September 1, 2010

Joey Lawrence Q&A: Moving Beyond 'Whoa'

Joey Lawrence returned to prime time, along with Melissa Joan Hart, this summer with the ABC Family comedy Melissa & Joey. The star, who is best known for his role on the ‘90s sitcom Blossom, chatted with reporters about his new gig, family life and what’s next for his career.

Joey on regret: 
There were certain movies that I did not do during the whole Blossom run and stuff, just because I didn’t want to get burned out doing the whole teen thing…But you pass on some of these roles and they end up turning out to be huge hit movies.  I don’t know whether I’d re-do it, but it makes you think twice, like maybe I should have. 
But at the same point in time I didn’t want to burn myself out as a teenager and not have any sort of career later in life, because I think there are two ways you can go with that.  You can either get over-exposed and then never work again, make a lot of money but never work again, or you can pace yourself and say, you know what, I believe that I can do this for the rest of my life and I think the prime area of a career, for a male especially, really doesn’t even begin until you’re in your middle thirties.  Then if you’re lucky enough and if you choose wisely and you work hard enough probably 35-60 is really the career that you want. 

If you look at all the great leading men, you look at Tom Hanks and Michael Douglas and John Travolta, Bruce Willis, George Clooney, these guys, I mean, George Clooney didn’t even start ER until he was 35 or 36 years old.  So that’s what I was thinking.  I was trying to keep my eye on the bigger picture. 

I try not to have any regrets about anything, just because I believe that the way it went down is the way it was supposed to go down and I think you have to believe that otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy.

Joey on playing a manny:

Look, I think that every good dad and husband is part nanny.  That’s part of the job, right, you have kids, and I know that part of the domestic responsibilities, it’s a 50/50 road there.  I’m doing laundry at home and cleaning up around the house and cooking meals, and that’s just the way it works.  But I think that for this guy in particular it would be a little tough to go from making millions of dollars and basically having life at your fingertips to living in a basement apartment and cooking meals.  It would be a transition, to say the least, and I think that’s where the comedy comes from for Joe Longo.

I’m a big proponent of whatever job you have take pride in it and do it well.  I don’t think that any job is too small.  I think there are people too small for jobs.  So I don’t care if I was painting roofs or doing this kind of work, I would probably throw myself into it 100%.  That’s the way I was raised. 

I’m a dad, so I’m part nanny anyway.  I enjoy cooking and I like things clean and neat.  I’m not obsessed with it, but I do like things nice and clean and neat.  I’m always cleaning up around my house and I’m cooking some of the meals and doing some of the laundry and changing sheets and stuff.  I wouldn’t feel like it was below me or be in misery.  If I could see my work and wow, a nice clean house at the end of the day and some good food, it would be a simpler life, but it would be okay.

Joey on Blossom: 
There’s not one specific memory, just kind of a really great, warm feeling about the whole thing, because that was a tremendous time in my life.  There was a period of time there where as a 16-year-old, I was probably the most successful one in the world, so it’s not something that you plan but you certainly can’t beat that.  It was just so great to be on a big hit show like that and to be so successful personally and yet still have all my friends.  And I was in school and I was in high school and it was all those great things, you get your prom and you get your school trips.  And I flew back every three weeks to my private school in Pennsylvania and got to experience all that stuff and ended up graduating from there and never did the home school thing.  But it was just a wonderful time.  You look back on that and you say, wow, man, it was crazy how simple and just awesome it was, because as you get older life gets complicated, you know.

Joey on music:

I actually did write the theme song for this.  At the end of the show if you listen out for it and it’s like this, “I guess you’re stuck with me,” right, and that is part of a full song which will be up on iTunes and it’s a really cute little folky-pop thing.  Then we totally did a full remix, a brand new version of it, which will be on my record which comes out early next year, which is really exciting. 

The record’s great.  I would not have gone down that road again if I didn’t really think it was awesome, and it’s exciting working with Matthew Gerard (He’s just a prolific producer and has had 30 number one hit songs, and one that Kelly Clarkson did, Jesse McCartney, to the Hannah Montana) and a bunch of great guys on this thing and it’s a pop record that I think people are going to be happy with.  I don’t think people are going to be upset.  It’s really exciting stuff.  Anyway, the total remix version is we did this Reggae sort of dance version of this song and we flipped it up on its head and I re-did the vocal and everything and it sounds really sick.  So that will be on the record too. 

