove of living together and kind of working together in this cohabitating type of relationship that they have. I think that theyíve developed a real affinity toward each other. There may be a little sexual tension there but I think that they both try to deny that and fight that. I think that that sort of underlying sexual tension is sort of what keeps the show going. Hopefully weíll have an opportunity to further explore that and see how things progress.

Moderator I was reading in a future episode you speak Japanese. How much did you really know and how much was memorized?

J. Lawrence Well I knew none but I had to learn a lot Ė in about four days. You know, I got to a point whereóyou know, I mean I guess my teacher said that I picked up the inflection of the language very well, actually, which is hard to do because Japanese is pretty specific; itís nothing likeóit isnít like speaking Spanish or anything like that. Itís very unique unto itself, and itís quite difficult to do, but I had like full scenes with four, five pages of dialogue in Japanese, so it took a lot of studying and listening to tapes over the course of three or four days in order to get that.

Moderator Melissa mentioned in a recent call that you each did one shout-out, I guess you could say, to your former characters and shows. She said yours was one word - that was her phrasing. So, of course, any fan of yours knows what it will be. Is that something you still get asked to do a lot by fans? Like for me any time I hear it from anyone, your face and voice are the ones that come to mind.

J. Lawrence Right. Yes, you know Ė I do, and itís something that I actually look back on fondly, you know? It was a great period of time in my life and I get asked every single day. I mean itís pretty amazing when you do something like that and it just transcends time and generations Ė and we did it as a joke. I mean it was one night, the line that they had written wasnít working and they told me to kind of make up something in place of it to hopefully get a laugh, and I donít know where that came from. I just came up with it and theyóthe audience laughed their rear ends off and all of a sudden, like overnight, it just exploded. Itís kind of crazy.

Moderator Yes, and itís been so many years now that everybody knows. Everybody still knows it and knows you.

J. Lawrence I know. I know. I had not said it on network television in aboutówell since í97, so 13 years, and there was an opportunity in the script where it sort of made sense without doing itóthe character doesnít do it on purpose like that, it just sort of comes out of just a reaction.

Moderator Right.

J. Lawrence And it just made sense, so I did it and of course you know thatís the one they use in all the promos and stuff because ABCís not stupid. But yes, itísóyou know, look Ė I think that things that we do in our past that are successful are the reasons why we are where we are today, so to sayóyou know I donít ever get these people that do things that are successful, and then when they go on and do better things they donít want to talk about the things that got them to where they are. That seems sort of crazy to me. So, for me it was a fun, amazing time of my life and I have no problem that people still want to talk about it. Itís kind of cool.

Moderator Well, thatís great. My follow-up isnít really a question but more of a statement. I have a 13-year-old son, so he wasnít alive, of course, when I was watching Blossom, but itís nice to be able to sit down with him and have him see you in this role because itís a show that the whole family can watch, and I just absolutely love that. I think itís great.

J. Lawrence Oh, cool! Well thank you very much. Thatís kind of what we wanted to do. We sort of set out to make something that obviously is for the adults. I mean, the humor is for the adults; itís not for the kids. But itís something that your kidsóif theyíre in the room or they want to tune in as well itís not going to be crazy offensive or anything thatís completely inappropriate for them to watch. And that was sort of the goal of kind of what we wanted to do, kind of bring back that, just have a romantic comedy that doesnít offend, just kind of fun.

Moderator So word has it that your brothers, Matt and Andy, will be making an appearance in this upcoming season. How was it to work, again, with them?

J. Lawrence They will. It was great. It was something that we wanted to do, that I purposely wanted to do. Weíve been getting a lot of Twitter response and stuff saying, ďYou gotta have your brothers on. You gotta have your brothers on.Ē So itís definitely something that we wanted to do and we found kind of a unique way, an interesting way, to sort of bring them both into the show in different episodes, and I think it worked out great. So Iím very excited about it.

