Why Hollywood Won't Cast Melissa Joan Hart Anymore

Melissa Joan Hart was the queen of the '90s, starring in Clarissa Explains It All, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Drive Me Crazy. She was everywhere and she was, well, everything. Then, despite appearing on various subsequent shows, including Melissa & Joey, she kind of drifted away from Hollywood's radar, much to the disappointment of die-hard Hart fans like us. 

But it's not all as bad as it seems, and as it turns out, her diminished profile was partly by choice. From her successful pivot to production work, to her focus on motherhood, to a bit of light controversy in both her personal and professional lives, there are solid reasons why it looked like Hollywood would't cast one of Nickelodeon's biggest breakout stars — until recently.

Let's take a look at how Hart navigated her career from successful child actor to behind-the-scenes power player, and how she could be bringing it all full circle.

Melissa Joan Hart is a crew member at heart

Melissa Joan Hart revealed to Rare.Us that as much as she loves acting, she also enjoys behind-the-camera work. "My fondest memories really came from what happened behind-the-scenes. Just having the privilege of working with some amazing people in front of and behind the camera. I've also really loved physical comedy," she said while talking about her work on Melissa and Joey.

Hart was an executive producer of the series for its entire run from 2010 to 2015. She also served as a producer and/or executive producer of Sabrina the Teenage Witch for 78 episodes, as well as on TV movies Broadcasting Christmas, Santa Con, My Fake Fiance, and Rent Control.

Hart has also tried her hand at directing. She directed six episodes of Melissa and Joey, nine of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the TV movie Santa Con, and a slew of sitcom episodes from 2018 through 2020. 

Did Melissa Joan Hart leave her manager high and dry?

Melissa Joan Hart had some serious management issues in 2011 that may have thrown a wrench into her ability to get work for a time. The Hollywood Reporter dished up the dirt that Hart's former talent manager, Kieran Maguire, filed a lawsuit against the actress for alleged unpaid commissions. 

Maguire claims Hart hired him in 2006 when her acting career was "dwindling," and that she made an oral agreement to pay him 10 percent commission for her work. He claims that after repping her for five years and nabbing her the Melissa and Joey gig in 2010, she fired him in March 2011 and refused to pay him for commissions beyond the first season of the series. 

They settled the lawsuit in 2012, but having something like that on her record in the business may make other managers and agents think twice before doing business with her, whether or not the allegations were accurate or fair.

Running with a bad crowd

In her 2013 tell-all book, Melissa Explains It All (via Life & Style), Melissa Joan Hart explained that she avoids the Hollywood lifestyle, as well as the paparazzi-hungry celebs who embrace it — though she admits that she dabbled in some dangerous stuff briefly when she was younger.

"I experimented with weed, Ecstasy, mushrooms and mescaline for about a year and a half," she said. She added that she once took Ecstasy at the Playboy Mansion in 1999 and made out with a girl on the limo ride home, then went to a Maxim photoshoot when she was still high, noting, "That was my third or fourth time on Ecstasy." She also claimed Paris Hilton once offered her cocaine, which she rejected. "I was kind of running with a bad crowd," Hart wrote. "I just didn't enjoy taking drugs. I don't like the loss of control." (Hilton denies the cocaine offer ever took place.)

Hart also claims that actor Jerry O'Connell was a "man-w***e" that she made out with a few times, and she said she briefly dated Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. She also claims that she's not a fan of Ashton Kutcher, writing, "Ashton and I just didn't get along." She alleges the Punk'd star made so many "smarta** remarks" at one of her parties that she threw him out.

The 'mom guilt' is real for Melissa Joan Hart

Once Melissa Joan Hart became a mom, work took a backseat to parenthood. The mother of three boys told Us Weekly in November 2016, "I have mom guilt that I'm here right now and I didn't put my kids on the school bus ... I didn't spend enough time with this one ... didn't pack a healthy-enough lunch. I threw away some toys that they love. You really have this guilt every single day, and it eats away at you that you're not a good person and you can't do it right."

She also told People that working in Los Angeles was tough when her family was home. "I just had the last six weeks off and I got to be home [in Connecticut]," she said in October 2015. "Now I'm going to go back to the West coast for the next five months [to film Melissa and Joey]. My kids are in school so they have to be here — it is really hard ... We're just taking it a month at a time. I see them every other week. It's difficult but at least I can also focus on work and then go home and be a mom."

Melissa Joan Hart is no Hollywood liberal

While many celebrities are outspoken in favor of Democratic candidates, Melissa Joan Hart supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race and faced a slew of vitriol online for it. E! reports that after Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election, Twitter users bullied the actress, with one troll calling her "a fat, unbankable, untalented, uneducated, neo-con, bad mom, child star from the 80s."

She came under criticism again in 2016 when she actively championed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, chairing his Connecticut campaign. "I want to break away from this two-party system and I think it's important for people to know that there's another candidate out there who really toes the line between Democrat and Republican," she told People. "I mean he's Libertarian. But socially he's liberal, but fiscally conservative."

Hart's more conservative leanings make her a minority in Hollywood, and not seeing eye-to-eye politically with her peers may have cost her work.

Being spiritual in Hollywood is hard

Melissa Joan Hart is a devout Christian, so a lot of the subject matter in typical Hollywood fare isn't really up her alley — and she's gotten blowback from both sides for her roles in Sabrina the Teenage Witch and for God's Not Dead 2, in which she plays a Christian public school teacher who gets sued for comparing the teachings of Jesus with those of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

"For the longest time, while I played a witch on television [on Sabrina the Teenage Witch], the Christian community attacked me for popularizing the magic aspects on that secular TV show," Hart told the Chicago Sun Times. "Now it's the opposite. I'm getting grief for playing the good Christian woman who is being persecuted by the outside world! Today, there are a lot of Christians being persecuted for their faith, far beyond the freedoms this country was founded on..."

Is Clarissa still in the cards?

Melissa Joan Hart isn't too eager to reprise her iconic role as the titular Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In 2016, she talked to E! about the possibility of rebooting the classic kid show. "I think the thing about reboots is ... they're hard to do right," she said, adding, "I think sometimes it's better to just leave it in the past unless you do it really, really great."

However, Hart was a little more willing to throw back to her first lead role on TV as the titular character in Clarissa Explains It All, as long as the story was good. She told Entertainment Weekly that while Nickelodeon "still hold[s] the cards for that," she would consider it, "depend[ing] on what the deal was ... the situation and the character, like how is she used, who's going to write it, because it's got to be done right; if you do it wrong it's just a bummer."

By 2018, the Clarissa reboot rumors had kicked into high gear, with The Hollywood Reporter even exclusively declaring that a deal was in the works. The following year, however, Hart would only go so far as to tell E!, "There's talks. There's possibilities. There's a few drawn up pieces of paper about it, but I'm busy on Netflix right now, so that contract had to take a backseat." That Netflix show, by the way, was No Good Nick, and it was axed after two seasons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Clarissa reboot, as of fall 2020, was listed as "announced."