Q&A with Sterling Knight of “Melissa & Joey” (2014)
February 2, 2014 by Dennis Amith
Sterling Knight as Zander and Taylor Spreitler as Lennox Scanlon on ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey” (Image courtesy of ABC FAMILY)
Actor Sterling Knight is known for his Disney Channel role, starring alongside Demi Lovato in “Sonny with a Chance” (2009-2011)and also on the show “So Random!” (2011-2012), as a talented singer/guitarist, he showing his musical talent in the 2010 Disney Channel film “StarStruck”.
And now, Sterling Knight has joined the cast of ABC Family’s sitcom “Melissa & Joey” as the character Zander, a good friend of Lennox Scanlon (portrayed by Taylor Spreitler).
To promote the current season of “Melissa & Joey”, Sterling too part in a media Q&A.
Here is a transcript from the media Q&A:
Moderator How did you meet Demi Lovato?
Sterling I actually met Demi at the audition for the pilot of Sonny with a Chance, which is interesting given the fact that we’re both from Texas; she’s from Dallas, I’m from Houston. But we actually met in the audition in front of all of the producers and writers and all the scary people in suits. I think, actually, our first meeting or second meeting is online on YouTube in my audition video.
Moderator Do you hang out with the cast of Sonny with a Chance and So Random?
Sterling We do, we all try and get together every once in a while. It’s been a couple years now — everybody’s pretty busy on other things, but we do try and make time and hang out with each other. It’s a good little family that we all started out with, and it’s always fun to get the gang back together.
Moderator Could you describe your character on Melissa & Joey?
Sterling Zander is the nicest lovable idiot, I think. He’s not the brightest bulb in the batch. He constantly puts his foot in his mouth, but he’s very well intentioned and he wants good things for people. He just kind of ends up messing things up every once in a while and can’t really get his foot out of his mouth. He’s been really fun to play.
Moderator What is it like working with Taylor Spreitler?
Sterling Well it’s helpful playing against Taylor’s character, because her character’s humor is so dry and witty, it makes my job a lot easier to sell the dummy a little bit. But I’ve known Taylor for years; I think we’ve been friends for, gosh, seven years, eight years now. So it’s been really exciting to finally get to work with somebody that I’ve known for so long.
We have a really great relationship, both personally and professionally. We hang out outside of work, and it’s always nice to go into your job and have a friend there and hang out. We usually make each other laugh when we’re not making each other angry [laughs].
Moderator What would you tell those readers who haven’t yet watched Melissa & Joey?
Sterling I think the writing on Melissa & Joey is probably one of the better sitcom writings I’ve watched, and especially these later seasons. Obviously because I’m there, I think the writing’s gotten a lot better [laughs]. But every show it takes them a while to kind of find their groove, and I think this show has really found it. I think it explores the ABC Family tagline. It does explore a modern take on the household, and especially the banter between Melissa and Joey is kind of priceless. I’m a big fan of the show!
Moderator Will you and Joey Lawrence ever work on some music together?
Sterling Actually a couple weeks ago I brought my guitar to set, just because I wasn’t very heavy in one of the episodes so there’s a lot of downtime. So I was messing around with the guitar, and Joey came in and we had a little jam session. I mean that was fun, but I don’t know if that will ever happen professionally. He may not want to work with me; he’s a lot more talented, especially as a dancer, than I am [laughs].
Moderator What is it like to film in front of a live studio audience?
Sterling I love it! I grew up in theater, so the multi-camera sitcom with a live audience is about as close to putting on a play as you can get while still not having to rehearse for 19 weeks and then do eight shows a week, which is always kind of nice. But I really think that it makes something special out of a weird, awkward situation. As soon as the audience is there it kind of freshens everything up; all the jokes that you’ve been hearing and rehearsing all week get new energy and new life, and I know that the entire cast responds really well with a good high-energy audience. It’s really fun to hear people screaming at you while you’re trying to take directions.
Moderator How hard is it to keep a straight face while filming?
Sterling Impossible. I’m really bad at it, which is awful. I’ll go ahead and I’ll throw myself under the bus here, I actually practice keeping a straight face sometimes. So I’ll watch really funny standup comedy routines or something like that and try to not laugh while watching it. Which essentially makes watching the stand up comedy not enjoyable, because I don’t get to laugh. But it’s really difficult; that’s something that I have trouble with. I don’t know, everybody on that show is capable of making me laugh, so it’s hard.
Moderator Who is the funniest on set?
Sterling Everybody’s funny in different ways. Melissa has out-of-context quotes that are just so left field and they’re hilarious, but Joey has better rant comedy. If he gets really worked up about something he’ll take a good two minutes and just kind of let loose on a topic, and that’s hilarious. Everybody has their own kind of style, but I don’t know, Joey probably makes me laugh more than anybody.
Moderator What’s your most and least favorite thing about your character, Zander?
Sterling Probably my most favorite thing about Zander is sort of his likeability. He’s just a good guy and he’s trying, which is pretty different from the Chad Dillon Cooper on Sonny with a Chance and So Random, who was the likeable jerk, or at least I tried to make him likeable. So I think my favorite part is Zander is just a genuinely good person and it’s hard to get mad at him or dislike him in any way.
My least favorite part is probably that he’s an artist, simply because I can’t draw a stick figure very well but I have to pretend I’m making these amazing sketches and photos. I have to hold the pencil like an artist would, and I feel useless every time. Every time they hand me the sketchpad I’m like, “I don’t know what to do.”
Moderator What is your favorite character you’ve gotten to play in your career?”