Moderator Youíve been involved in a ton of different projects over the years. What would you say youíve learned and taken away from this show, in particular?

J. Lawrence Every project you do is an opportunity for growth. I think that you should get better with every project that you do, and thatís something that I try to do. This project, Iím wearing a couple of different hats as executive producer and stuff. I was able to write the theme song for it, which was kind of cool. Because I got a brand new record coming out this summer as well, and actually my first single will be available on ABC Family.com June 29th, this Wednesday exclusively just for a week. Iím going to give it away to all the fans that want to download it. And itíll be up on iTunes and everywhere else for the rest of the world July 6th.

But I think it just gives an opportunity to just kind of wear a bunch of different hats and continue improving, which is what we need to do as actors. I mean every job that we do we should get better. Thatís kind of what itís all about.

Moderator In just about every episode you are cooking a good meal in the kitchen. Do you think itís important to portray healthy eating on TV?

J. Lawrence Well sure. Iím a big fan of healthy eating. I make sure that my daughters eat healthy. You know I think that itís not hard to cook healthy. Not that kids shouldnít have Mickey Dís every now and then, and ice cream, andóyou know theyíre kids. And you know what, Iím guilty of having those things as well every now and then, but I think the majority of the time, sure weíve got to try to eat good. Thatís what itís all about. I make it a point on the show for Joe to be cooking good food, not for it to be fast food or anything like that, and so far, so good.

Moderator Melissa was saying that you really have an interest in cooking, that you donít just kind of play with the props but you kind of plan it out. Can you tell me more about that?

J. Lawrence Well I love to cook, personally. It allows me the opportunity to sort of talk to the food chefs about it and we make sure that we always prepare something that sounds real tasty.

Moderator Well itís fun to watch and definitely tempts us all to get cooking.

J. Lawrence Sweet. It is tooóI mean it actually tastes good too because we have these chefs that come in and really cook the food, and then I just prepare it in the scene, but it smells great. It smells great, soó

Moderator Megan Hilty plays your ex-wife, and both of you are talented musicians. Can we expect any collaboration in the future?

J. Lawrence Well I donít know about that, but Iíve got a brand new record coming out in August and my first single in 11 years that I co-wrote with Matthew Gerrard, whoís a big time music pop guy; worked with everybody from Justin Timberlake to Kelly Clarkson. He and I collaborated on my whole record. And the first single will be available exclusively on ABC Family.com for the first week, and then it will be up everywhere on iTunes and TuneCore and all that stuff for the rest of the world. But music is something that Iíve always loved. I know that she does too. You never know about a collaboration, but certainly for me Iím really excited about getting a single out there for the first time in a long time, and also to have my full record coming out in August. And I hope people like it. Itís going to be great.

Moderator Do you have a guilty pleasure favorite TV show that you wouldnít mind telling us about?

J. Lawrence A guilty pleasure? Well I donít know if itís guilty. I mean Iím a big fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm Ė I love that show and Iím so excited for the new season to get started. I donít really have any guilty pleasures. Every now and thenóyou know my wife is obsessed with the Kardashian stuff so thatís on TV and I have to sit through it every now and then. But no, for me itís like Curb Your Enthusiasm and then news and then sports, you know? Thatís about it.

Moderator How do you manage to stay so grounded and positive while being a child actor?

J. Lawrence Well you know, Iíve got a great life. Look, Iíve had to work my rear end off for everything that Iíve ever gotten, but for me itís always been about the work and about continuing to be able to work and continuing to be able to do what I love in an industry that thatís sometimes very difficult to do. So I am excited just about the opportunity to continue to do what I love to do. Thatís really what itís all about and hopefully Iíll be able to do it for many, many more years, you know?

Moderator Now that you do have daughters are you considering doing more Disney movies?

