Melora Hardin is busy. In addition to her gig as the ever-quirky Jan on The Office and her recurring role as Trudy Monk on Monk, she just finished a Broadway run as Chicago's Roxie and can currently be seen on the big screen in 17 Again. All the while, she's been gathering music for her third album -- and raising her adorable 4- and 8-year-old daughters, Rory and Piper. Now she's just starred in and directed her first feature film, You, co-starring her husband, Gildart Jackson, who also wrote the script. She tells iVillage what it's like to co-star with your hubby and shoot a film in your house.
The film features many of your family members, including your parents and daughters. How did you make it?
We made the movie two years ago. We shot it in our own house for 18 days and had two nannies working around the clock, plus our parents who did a lot of babysitting. We were using our house for the shoot and as a production office, so we moved into our parents' guest room. A lot of our real family dynamic actually comes right through in the film.
What was it like to man the ship of both your family and the movie at the same time?
I would say that those 18 days were intense in that I was required to be many things -- wife, co-producer, mommy, star, director, executive producer and more. It brought out all the complicated relationships between director and writer, husband and wife, co-star and co-star, director and star. So we put our heads down and just went for it! Collaborating is one of my favorite things to do in life, and making this movie was one of the most profound collaborations I've ever had.
How did the film affect your marriage?
I would say that my husband and I had a really great time and a really hard time. We had arguments, we had disagreements, we had moments of elation. But we didn't get divorced, we still love each other, and we want to make another movie together! I think we feel very victorious about it. I think our daughters benefited from it, because they got to see that Mommy and Daddy are really making their dreams happen. This is something we've wanted to do since we met.
Your film follows a husband for 20 years after the death of his beloved wife. As a young mother yourself, what made you want to do a film on that subject?
I think everyone's been in love or had a soul mate, and had those moments where that person comes home a little later than they say they would, and their mind runs a little wild and they get a little panicky. We were inspired by that universal feeling you get when you've spent all this time finding that one person, and then, "What if...?"'