Interview with Elisa Donovan & David Lascher of "Melissa & Joey" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Elisa Donovan & David Lascher

Interview with Elisa Donovan & David Lascher of "Melissa & Lascher" on ABC Family 3/26/14


ABC Familyís Q&A with Elisa Donovan & David Lascher
Melissa and Joey

Moderator: How did you feel when you were approached about being a part of the show, and coming back to work with Melissa Joan Hart?

Elisa: I was just thrilled at the whole plan. At first I didnít know that David was going to be on the show, and then when I got the script, I just thought, this is just fantastic. Because thereís obviously such a history between all of us, and to come back and all work together as adults was just fantastic.

We used to talk about very different things, and now we talk about our kids and what schools theyíre going to go to. Itís just been a whole different experience, and it was wonderful. David and I have worked together a ton. The first show I ever did, the first sitcom I ever did was Blossom, and I donít think we crossed paths on that, but David was clearly on it. He was on it for far longer than I was. But, we have a lot of crossover, David and I.

David: And then Clueless we did together. Melissa and I have kept in touch and our families are close, and Elisa and I always keep in touch through text. When I got called to do the show, I was thrilled to be working with Melissa again, like old friends coming together. And then I saw that the role was to play Joeyís bitter divorced friend, who has nothing nice to say about married life, and how great his single life is again, and he wants to go out partying and looking for girls.

When Elisa showed up it was just a great reunion. It was so nice to work together again as grown-ups with a different perspective.

Moderator: Have you ever been approached to work on any other projects in the past together, as well?

Elisa: We havenít, have we? I donít think so.

David: No, not since Sabrina, no.

Elisa: RightóI get everything sort of crossed in my mind, because I forget that Sabrina and Clueless wereóI sort of forget which one came first. I think Sabrina was the last time.

David: Yes. They were both at Paramount, too, which makes it confusing.

Elisa: Right, exactly. The stages were almost opposite each other, so it all does kind of mesh together.

David: It was one long decade.

Moderator: What are some of your fond memories of working with Melissa on Melissa and Joey and Sabrina?

Elisa: Melissa is just a very rare breed of person that has been in the business since she was so young, and yet sheís been able to maintain such a sense of normality and kindness and genuineness about her, and a great spirit. But yet sheís a total pro.

I just enjoy working with her, and when we did Sabrina I felt more like her big sister, in a sense. I kind of felt like I was looking out for heróI mean, which is absurd, because Iím not that much older than her. But I felt sort of maternal towards her, and now weíre far more equals in terms of our families, and it just has been a really nice experience all around.

Iím not sure specifically what I would say, but thatís my general experience. So, itís always fun, and she really isósheís funny and easy and a pro, you really canít ask for much more than that.

David: I remember when we were on Sabrina, it was like a big family. Melissaís mom Paula was likeóbecause my familyís back Eastówas like a mother to us. And literally, her front door to her house was always open to me and my whole group of friends. I had friends that would go over there for game night when I wasnít even there.
Everyone would just be coming and going, and Melissa was always having people over, and so were me and my wife, and it was like a big family.

Elisa: Yes, they always had Christmas parties. It was very much like a big family, thatís really true. Very inclusive, and Melissa always had these Christmas parties for the girls which, sadly, David was not invited to. The manicures and the massages and the music and wine. It was just super fun, and you showed up in your pajamas. It was really fun.

David: And now we go to CPK with the kids.

Moderator: What do you both miss most about being on the show Sabrina?

Elisa: Itís funny as I look at it now, as Iím older. I think there was such a magicalóobviously, no pun intendedómagical quality to this show that is really rare. Iíve had people that have grown up now and tell me how much it meant to them, because it was so extraordinary in that way, and it gave them a sense of creativity and magic, really. And that part of it now, as a parent, I feel like, ďOh, I would love to be a part of that sort of a show againĒ where youíre contributing to young kidsí interest and excitement about television and creativity and storytelling.

