It seems anywhere you turn in Hollywood, you will find a Melora Hardin project.
She was Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical “Chicago.” She’s in the upcoming FX series “Lights Out.” She plays supporting characters in 17 Again and Hannah Montana: The Movie. She plays, of course, the recurring Jan Levinson on NBC's “The Office.” And now she is adding “Director” to her resume with her personally-funded film You.
“I loved (directing). I really did,” she said. “It was quite an experience having an opportunity to find a script that really moved me to the point that I asked, ‘Can I direct it?’ It really made a dream come true.”
Hardin’s been steadily moving toward the director’s chair her whole life, coming from acting parents Diane and Jerry Hardin. She’s married to actor-writer Gildart Jackson.
Was there any doubt she would end up behind the camera someday?
“I’ve been surrounded by wonderful people my whole life,” she said. “I remember thinking at the dinner table, ‘I have to do something with this family one day.’”
Well, she did in her drama, You, which stars nearly everyone in her immediate family. The film is about a widower struggling to raise a young girl once his soul mate dies in a car accident. It’s a tragedy not unfamiliar to many families across the globe.
“People feel very open-hearted by this film,” Hardin said. “They feel like they want to call their parents or their loved ones. If that’s the message, then I feel like, ‘Wow, we’ve done a much better thing.’”
You is an honest look into the psyche surrounding grief.
“You can feel all the love and passion that we poured into it,” Hardin said.
The script was borne out of a daydream Hardin had while in bed with Jackson and their infant daughter. She wondered what it would be like to speak at her wedding. Jackson then took that idea and explored what would happen if the dream were crushed in his original screenplay.
“When he handed me the script to read and I asked if I could direct it, he wanted to make rewrites. I said, ‘No. It’s so perfect the way it is,’” Hardin said. “It really did have that kind of incredible heart and soul and humor and sadness and grief.”
But at its core, You is about a more powerful emotion.
“The heart of this film is family,” Hardin said. “It represents the way a family can truly love someone and each other. Everyone is just trying to do their best and live life and grow up. That’s kind of an interesting concept.”
My full review will appear in Friday’s Watertown Daily Times with further links and bonus quotes on my blog.