Joey on his recent injury:

I’m doing all right.  It was just a freak accident.  You carry your scripts around when you’re on the set, that’s just kind of the way it works, and one of the actors just by accident was going to hug somebody else and I got literally an entire roll of 40 pages jammed into my eye.  It just hit me right at the right spot, right in the center of the cornea, and it just ripped it, which is a very painful thing.  Fortunately, the eye is one of the fastest regenerating parts of the body; it can regenerate itself, thank God.  But it’s so painful when it happens.  Do you know when you get a big hair in your eye, almost like that paralyzing feeling of oh my God, something’s in there, well times that by three with this incredible burn, like the most severe paper cut, because that’s what they associate it to, and yet it’s always wet because it’s in your eye.  It’s going to take a month for me to get my vision back in there, because it’s all blurry and nasty.  And the pain is now just starting to subside and it’s been five days, so it’s pretty crazy.  It’s one of those freak things.

Joey on fame:

I’ve always tried to work hard.  I try to live right and make as many right choices as I can.  Nobody’s perfect by any means, but I think that we all know right and wrong and I think the goal in life, as my grandfather told me, is to try to make as many of the right decisions as you possibly can. 

I was from a generation that, not too long ago, but it was a generation that was about the work.  There were young people even in my generation growing up that messed up, that had problems with drugs and run-ins with the law and stuff, but it was about the work.  They didn’t go into it wanting to be famous for anything other than doing great work or being in big movies or TV shows. 

I think today if there’s been any change at all it’s that a lot of young people are coming in to this to be famous, like famous to be famous, not famous because of the work or forget about the fame and it’s just about the work, which is what I came into it for.  It was just about doing what you loved to do.  The fame thing was like, wow, you knew that was a cherry on top and it was a cool thing but you always kept perspective on it.  Whereas, today gosh, so many of these young people are just famous for a sex tape or famous for something else crazy or getting arrested or drug overdoses, you know, it’s horrible. 

I think that part of the reason why I think that I’ve been able to stick around for a long time is just because, well, number one, I’ve been lucky and I have great, incredible fans out there that grew up with me, because I’ve been able to do this from 5-years old to 34-years-old already.  And I’m just sort of beginning really, I feel, because as a leading man this is when it begins, at 30 really.  So it’s kind of cool.  And then keeping my nose clean and trying to live right and making it about the work instead of about my personal life, and trying to keep as much of that private.  And even though I’m a public person you try to keep as much of that private and try to keep it classy.  I think that it’s worked so far.

Joey on Twitter:

It’s hard to find time for it, actually.  I was sort of pushed into it.  All my friends are like, oh man, you’ve got to be on Twitter.  I’m like a techo-idiot actually, but I was able to master my iPhone and Twitter.  It’s kind of cool.  It’s crazy, it’s like crazy and cool at the same time.  It’s crazy that you are communicating with your fans, and that’s kind of cool and you get that instant feedback.  But then it’s part of your job now, because if you don’t do it there are a lot of people that are doing it and developing that kind of relationship I think is important.  They feel like they’re involved and they are involved in your career, and it just makes them more invested in the body of work that you do and that’s kind of the point, and it’s a good information highway to talk about things.  I think sometimes people get too personal.  There are boundaries, I think, just like there would be in a relationship with somebody.  But it’s a cool tool for certain things. 
[You can follow Joey @JoeyLawrence]

Joey on his career:

We’ve got a new record coming out next year, which is going to be exciting.  It’s the first time in a long time, but it’s so good and it’s taken a life of its own.  In terms of films, I’m always working on that.  That’s just a process that I really wanted to take my time and not rush it.  That’s why even as a teenager I passed on a lot of those movie roles because I wanted to do them later when I felt like as a man that I’d be able to do the roles that I wanted to do.  We’re getting there. 

I’m going to be doing a movie next year called Havana Heat, which is this big action Miami Vice thing, sort of in the line of The Expendables.  Wesley Snipes is in it and we’re working with a bunch of great other guys.  They’re closing their deals right now so I can’t really talk about them, but we’re going to put together sort of a dream team of amazing action guys and I’m going to play this cop that is sort of in the middle of it all.  It’s about a drug lord that goes from the United States down to Cuba and me and my team follow him.  It’s really exciting.  It’s really cool.  We’re going to start shooting that probably early next year, as soon as I’m done with hopefully the first full season of the show and before I start the second season. 

[Lawrence also recently sold a script to Disney for a movie called Mr. Everything.] It’s a movie that I’m doing with the producer of the Wedding Crashers, which is great.  It’s a really funny movie, kind of like Doc Hollywood meets Sweet Home Alabama.  We hope to be shooting it sometime next year, in between hopefully season one and two of this show.  But it’s a really funny, romantic comedy that I think will work well for them.  It would have made a great feature too.  But I think that with the success of My Fake Fiancé we thought why not let ABC Family kind of give another crack at it, and they were excited about it and got a great team, and we’re going to make a good one.  So I’m looking forward to that.