Itís really fun to work with friends. When you work on a series like that for a while, you really do, as David said, become a family. And I miss that part of it, the everyday, being together and laughing, and we have gag reels from that show that are pretty hilarious, that I feel like should be one day aired somewhere. So, I think those are the things I miss.

David: Yes, I also really enjoyed being on a show that played to the younger teenage audience, because really they just enjoy it. Theyíre not cynical or jaded about it, the audience just loved the show, and I really loved watching the relationship between my character, Josh, and Sabrina develop from this friendship. I was her boss for my first season, and then watched it develop kind of naturally into a romance over two or three seasons.

Itís really a treat to do that kind of series work where it really spreads out over a number of years, and happens almost in real time. And also working with such close friends, it was just such a special thing.

Moderator: If you could guest star on any current show other than Melissa and Joey, what would be your pick?

Elisa: Oh, I would say Brooklyn Nine-Nine or The Mindy Project.

David: Well, I know itís not on the air anymore, but I just finished watching Breaking Bad, and I would love to do something on that dark, twisted type of show. And comedy-wise I would love to do Modern Family. I think that showís hilarious and really pushes the envelope.

Elisa: Oh, yes. Modern Family too, I agree. Oh, or also Nashville. I love Nashville. I canít sing, but I can really pretend to sing. I can lip-sync super, super well.

Moderator: Who has been your favorite character to play?

Elisa: Oh, goodness. I would say this character Gail Evans. I did a web series for NBC called In Gail We Trust, and she was a Midwestern insurance agent who basically was a therapist to all of these wacky people in this small town. I mean, she wasnít really a therapist, she was an insurance agent, but in selling the insurance she was kind of helping people guide their lives. I loved this character because I just based it on my mom.

So, all of my instinctsóand my mom is not from the Midwest, but she has this same very sunny, always positive, a little bit wacky, but very, very positive vibeóyou know, would go to any lengths to see the sunny side of things. So, it was not only really easy for me to play, it was very fun because I just thought of her.

David: Iíll say, too, one thatís very dramatic but was very meaningful to me was a movie I did for Starz and Encore called A Call to Remember, with Joe Montegna and Blythe Danner playing my parents who were holocaust survivors. It takes place in the Ď60s, and it was a true story, and I played the writer of the screenplay, and it was really about the pressure thatís put on second-generation kids of survivors, and how much pressure their parents put on them to make their lives meaningful. Just working with Joe Montegna and Blythe in such a serious subject matter was one of my highlights.

And then on a more mainstream note, being on Blossom, I got to play over a few years this really tough guy, this Italian guy named Vinny who only Blossom saw a softer side in him. So, I loved playing a tough guy who had a real soft spot for his girl.

Moderator: Can you give a brief description of your upcoming roles on Melissa and Joey?

Elisa: I play a woman who Davidís character and Joey meet in a bar. Joey is being the wing man for Davidís character. Then I wind up being the museum curator at an event that Melissa has to attend and speak to me at, and she discovers that the two of us have been in contact, and then youíll see what happens after that.

David: I play Charlie, who is Joeyís recently divorced friend, happily divorced friend, which was so much fun to play, because Joeyís in a committed relationship, and I am constantly talking about how great it is to be single again and find other women attractive again.

Moderator: What does it mean to you to continue to have such an impact on your fans throughout the years?

Elisa: I feel incredibly grateful and humbled by the whole thing, truly, because life moves on and we do all sorts of things. Your life gets bigger, and there are children and family and all of these things involved. Iím constantly amazed at the impact that the work that Iíve done has had on people. Because I donít walk around thinking ďIím so-and-so from such-and-such of a project,Ē I walk around thinking Iím myself, and then Iím approached dailyóI mean, this just happened yesterday, I was in the drug store with my daughter. And of course it usually happens when I have sweatpants on and my hair is up and Iíve got zit cream on my face or something.

But it happens all the time, and I think, wow, itís a really special thing that weíve been a part of things that have really shaped peopleísóI donít know about shaped their lives, but just kind of shaped part of their socialization and growing upóI feel itís really special. I feel like thereís an interesting responsibility to that, and itís really meaningful, and I love it. I always love when people come up and say hi, and I never feel bothered by that. So, itís special, I think.

