Grown Up Joey Lawrence Kept the 'Y' -- Here's Why
By Nicki Gostin Posted Jul 26th 2010 04:01PM
You can almost establish how old someone is by when they first laid eyes on Joey Lawrence. In the '80s, he was adorable Joey Donovan on 'Gimme a Break,' co-starring the late, great Nelle Carter. The following decade, he was long-haired teen heartthrob Joey Russo on 'Blossom.' A few years ago, he made America go "Whoa!" yet again when he placed third on 'Dancing With the Stars.' And next month he'll be starring opposite Melissa Joan Hart in the ABC Family sitcom 'Melissa & Joey.' Unsurprisingly, his character -- a male nanny or "manny" -- is also named Joey.
PopEater talked to the affable star about his new show, his enduring career and his rationale for sticking with Joey rather than changing it to the more mature Joe or Joseph.
So 'Melissa & Joey' exists because of a TV movie, right?
Exactly. Melissa and I did a movie together [2009's 'My Fake Fiance'] that did huge numbers and then we developed a TV show that sort of used the chemistry we had on the movie but obviously a completely different scenario. The network fell in love with the pilot, picked us up and we're on our way.
Joey Lawrence and his daughter Charli attend a birthday party for Melissa Joan Hart's son, Mason. The former teen stars have a new sitcom on ABC Family called ... 'Melissa & Joey.' More pics >>
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No. I'm not a big stock market guy, even though I'm a big free market fan. I've dabbled a little bit, but I'm kind of a much more financially conservative guy.
Isn't it nice that people adore you after all these years in the business?
For sure! I've been around for a long time. The cool thing is I'm only 34.
By Hollywood standards you're up around 100. I remember when you were a little guy with a bowl haircut.
Yeah, this is sort of my third career. When I was really little, a 5 to 8 year old, I was popular, then sort of extremely popular as a 16 to 22 year old and now I'm resurging again.
You never changed your name to Joe Lawrence, a la Ricky/Rick Schroder.
I never did that. I don't know why people do it. It just feels very forced and fake to me. It's like, "Okay, I'm grown up now, so I'm going to drop the 'y' from my name." If you're going to grow up then for God's sake just grow up.
You were a wildly-popular child star and (surprise!) no arrests.
I love what I do because of the work. It allows me to do it and it gives me financial freedom to take care of my family and my mom. I don't do it for the narcissistic reasons -- because I feel like I'm famous or I feel like I can get into a club without waiting in line. It's always been about the work for me. I feel lucky and blessed that I could make the kind of money I could make, doing what I love and having the opportunity to do it, especially when there are so many other people out there dying to do it. As long as you keep that perspective, you realize what it's all about.
When you were on 'Blossom' you must have had a million girls chasing you.
It was pretty crazy. We had autograph signings with 20,000 people. Literally, it's not me throwing out a number. They would be unclothing in front of your eyes and whistling your way. You'd get bras and panties thrown at you. Pretty incredible stuff.
Speaking of girls chasing you ... didn't you date Katherine Heigl?
Well, that was rumored. We hung out a bit.
She seems sort of, um, difficult. Am I right?
[Laughs] I haven't known her for a long time. She's getting a rap of late of being quite difficult. I can't confirm or refute that because I haven't spent a lot of time with her. But we were just kids back then. I didn't know her outside of hanging out. One-on-one she was cool.
You're Italian. Can you make a good pasta sauce?
Yeah, yeah of course! Though we call it gravy.
You have two kids with wife Chandie Yawn-Nelson. Are you a strict dad?
I am. I was taught by my grandfather [that] you don't want to be their best friends, you want to be their parent. Sometimes you have to do it with a heavy hand and they will learn to respect and appreciate that as they grow up. I'm a pretty strict dad.
'Melissa & Joey' debuts August 17 on ABC Family.
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