Sterling Character wise was probably either Chad Dillon Cooper from Sonny with a Chance or Alex from 17 Again. Just because the Chad character was so ridiculous and very not like myself. And then the Alex character from 17 Again — I used to be that kid, and so it was nice getting back in that socially awkward position, like you don’t enjoy going to high school. So I know not to take for granted that progress I’ve made socially.
Moderator What other TV shows beside Melissa & Joey are you watching?
Sterling Well, I mean I just got done with Breaking Bad, and that was quite epic, obviously, because it’s Breaking Bad. I’m actually kind of behind on a lot of the shows. So I’m in season two or season three of Nip/Tuck, so I’m catching up on a lot of the really good television shows from a couple years ago.
But the ones that are currently on, obviously I’m anticipating the next season of Game of Thrones, like everybody. And, oh goodness, Shameless is like my guilty pleasure, because I hate admitting that I watch it because the characters are just such bad people [laughs]. But the acting and the writing on it are phenomenal, and I just can’t get enough of it. So that’s probably my guilty pleasure right now.
Moderator If you could pick someone to work with, either past or present, who would it be and why?
Sterling Leonardo DiCaprio. That’s probably too quick of a response, but I’ve always really liked his work and his choices. Oddly enough, I don’t see it, but a lot of people say I remind them of a young Leo. I don’t see it, but I’ll take the compliment.
He started out in a sitcom like I did, you know he started out with Growing Pains, and I think that the choices he’s made as an actor creatively and professionally navigating those uncharted waters, just trying to figure everything out, I think he’s done a really good job of it. He’s gone all across the board with the characters and the movies that he’s done, and I find that really respectful. That’s probably the guy I would want to work with just to sit him down and pick his brain a little bit.
Moderator Can you compare working with ABC Family and Disney Channel?
Sterling Well, they’re in the same building, but on different floors. That’s fun; I know exactly where I’m going when I have a meeting. But I think they’re pretty similar; they run a tight ship in regards to how they do their shows and the network’s interest level in the production. But, obviously, we get to say a little more on ABC Family, which is always exciting. But I think it’s fairly similar, other than the sexy jokes and some of the content’s a little different.
But I think it’s a nice step for me personally. I think Melissa & Joey’s been great. I love working there, and it is a natural progression for my fans. But they’re getting older, it’s been a couple years since the Disney stuff, and I think the content is age appropriate for that late teen, early 20s demographic. Yes, it’s been great.
Moderator If Disney Channel would bring back So Random or Sonny with a Chance would you go for a reunion?
Sterling Yes, I’d love to do a reunion show, get the whole gang back together and go make some laughs. I think that would be really fun. So, yes, I’m down!
Moderator How familiar were you with Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence as actors on notable shows in the 80’s and 90’s?
Sterling It was actually pretty funny. I’m usually not very star struck or get nervous or anything like that, but I grew up on Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Drive Me Crazy. And then Joey’s stuff, I watched Brotherly Love religiously, which was his show with Matt and Andy on the Disney Channel, and all those Disney movies that all the Lawrence brothers did.
So I was actually very nervous to be on set, you know I grew up watching these guys. They couldn’t be nicer people and nicer co-stars. They’re very welcoming and very professional. Obviously they both know what they’re doing, been doing it for long enough. So it’s been a real blessing to work with them. They’re just good people.
Moderator Can you recall the very first moment that you went on set and filmed a scene with them?
Sterling Absolutely. I just remember it was so nice having Taylor there, because I could pull her aside and go, “Ah, oh my God, that’s, oh it’s Melissa Joan Hart.” And she’s like, “Calm down” so Taylor was a really helpful friend to have there to calm me down as we’re rehearsing and I’m getting to know everybody. It’s tricky when you’re a recurring character coming in for the first time; you’re a guest in their house, and you have to navigate those waters carefully. But they’re fantastic, so my nerves were for nothing.
Moderator How do you feel about Mel and Joe dating on the show?
Sterling I love it! I especially love it because I know that they’re not attracted to each other at all on camera, so it’s kind of funny to have to watch them go, “I don’t want to kiss you. Uh. Okay” [laughs].
I know a lot of the times with these shows where it’s two people that you really want to get together – when they finally do a lot that magic and tension is gone, but I think that both Melissa and Joey have done a really great job keeping that chemistry there. That banter keeps everyone interested. I think that’s the best part of the show, their banter together.
Moderator What is it like on set since you’ve done both television and film?
Sterling I’m going to go ahead and say a multi-camera sitcom is pretty much the best job in the entertainment industry; it’s as close to 9-to-5 as you can get, it’s Monday through Friday, and you can have a social life outside of work, which is nice. And movies is shooting six days a week, sometimes fourteen hours, sixteen hours a day, and I love that.
So they’re both very different and they’re both challenging for different reasons. I’m just weird enough to enjoy being covered in my own blood and mud and climbing through the swamps of Louisiana for sixteen hours a day, and put me in a nice, cushy soundstage for a couple hours to rehearse. I’m good either way!
Moderator Which country would you like to visit?
Sterling A couple years ago I went to Australia and New Zealand and I had the time of my life, so I would love to go back there again. But places that I haven’t been — probably Japan or England, and England would probably be easier to navigate seeing as we speak close to the same language.
Moderator What is your favorite food?
Sterling My favorite food is actually escargot, as weird as that sounds, and that’s only because I never get to have it. That’s always just a nice, special thing that I get to have every once in a while.
But my favorite food that I actually get to eat more often than not is just a good steak. I’m a Texas boy, so you get me a good steak and some veggies, and I’m good.
Images: (ABC FAMILY/Bruce Birmelin)
TAYLOR SPREITLER, STERLING KNIGHT, MELISSA JOAN HART
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