David: Yes, I agree. It is a special thing to have been part of somebodyís childhood, and whatís really cool for me is that those audiences from the Ď90s are growing up as we are. So, more specifically, I have a film that Iíve written and directed that in April is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, which is a whole new endeavor for me, and then in June the Austin Television Festival is having a Hey Dude reunion, which is the first series I ever did on Nickelodeon, and the whole cast is coming back, and all the writers. Iíll be able to go to Austin and promote and tell all these fans of the show who are now in their 20s to look out for this more serious piece of work that Iíve done. Itís great to have those fans that you had when they were younger; they sort of grow up with you and your work. Itís not like they just go away. Itís a special thing to grow up with your fans that you had when you were younger. I really appreciate how awesome that is.

Moderator: Would you guys ever consider doing a formal reunion?

Elisa: Oh, sure. I would love to.

David: Yes.

Elisa: Itís always fun, and you grow up with your fans, then you all come across each other as adults and then you can find yourselves in similar situations. Itís just a really nice way for people also to see that actors are normal people too. That we have lives and we have challenges and we have successes and we have families and we have friendsóyou know, I just feel like that aspect of it is important, too.

Moderator: Were there any funny behind-the-scenes moments while filming this episode of Melissa and Joey?

David: I had my 11-year-old daughter there who was running around backstage, eating the craft service and hanging out. That was kind of special for me. And then just being with Joey and Melissaóyou know, Joey and I did Blossom for so long, and Melissa from Sabrina, it was almost like having two friends from two different parts of your life in one situation. It was just surreal, but really in a great way.

Elisa: Also, especially having Melissa directing, there was such a shorthand between us because weíve worked together for so long that it just makes it extra fun, and extra special.

And a funny thing, I think, between the two of themóthe two of them as people, Melissa and Joey, have both been in the business for so long, and itís almost like they have this brother-sister kind of relationship in real life. Itís sort of funny, because theyíre both such professionals and have been doing this for so long, and itís just fun to work with the two of them together.

Moderator: If you could pick anyone past or present to work with, who would it be and why?

Elisa: I always say Susan Sarandon. Iím just such a tremendous fan of hers. I just think she is so talented and so unusual, and has such depth and heart and humor, and I would love to play her daughter. I would love to play anything opposite her. And Gary Oldman. That seems so random, but Iíve always loved him, and I think heís super talented. Matt Damon, Iíd love to work with Matt Damon.

David: You know what, Iíve been really loving Alexander Payneís movies, you know Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska, and just been thinking a lot about his work lately. Iíd love, as an actor, to work with him. Heís got such a great voice as a storyteller and a director. And for an actor, Iíd love to work with George Clooney. He makes it look so easy.

Moderator: Elisa, how was it being more rivalries with Melissa, instead of her good friend, like on Sabrina?

Elisa: Well, it was a change. Like I said, first of all, just to be playing adults was really nice. And on Sabrina we were friends, but Morgan was a bit over the top. I would say she was a challenging person to be friends with.

So, in this case it was fun, because as youíll see in the episode, when we do cross paths in this way, we have an understanding with each other. Itís more that Joeyís the one that has to answer to the issues at hand. So that was fun, to not have to be catty about it, but actually to turn it on him, because heís the one who makes the mistake, really.

Moderator: What is it like filming in front of a live studio audience?

Elisa: Oh, itís so much fun! I adore it, I love it, because there is just an unmistakable energy that is in the room from the second that you walk on to set, and it just imbues you with so much energy. I love it. Itís like doing theater.

David: Yes, itís really exciting. The energyóitís a little nerve-racking. Itís a nervous energy, but it definitely keeps you awake and makes you bring your best A-game, and when you get a laugh from a live audience, thereís nothing like it. It brings it to another level. Itís exciting!

Moderator: How did your guest appearances on Melissa and Joey kind of get started?