J. Lawrence Weíre actually talking the animated side of things - the feature side and the animation department, trying to see what makes sense. But, sure Ė I mean Disneyís a great company to work for and there are several opportunities there that weíre kind of talking about. But doing something that my little girls can go see would be great, you know? Actually, I did one of the very first animated movies that Disney did back in this new generation, back in í89, when Katzenberg first took over; it was called Oliver & Company and I was the voice of Oliver. But thatís really the last thing that Iíve done on the feature side for them. We just had a big meeting about hopefully changing that soon.

Moderator Sounds wonderful, and I remember that movie.

Moderator What was it about this character that made you want to take on the role?

J. Lawrence Well it was a character that I sort of came up with. This is sort of a guy that I wanted to play on TV, in the half hour comedy world anyway. Heís sort of a guyís guy. I think he can be brutally honest at times, but I sort of loved that about him. He shouldnít be able to get away with some of the things that he says, but he does because thereís nothing under it other than just him being straightforward and honest. And thatís a guy that you sort of want to hate, but you canít help but like him, you know? I mean he really is the kind of guy that if Ö came up to him and said, ďDoes this dress make me look fat?Ē He would probably say, ďWell it doesnít make you look thin.Ē You know? And initially youíd go, Oh my God, that was so rude! But at the end of the day you go, itís kind of refreshing that he was being honest. He wasnít being mean. He was like, look, youíre an attractive lady and Iíve seen you wear things that look hotter on you. Youíd almost kind of want that, weirdly enough. Instead of stuff like, ďOh no, baby. You look amazing. You look incredible. Everything you wear is incredible.Ē You know?

Moderator Yes.
J. Lawrence I love the fact that heís a financial wizard and that heís sort of a fiscally conservative guy. This is a character that doesnít exist on TV and itís sort of fun for me to portray him a little bit. Heís a little Bruce Willis; heís a little Alex P. Keaton; heís a littleóheís like all those things, and that guy isnít really on TV right now and thatís kind of why I sort of wanted to play him.

Moderator What are any similarities or differences that you have with your character?

J. Lawrence Weíre both a little OCD. We both love to cook. Heís a big sports guy; so am I. Iím not a financial wizard but I enjoy making money, so we share that in common. There are things. I think as an actor you always try to bring as much personal experience to the role. Thatís kind of important.

Moderator Thatís great. Thank you. I canít wait to see the show.

J. Lawrence Oh yes, check it out. Also check out the new single, too, my first single coming out in like 12 years. Itíll be available on ABCFamily.com exclusively for the first week. Itís called ďRolledĒ and then itíll be up on iTunes, and then the whole record comes out in August. But itís really a great pop record so check it out, alright?

Moderator Iíve been a fan since Gimme a Break.

J. Lawrence Wow. Sweet.

Moderator What made you decide to grow your hair back?

J. Lawrence Yes, so that was it, honestly just I like to change it up every now and then. I had long hair, shaved it all off, worked a lot, and then after a while people wereóI got a lot of tweets about will I ever grow it back and stuff, and then I said, ďOh I can grow it back a little bit.Ē So, you know, I decided to grow it back. Itís as simple as that.

Moderator On your new album, are any of the songs dedicated to your little girls?

J. Lawrence You know, theyíre not, because itís not about that. I write them songs all the time and I perform at home and theyíre just for them Ö and thatís what itís about. I donít need to do that on a record. The record thing is kind of its own life. Honestly, the recordís for my fans because it was fan driven. The last year and half theyíve been tweeting me every day, all day long, about doing it and teamed up with Matthew Gerrard and we actually wrote the theme song to the show and from that developed this great relationship and we started to write, and tune after tune started turning out great and then he said, ďMan, youíve got to release this.Ē So thatís what weíre doing. The first singleís called ďRolledĒ and itís available exclusively at ABCFamily.com for a week; Iím going to give it away to everybody. And then itís up on iTunes after that and the whole record will be out in August, and weíre going to tour next year and itís going to be great. Iím really excited about it. Itís a really good record.

Moderator What was it like to work with Melissa Joan Hart again?