Joey on theater:
I’ve got mad props for those stage actors that do it 50 weeks out of the year, because it’s just tremendously draining because every day you wake up and basically it’s a countdown to the show.  Especially a musical like that, you have to be in perfect voice and you have to sleep and you need your rest, and you wake up and just prepare for the show.  It’s eight shows a week.  It’s unbelievable.  I did it for four months [as Billy Flynn in Chicago] and it kicked my butt.  It was a great experience, but boy, i was like, wow.  But if something came up that fit right—I get offered to do stuff, but I don’t feel like it’s really the right thing for me.  But that, I happen to love that particular musical and I love the character and they let me do a Frank Sinatra thing with them and I loved it, so that was why I did that. 

Movies and drama and stuff like that I think is obviously in the future, and it’s all part of the journey, and this is where I am at the moment.

Joey on Melissa & Joey guest stars:

We shot this big Dancing With The Stars kind of crossover episode and we’ll have somebody from that show that you all know.  We did it in a very edgy, on its head way, it’s not what you think the show would be about.  It’s kind of funny, which is what we like about it, because it’s something that people will go, oh my God, it’s a Dancing With The Stars episode of course, but then they’re going to watch it and go, oh my God, that’s totally not what I thought it was.  I think that was our plan.  But that will be on in a couple of weeks, it’s September 28th, I think. 

We’re always looking for people to come on if it makes sense, not take you out of the show, but if it makes sense.  We have Lucy DeVito is helping us out, Danny DeVito’s daughter, and she’s just been fantastic and is going to do hopefully several more episodes with us. 

I’m probably going to have Matthew and Andrew [his brothers] on the show at some point, not as my brothers but at some point in roles that are very cool and funny.  Then we’re always open to the idea of a name coming on and helping us out.  There’s been talk, you’re going to meet my ex-wife at some point, and we’re throwing around a few great names for that too.  We haven’t locked anybody in yet, so I can’t tell you, but it will be somebody that you know, I think, for that.  It always is fun to do that if it makes sense and doesn’t take you out of the show. 

Joey on Chemistry:

[Lawrence and Melissa Joan Hart have known each other since they were four. So how do they maintain their chemistry on screen?]

Well you know that’s why we get paid the big bucks there. It’s just all part
of the job when you have to play certain characters.  There are areas that you have to tap into and you’ve got to pull from personal things in your life and try to use those in your job.  I associate it to just putting myself into Joe Longo’s world and he’s attracted to her, therefore, I am as well as Joe Longo.

Joey on balancing family and career:
I’m not any different than any guy who’s an upstart lawyer or an investment banker or a construction worker or a teacher or anything like that.  That’s really, I think, the toughest challenge in life is to balance being the best parent you can be and also succeeding as much as you can, knowing that you’re doing it for your family, knowing that you’re doing it for college funds and to hopefully allow you and your wife to be able to spend your later years in somewhat of financial comfort.  That’s what it’s all about.  But that balance is probably the toughest thing in life, really, because it’s about switching gears constantly. 

You come home from a long day of work and there’s a lot of things on your mind and the normal stresses and anxieties and responsibilities of your work, and then bang, you walk through the door and it’s diaper changing and Phineas and Ferb and story time and bath time, and it’s just, wow.  So it’s not easy, but challenges are something that I feel are exciting and that I want to conquer, and this is certainly I think one of the largest ones that any person will ever have really.

Joey on sitcoms:
Well, we were all fans of those great comedies, the great Thursday night lineup with Mad About You and those Tuesday night lineups on ABC.  I don’t think the audience necessarily ever got sick of that.  I think it was the business that said, let’s try something new and maybe reality will be a cheaper way to make people laugh and get our bang for our buck.  And I think, look, reality is not going to die, clearly it’s going to be around forever, but they can live and co-exist.  I don’t think it needs to replace it. 

I think with the resurgence of the half hour comedies on CBS and Two and a Half Men and all that kind of stuff I think that you are seeing that, and we wanted to bring a romantic comedy back, because I don’t think a romantic comedy was on TV.  So it’s working so far, man.  But it’s like a big chocolate chip cookie, it makes you feel good.  And I think that the chemistry is working on the show, I think the writing is good, and it’s a young adult comedy.  There are very few romantic comedies out there for 18-year-olds to 49-year-olds, there’s just not a lot happening, so we were happy to pave that road again and so far it’s been working.  

Joey on Mel and Joe’s relationship: 
I think that this relationship is very similar to Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting, it’s very similar to Ted Danson and Shelly Long/Kirstie Alley.  I think it’s those love to hate, hate to love things, and I think that if you get these two people together that starts to signify the show wrapping itself up.  So you’ve got to fight that for as long as you can, because I think if you give into that then it becomes syrupy and gives you cavities and then the comedy dies.  So it probably will happen, but hopefully we have an opportunity to be on for a while and it won’t happen for a while.


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