In a career that began in 1976 with an episode of Police Story (and has since provided a laundry list of credits and achievements), it's unbelievable that Hallmark Channel and Melora Hardin had not crossed paths. Hardin changes that this weekend with the Hallmark premiere of Love, Classified. It's not that she didn't want to work with Hallmark; rather, she was just waiting for the right project to come her way. "I don't think they could entice me before now," she reflected in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "They're an incredible company, and in 2018 they made more movies than all movie studios combined. They run a machine, and they do really great things that make people feel really good and I'm all for good feelings. I think they're wonderful.
"I just wasn't really attracted to [anything] before," she continued. "But this script was really good. It was written by Lynn Sternberger, who was a writer on the first season of The Bold Type, the series I did that wrapped our fifth and final season last year. It had such a freshness. It's modern, the dialogue is fresh, and it has a queer storyline. Stacy N. Harding, who directed, did a great job. Hallmark was ready to expand its storytelling, and kind of come to terms with some of the places they haven't really delved into yet. So, I'm really, really proud to be a part of that and of them, as they're such an amazing company to work with. I love that they are family-oriented, plus [this movie] has a real warm feeling that goes along with the warm entertainment they put out in the world."
Love, Classified is a great example of Hallmark Channel's new direction in telling inclusive stories. What sets it apart from other recent Hallmark projects with inclusive themes is that one character is open to exploring gender fluidity concerning dating -- a first -- which excited Hardin. "That's what drew me to it," she explained. "The fact they're taking those steps to get with current thinking, modernize themselves and expand. I'm all for expansion and including everything and everybody! I'm constantly doing that personally and creatively. It just felt right. I do think it's going to be a momentous film for them -- a turning point."
The film explores how technology now connects people, along with how complicated family dynamics (particularly fractured ones) keep people apart. Especially where her daughter Taylor (Katherine McNamara, pictured above with Hardin) is concerned. "My character, author Emilia Bloom, is this whirlwind of a personality," Hardin explained. "She's dealt with a lot of heartbreak, and the way she handles [it] manifests in her body. Not dealing with it, and sort of cutting off from the people that she loves is really interesting and a very true kind of place to look at love. It's a different vantage point to come into the story; the love, the lack thereof, or just the healing that needs to take place around the heart -- that's really what it's about.
"All the characters have to kind of come to terms with their own heartbreak and how not dealing with [it] has made them do strange things," she added. "I think that's very true of people. If they don't deal with their real feelings and the real heartbreak, they start to [develop] odd behaviors and make odd choices. So, it's profound in that way, and as I say, makes it all the more real."
As a result of her actions, Hardin's character is also dealing with her own mortality, something she was also interested in exploring. "The pandemic really forced the issue," she reflected. "We are living, and from the moment we're born we start losing things. It's an odd thing that in our society we are so opposed to. But death is a part of life, and Amelia [is] confronted with that and it's a sobering experience. It's good to be sober because when you have sobriety around thoughts, or around conditioning, you get to have the joy of living and gratitude for life itself."
Hardin is excited about doing another Hallmark movie, should the right thing come along. "I'd never say no," she said. "I'm always one of those people that takes a project at a time, so we may collaborate on other things and in other ways as well, as I had a wonderful experience with them." She recently completed work on a documentary series she directed entitled Thunder, Hunter & Me, a four-year passion project about healing, women empowering other women, and what it takes to transform trauma. And after portraying an author in Love, Classified, she would love to add writer to her resume. "I am currently writing a book that I've had in my mind for like the last 15 years," she admitted. "I have stacks of single-space pages. It's really interesting."
Till then, it's back to work on ABC's A Million Little Things, reprising her role of Patricia Bloom (no relation to her Hallmark character). "Joanna Kerns (Growing Pains) is their directing producer this year," she shared in closing. "She's just wonderful, and as I'm doing a lot more directing, it's super fun to spend time with her. Patricia is a fun character and in these episodes at the end of this season, you get to see a different side of her. Patricia and her daughter Maggie (Allison Miller) might even find a way to come together after the tension and friction of the past season."
Love, Classified is telecast Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark Channel, as part of their Spring Into Love programming event.
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