J. Lawrence Oh, it was great. It was great. You know we have a really good sort of working relationship and a rapport, and I think thatís sort of what got us excited about working together again, sort of in a larger capacity on a TV show. So, thatís what we did and we put together something and developed it, and it turned out great. We had a big vote of confidence from the network who picked us up for 30 episodes, which is, like unheard of in a first season, and here we are.

Moderator Since you like to cook, what is one of your favorite things to cook?

J. Lawrence What is one of my favorite things to cook? I cook a lot of Italian stuff, but Iím good at fish, too. But I do likeóI do a baked manicotti and the stuffed shells, and I do a vegetable lasagna. I do lemon Dijon chicken with sort of this risotto thatís really good. A lot of different stuff, you know?

Moderator Do you have a favorite scene in an upcoming episode that you might be able to tell us a little about?

J. Lawrence Favorite scene, well, Iíve got a couple of favorite scenes. Iíve got a great scene with my brother, Matthew, coming up that Iím excited about, where we get into this fight; itís really funny. Iíve got a great scene with Andrew coming up where we get into aóhe plays a teacher on the show and heís an incredible guitar player and a musician, but heís a teacher that my character does not like at all so we get into this heated conversation and he starts to play me this song that he wrote, and itís really funny. Iíve got a great scene with Melissa coming up where Joe gets an opportunity where he may or may not move out of the house, and they have this real kind of heart-to-heart moment, which is sort of neat. And another great scene I have is with Lennox coming up where sheís going to her first like overnight kind of sleepover-party type thing, and we have this real sort of like older brother moment with me and her in the car and itís just sort of one of those scenes that I really liked a lot.

Moderator Is there anyone who hasnít yet been scheduled that youíd really love to work with as a guest star on the show?

J. Lawrence Thereís been talk about us trying to get Danny DeVito on there, because his daughter, Lucy DeVito is one of our supporting cast, who does a fantastic job for us. So that would be awesome; Iím a huge fan of Danny DeVito. Who else? I donít know Ė the list is large. But Danny, I think, is probably at the top of it. I think itíd be a lot of fun to have him on.

Moderator Your character had a great business career until the rug was pulled out from him by the underhanded, the ďillegal dealings of one man.Ē That was his wording. Over the last few years, the country has had to deal with hard economic times, coupled with similar situations to Joe Longoís. Do you think that people being able to identify with your character in that respect is part of whatís making the show so successful?

J. Lawrence I think so. I mean thatís what we wanted to do is come up with somethingóget these characters into it in a timely fashion, somehow get them involved in the show, let them feel like these characters are sort of where everyone else is, because weíre all going through tough times. I mean thatís what itís all about. So yes, I think that thatís part of it, for sure. For sure I do. And that was sort of an on purpose type of thing that we wanted to do.

Moderator Twitter seems to be an important part of your relationship with your fans. Can you talk a little bit more about how you got into that and what your favorite parts are and all that?

J. Lawrence Well, you know itís just one of those things. Itís part of kind of what we do now, it truly is. Part of the landscape of being an entertainer is having that one-on-one sort of relationship with your fans, and youíve either got to get on the train or itís going to leave the station without you. So, weíve opened up a whole social media wing to the company, which is me, and itís been working out great. For instance, you know Iíve got my brand new single coming out for the first time in 11 years, itís called ďRolled,Ē it will be off my brand new record coming out in August, and weíre making it available exclusively at ABCFamily.com for the first week coming up here starting Wednesday and then itíll be up on iTunes and everywhere on July 6. I tweeted that; it was driven by the fans, every day thousands of tweets about the music, and I tweeted that itís coming out and literally my Twitter accountís beenóitís 1,200 an hour have been tweeting about this day and the countdown to it and how theyíre so excited about it. So right there is a perfect example of how you can reach them instantly, and thatís what itís all about Ė itís about getting the products to the fans to see if they like it, because thatís what we do this for.