Elisa: In my case, they called and asked if I was available to come and do an episode. I live out of town, so when I work I go down to LA, [itís usually] for periods of time. But at that particular moment I was at home in San Francisco.

So, they called and asked if I was available and interested, and I said, of course, and that was that. And then Melissa e-mailed me and I e-mailed her back, and we were like, ďYay, Iíll see you Wednesday!Ē

David: Yes, me too. I just got a call saying, ďAre you available to do the show?Ē And they sent over a script, and my first feeling was like, ďOh, ABC Family, this will be a great kidís show, my kids will love it.Ē And then I read the script and I was like, ďWow, this is edgy!Ē Thereís some edgy subject matters, and it was just really funny.

The scripts are so well written, and I was just thrilled to do it. Then I went back and did a couple more, and itís just been fun.

Moderator: Do you have any other projects coming up?

Elisa: I am doing a couple of web series at the moment. Iíve done the voice for Cheryl Sandburgís best-selling book, Lean In. It came out last year, and they are releasing another book April 8, that is specifically geared toward graduates, Lean In for Graduates. So, that is available then.

David: Iím just finishing my first film that I wrote and directed, called Sister, thatís premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25, with Barbara Hershey and Reid Scott and John Heard. So, Iím really excited about that!

Moderator: How did the Hey Dude reunion come about?

David: This girl Caitlin from Austin Television Festival called me and said that Graham Yost, who was our head writer, was helping her put together a Hey Dude reunion. I guess they do a reunion every year of an older show, and she said that everyone in the cast is coming back, and itís going to be on June 5 at the Austin Television Festival. So Iím excited!

Moderator: [Elisa] How does it make you feel to know that you are such a role model to young ladies?

Elisa: Oh, thank you so much! I really feel like itís not only my responsibility, but itís really my pleasure to share my experience with girls, because I feel incredibly lucky that I have overcome the challenges that I have in my life, and I feel like itís just vital for young girls to understand that their individuality and their brain and their spirit and their goals and their vision and their creativity are the things that matter, and their exteriors are secondary.

We live in a society where that is just very, very difficult to remember. So, I just really like to remind them, as often as possible. My advice would be to continue to cultivate your spirit and your mind and your intelligence and your expression, and to go forward with strength, and that is what will make you most beautiful.

Moderator: Are you fans of the Disney Theme Parks?

David: Oh yes, my kids love it!

Elisa: I havenít brought Scarlet yet, because sheís not quite two, but I have been told by all of my friends that Disney Parks are going to become my good friend.

David: Oh, yes. Thereís no way around it.

Moderator: Whatís your favorite Disney Park around the world?

Elisa: Disneyland.

David: Disneyland.

Moderator: Whatís your favorite Disney ride or attraction?

Elisa: Pirates of the Caribbean.

David: Small World.

Moderator: What is your favorite food or restaurant, within a Disney Park?

David: I think we ate at Downtown Disney last time.

Elisa: I loved the Mickey Mouse shaped popsicles!

Moderator: What is your favorite Disney character?

David: I would say Ariel. I have two daughters, so I know every song in her repertoire.

Elisa: I would say Ariel also.
Moderator: How did the cast welcome you all to the show?

Elisa: Oh, with huge open arms! I was so excited, I felt like Iíve never had such a warm welcome from every direction, because not only did I know Melissa, Joey and David: beforehand, and Paula (Melissaís mom), obviously, there also were other crew members that had worked on Sabrina. David Kendall, who created the show, worked on Clueless, the series. So he and I had known one another for years, and it was just like this continual, happy, hugging, laughing, wonderful environment.

It was a complete joy to me. I mean, Iíve never had that experience before where everywhere I turned was like, ďHey, how are you?Ē And then on the stage across the way, Donald Faison was shooting his show, and I just thought, this is just madness, this is just so much fun, everywhere I look.

David: Yes, there was a lot of hugs and a lot of laughs.

Moderator: Who would you guys say was the biggest jokester on set?

David: Myself, Elisa, Joey and Melissa were just cracking each other up the whole time, just bringing up old stories.

Elisa: We were just laughing the whole time.

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