September 24th, 2010 by thetvchick
Melissa & Joey stars two of my favorite sitcom actors from my youth: Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. It’s a quirky show about a “manny” who comes into Mel Burke’s (a former wild child now local politician) family and shakes things up a bit. Burke’s niece and nephew moved in because their mom got sent to jail and it makes for an interesting family dynamic. I recently had the chance to chat with Taylor Spreitler, who plays Lennox (the niece). The former daytime television star is having a blast working with Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence and she talked about working in front of a live studio audience, some funny fan encounters and what makes this show unique.
You came from a daytime television background, so what drew you to this particular sitcom role?
Really just the people that were in it, obviously. Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence are not exactly something you say no to. The story. I always kind of have been in a dysfunctional family, so it’s cool to be able to still play that and get to kind of be the normal teenager who has an edge to her and is a little rebellious. She’s not just super rebellious who does stuff to act out. She’s really smart about it. She’s does what she truly believes in. So it was cool to be able to play somebody like that.
Are you anything like Lennox?
Yeah, there’s definitely parts of her that are the same. I’m not as erratic as she can get. (laughs) I don’t exactly just jump to conclusions and lash out sometimes like she does, and then [she realizes] “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that.” But she’s a smart alec and so am I, so in that aspect, we are definitely a lot alike.
And at it’s core, Melissa & Joey is a comedy. But in the first episode, you could tell Lennox wasn’t exactly opening up to Aunt Mel and she was still hurting with what happened with her mom. Will we find out more about that relationship with her mom and what her background was?
Yeah, definitely coming up, there’s some stuff about my mom. And some stuff about my dad is coming up. The episode that we’re filming now actually gets into it a little bit more. But you definitely end up finding out more. I honestly though — I don’t really know that much. The audience is kind of learning along as I’m learning.
You’re working with some very well known stars. So what has it been like for you working with Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence?
It’s been great. We have such a fun environment that we work in. Melissa knows some of the people from Sabrina, so we’re all very close. And Joey — our first director was his dad on Blossom, so they already knew people, so from the first day, it was like this family oriented, everybody has known each other forever environment, so it was easy to also fall into that. We hang out off set. Last night, Nick and I went with Melissa and some of her family to the Dodger game because she was throwing out the first pitch. It was funny because Nick and I feel like a part of her family, and we’re like “wait, she’s not our real aunt.” So it’s funny.
(laughs) And both of them worked on TV as teenagers, so have they given you any advice about it?
Yeah, there’s definitely pep talks and do’s and don’ts that they tell me. And if I need to talk about anything, they’re exactly the type of people that it’s easy to walk up to them and talk about stuff. And they usually know the answer to everything, so it’s nice to have people like that to work with.
Yeah, definitely. And do you have a favorite moment from filming the show so far?
There’s been a lot of good ones. There’s an episode where there’s some silly dancing involved. And that was definitely a lot fun.
Sounds like it! It’s obviously a very funny set as well. Is there a lot of cracking each other up and funny takes and stuff like that?
Yeah. It’s kind of weird, because all of us, there’s sort of a part of us that is identical to our characters, like the way Nick and I act toward each other is kind of the way Lennox and Rider act towards each other. Aunt Mel is like the fun Aunt Mel, and Melissa’s like the one we go and talk to, and Joey’s the one who kind of lays down the law more. So it’s funny, we still have that kind of thing, so we laugh about the same kind of stuff that we laugh about on the show. So it’s interesting. But luckily though, we don’t break the seal as much as you would think that we would just because we hear it so much. There’s an episode coming up that I think you can see me in the background laughing and having to turn my head because I couldn’t stop laughing.
(laughs) I’ll make sure to look out for that.
I look really stupid. You shouldn’t be able to miss it.
What has it been like for you filming in front of a live studio audience? It’s very different from what you came from.
It’s crazy. I’m not used to that. I’m used to maybe ten people at most being on set, and walking off and nobody being there. But it’s cool. You kind of get an adrenaline rush and it’s exciting, and it’s so much fun to hear the audience laugh at stuff that you don’t really think is that funny anymore because you’ve heard it all week, and they just bring it back to life and it’s great. And then meeting people afterwards — we’ve met some of the most interesting people after these shows. It turns out somehow we’ve known somebody in the past, and we end up knowing each other, so it’s cool.
Have you had any particularly interesting fan experiences after the show?
It was only around our second episode, so nobody really knew us. Actually, the only people that have watched the show and were a part of the live audience was last week and that was a completely different experience, having people who actually know you, coming down and asking for pictures. But after the second episode, these guys who were from all over — Germany and Australia — there was this big group of them, and they all came up and they were like “Oh, we love the show, it’s great. We watched it.” And I was like “you guys didn’t watch it, it’s not on the air yet….thank you…I don’t know who you think I am.” It was funny, they obviously thought that we were completely different people.
(laughs) Well maybe now if they came back they’d know who you are.
So how will Lennox’s relationship with her fun Aunt Mel continue to develop as the season goes on?
Well, we’re definitely always going to be the ones who — we do stuff and then we catch each other doing stuff. Well, the episode [from a few weeks ago] she’s dating a bad boy and tells me that I can’t date this guy who is a bad boy, but then I find out that she’s dating the bad boy, and it’s just like “Oh no, we’re both doing the same thing. Don’t tell Joe! He’ll be really mad at us.” So the things we do, we kind of let each other get away with it. At the end of the day, it’s like “Please don’t tell Joe, he’s going to be so mad at me!”
(laughs) Right, and then he walks in.
(laughs) Both of us kind of get grounded most of the time, it’s not just one of us.
Obviously, its star power makes Melissa & Joey unique, but what do you think makes the show different and special from what’s out there?
I think it’s the things that we deal with. They always say that the best kind of sitcoms come from the dysfunctional families who have the problems in life. It’s always people laughing through the pain, and we definitely have that. I think it’s cool the circumstances that we’ve all been put into, and then the storylines that we deal with, and they’re serious storylines but you’re laughing your ass off at us for trying to figure them out. So I think it’s a way for everybody to kind of learn about things that are going on today, but in a funny way, so you don’t ever take it way too seriously.
I like that answer. I know you obviously can’t spoil too much, but can you give us a little teaser of what’s coming up for Lennox in the next few episodes?
Well Lennox is still getting into trouble. She definitely keeps getting herself into sticky situations. I’m not too sure what episodes are airing because we’re airing them all out of order, so I just know what airs tonight.
I noticed you have an active account on Twitter, and you interact with a lot of your fans. What has that been like? Have you gotten a lot of positive feedback from the show?
Yeah, actually I haven’t really had anybody on Twitter or really anywhere say anything bad about the show, which has been great. I think people don’t really hold back on that.
Yeah, especically on Twitter.
Yeah, I feel like people will say anything on there, so it’s definitely been nice — everybody’s just saying “Congratulations, I love the show.” It’s been good, so far.
Obviously my site is about TV, so I always like to ask people what your favorite TV shows are that you’re watching?
I really like That 70s Show and Entourage, and other than that I don’t watch too much TV.
You have long working days, so that makes sense.
Yeah, honestly it’s hard to watch movies and TV shows after you’ve become an actor because you try to figure things out that most people aren’t trying to figure out. It’s like “Oh, I know how they did that,” and after a while, it’s not as much fun.