Moderator Well I enjoy following you on Twitter and see you tweet all the time, and I think itís great. I love when actors do that; it just makes you seem like you really care about your fans, which I think is a great thing.

J. Lawrence You know, thatís really what itís all about. We work for them. Our commodity is us and we work for them and youíve got to have an understanding about that. The product that youíre selling is yourself, and the product that you want to sell, youíve got to get to them. And thatís the best way to get it to them. And if it wasnít for them, as clichť as it is, 30 years later I wouldnít be sitting here talking to you. It just would not happen.

Moderator We are going to have your new single, ďRolledĒ on our Website on Wednesday. So can you just tell us a little bit about the single, and how you came up with the song and the title and the lyrics and that?

J. Lawrence Yes. Itís sort of an expression that me and my friends used to throw around a lot in our mid-20ís, because honestly, I know itís tough toóbelieve me, itís tough find good guys that are out there, but itís also tough to find good ladies that are out there, too, especially in this town. And one of the things, especially if youíre a successful guy, itís sort of tough to figure out whether theyíre in it for the right reasons or whether theyíre in it because they think you can buy them a big house and a big diamond ring and the whole thing. So thereís an expression that we sort of came up with and itís called rolled and itís like, ďDude, did that girl just roll you?Ē Which means that basically she used you for what she needed to, and then as soon as there was a better offer or something, a more successful guy on the table, she dumped you like yesterdayís trash and you got rolled. Do you know what I mean?

So this thing took off for us and it became sort of this saying, so I wrote a song about that. And thatís kind of what the songís about. Itís about a guy that is into this girl that sort of rolled him, and all of his friends were telling him that thatís not what he should have done and he knows now that he should have listened but he couldnít help it because she was just so hot. And itís sort of a fun take on that, but itís sort of a mid-tempo pop tune and the whole record is sort of a feel good record. This oneís sort of one of the edgier songs, but I really love the way it turned out. Thatís why I wanted to lead with it.

Moderator Are you influenced by any other music genres and types? Or do you have any favorite songs?

J. Lawrence Well musically Iím influenced from everybody from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, George Michael, Prince, Dave Matthews. I have a very eclectic sort of music taste, but Iím a big fan of Michael, and Prince, and then George Michael. So itís definitely in that vein.

Moderator I saw the screener of the new episode and they used more of your theme song, which I love. I was wondering, whose decision was it to give it more air time?

J. Lawrence It was a network decision, but it was definitely something that I championed over there because I just didnít like the trend of these shows that had like three seconds of opening and then they went right into the show. It just felt weird to me, so I was championing hard for them to put it fullókind of opening title, sort of likeóyou know like they have on Friends or anything else, and finally they thought it would be a good idea, too. We had always had a full length version of the song, but they only were using like three seconds of it, so now I feel like at least people can hear a good 25-30 seconds of it. Itís actually a really good tune, itís got a bridge and everything to it. Itís actually whatósort of my relationship working with Matthew Gerrard, who I collaborated on that song with, is what led to my record sort of happening. And thatís why theyíre releasing the first single too on ABCFamily.com, exclusively this coming Wednesday; itís called ďRolledĒ Ė itís really good.

Moderator Well Iím really looking forward to it. I love your music.

J. Lawrence Oh, sweet. Well youíve definitely got to check this new tune out. The full record will be out in August and then weíre going to tour next year. But itís a really cool tune if you like pop music.

Moderator Are you considering coming out with a cookbook?

J. Lawrence I have not like really thought about that a lot but itís something that I certainly could do. And you know if the opportunity presents itself, I just might. It certainly is a passion of mine; thatís why I sort of made the character do it on the show. And Iím good at it, you know? People like my food, so I might. I might.

Moderator We saw Mark Ballas guest star earlier in the season. Are we going to see Edyta guest star at any point?

J. Lawrence I donít know about on the show. Edyta might be in one of my music videos, though. Weíre sort of working on that with her. But I donít know about the show. Maybe. But definitely in one of my music videos coming up, so thatíll be fun.

