Melora Hardin, 55, stars in the new Hulu psychological thriller Clock as the doctor in charge of a clinical trial to “fix” a woman’s biological clock to make her desire motherhood. She’s also reprising her role as Trudy Monk in Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie, due to stream this year. And she’s been directing a very personal four-part docuseries, Thunder, Hunter, and Me, about helping her friend heal from childhood trauma. A lifelong artist, Hardin created collages while working on the documentary, which have been transformed into wallpaper, Storyboards by Melora Hardin.
1. What drew you to take on the physician role in Clock?
When they sent me the script to read, I was very taken with how it felt a little bit like a feminist statement in a way to be talking about having children, making children or not making children based on this pressure from society or from family or from peers. I thought, Wow, that’s a really interesting conversation that I have not seen on television or in film. It was a fresh take on it. When I met [writer/director] Alexis Jacknow who is smart and creative, I also just was like, Wow, she really has a real voice, and I want to be part of that. The doctor is an important part of that conversation because she thinks she’s doing something good for women. I don’t think she is malicious in her program.
2. Can you give us an update on the Monk reunion?
We're going to start filming that [this month]. I’m so excited. I love Tony Shalhoub. I love [director] Randy Zisk. I love all the people that are part of it. We’re all going to get to come together and get to have fun again. They’re all excellent professionals but also excellent people — very down-to-earth and very real and just having a good time. We’re going to shoot in Toronto for about five weeks. It’s the first since we wrapped the series. That’s exciting to come back.
3. Speaking of reunions, any chance you will be revising your role as Jan Levinson on The Office?
I have nothing to do with that. I would show up if they wanted me to. Greg Daniels [show writer and producer] is a friend of mine, and I’m always saying to him, “So Greg, what are we doing?” He hasn’t told me anything.
4. What shows did you love to watch as a kid?
Little House on the Prairie, and I was on that twice, when I was 12 and then again when I was 15. I played two different characters. Matthew Labyorteaux is still one of my best friends. He played Albert on that. He’s actually my youngest daughter’s godfather. That’s how close we are.
5. The recent documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields shows a dark side of child acting. Was your experience positive?
Yes. I haven’t seen [Pretty Baby] yet, but I think the difference is that I had really amazing parents who are both actors. In my family, it was never focused on fame or money. The focus was the artistry, the craft, and my parents weren’t living vicariously through me. They were enjoying me and enjoying my success, but they were just guiding me and they were there for me and they were holding me close and taking care of me and teaching me how to be a professional and how to be an artist.
6. Your daughters are both pursuing entertainment careers. Did you encourage them?
I didn’t encourage. I waited for them to beg, and then they begged like I begged. They both have acted professionally. My older daughter [Rory Jackson] is 21 and she’s at NYU [New York University] and she’s an amazing actress, and she will probably make her living as an actress. She’s a fine artist, too. She’s super talented. My younger daughter, who’s also worked professionally as an actress, is going to be going to NYU next year. She’s a singer-songwriter. … She’s got two songs on Spotify, so anybody that wants to look her up, her name is Piper Jackson. ... You’ll love her music. I’m just blown away by her.
7. You competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2021. How was that experience?
I loved it. I’ve been dancing since I was 5, and I’ve never done any ballroom dancing, so that was really, really interesting and fun to do a whole new thing. The show itself is really — first and foremost — it’s a reality show. Part of the reason that I wanted to do it — not just because I love to dance — was because of the documentary. I wanted people to see the real Melora and have an opportunity to get to know Melora and not just Melora’s characters that I’m famous for. It was an interesting opportunity to do that, but it’s really different from when you’re on Broadway — singing and dancing [where you] have everything you need — everyone gives you the time: the right amount of time on stage, the right amount of time to eat, the right amount of time with your costume. Everything is scheduled. [On Dancing With the Stars, they want] to keep you a little bit on edge so that you’re just always [feeling] a little bit in deprivation. They ramp up the stress. …That part of it I wasn’t thrilled with, but I’m proud of the way I showed up.
8. How did your art become wallpaper?
I’ve been a collage artist really all my life. … I collaged a whole dressing screen in my 20s for my apartment. … I used to make boxes that I would fully collage, and there was a little boutique that I sold them at on 3rd Street [in Los Angeles]. … Through making this documentary [Thunder, Hunter, and Me] the last six years, it was weird that the collages ended up being something that the person that I was working with, my subject, used them for her healing, and something that became a way for her to escape and have a vision for her life when she couldn’t hold a vision for her life. And then everybody around me was saying, “God, I just want these to be so big. They just feel like they’re telling stories, and they just feel like I want them to be giant.” And then I met someone who saw my collages and said, “You need to meet my brother. He’s a printer and prints wallpaper and collaborates with artists.” And it just sort of had this natural rollout to it that I could have never planned.
9. After six years, how close are you to finishing the documentary?
I feel like this is the year. A documentary is real life, and real life keeps going. I just had to follow the breadcrumbs. I thought I was finished a couple of times, and then it revealed itself to me that we were still going. The most exciting thing about where we are now with it is that for the longest time, my subject was not able to really tell her own story. She needed me to do it because she was really just not far enough along in her own healing. It kind of re-traumatized her. So I had to put a voice to it every time. She wanted me to, and I was good at doing that. It’s going to be so much more powerful because now she’s wanting and ready to tell her own story. It’s what I always wanted as a filmmaker — for her to tell her own story.
10. How are you feeling about entering your mid-50s?
I feel fine about it. My father who is 93 says, “You better celebrate every birthday, because there’s only one other option.” So that’s pretty much how I feel about it. I’m good with it. I’m happy. I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to have my 56th birthday. There’s a lot of people that don’t.
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