Moderator As part of the Disney Family, a voice actor, and a fan of the Disney parks, do you have a particular attraction that you and your family enjoy riding?

J. Lawrence Letís see, well, itís sort of hard to say because I like so many and for different reasons, but Pirates has always just been such a juggernaut for so many years. Itís a classic. It never disappoints. Iím sort of old school; I like the Peter Pan rides because thatís one of my favorite movies. I know itís like 30 seconds long, but I just love it. And then I sort of like what they did with Space Mountain, and I like Big Thunder Mountain for something a little bit quicker. So thereís different reasons why you like different attractions, you know? I could name the whole park for you but then itíd just be like, ďWell I like the whole park.Ē But itís a blast. I mean, I got married in Disney World.

Moderator Oh, wow. Thatís cool. Now having said that, obviously with your association with Oliver & Company and doing the voiceovers and such, if Disney were to redo an animated classic movie to a live action movie, is there a particular character that you could see yourself portraying?

J. Lawrence Thatís a good question. One of the ones that Iíd love to see them redo Ė I donít know whether thereíd really be a role in it for me unless I played like the mean knight that sort of took advantage of young Arthur, but that would be Sword and the Stone. I loved that movie. I loved that film. I think itís a great animated movie, with Merlin and the whole thing. Itís fantastic. But thereís the knight of the King or whateveróthe guy that young Arthur works for, heís sort of like, whatever he is, the Duke and his Knight, he just keeps calling him Wart. Heís a really, kind of mean character. And at the end of the movie when he becomes large and he becomes King and pulls the sword from the stone there, itóI donít know, itís just a great film. I think itíd lend itself to a fantastic live action movie.

Moderator Can you tell us about a time in your career where maybe things werenít progressing or maybe you were losing confidence, or maybe things were just slow, and what that was like?

J. Lawrence This whole career isóI mean being an entertainer is about up and down, thatís what the whole thingís about. So there are going to be tons of moments when things are not going the way you want. I mean Iím still not where I want to be, you know? I think after doing this for 30 years and being my age now itísóIím excited because I feel like the guys that I look up to like Bruce Willis and George Clooney, they didnít even get started really until they were 35. George Clooney got ER at 36, so this is really just the beginning; even though Iíve been doing this for 30 years. But feature film is where I want to go and those opportunities are starting to present themselves and itís kind of exciting.

But Iíve always been positive, because you sort asked a two part question there. But Iíve always been positive, always. Where thereís a will thereís a way. Thatís my motto. I donít take no for an answer because if there is three or four dead ends Iíll find the one road that gets me there. But thereís been a lot of ups and downs; thatís what itís all about so you better have real thick skin and try not to take anything personally, because you wonít get most of the things that you want to get. Itís about celebrating the 400 noís on that journey to find the one yes.

Moderator Do you do voices to your daughters?

J. Lawrence Sure. Sure, yes. I do a lot of the Sesame Street ones and Iím good at those. And I can certainly make any of the voices from the characters that they really like, so, yes, we have a lot of fun doing that stuff. As a matter of fact, I just took my daughter to see Cars 2 for the second time this weekend because sheís obsessed, and she was playing Holley Shiftwell and I was playing Finn McMissile who is Michael Caine; we were doing that all day yesterday. As a matter of fact, I had to wear all grey to be Finn and she had to wear all purple to be Holley - so there you have it.

Moderator Question about the set: Do your daughters play with Melissa Joan Hartís sons?

J. Lawrence They do every now and then, yes. When it makes sense they do.

Moderator Do they watch the show? Or do they watch any of your old work?

J. Lawrence Not really. I mean Charli does. Sheís starting to get into it a little bit. Sheís come to a couple tapings and she sits through it. Sheís an amazing little girl. But my 14-month-old, no; not yet.

J. Lawrence Tweet me at Joey Lawrence. Alright?

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