The actor recounted one of her “worst days” ever in an episode of the “Pod Meets World” podcast released Monday, where she explained the backstory behind a bleary-eyed 1999 paparazzi photo from the premiere of “Drive Me Crazy” with Britney Spears.
“If you look at my eyes [in the photo], I’d been crying all evening,” Hart told hosts and fellow ’90s teen stars Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle and Rider Strong, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The day seemed stacked against Hart, as she went from early morning interviews to a messy movie premiere, all while coping with a fresh breakup from her boyfriend.
Things only got worse when she learned she’d been fired from “Scary Movie” while heading to the airport immediately after the screening. Deflated, Hart went to an after-party at Planet Hollywood to distract herself.
Melissa Joan Hart in New York City on April 2, 2019.
At the party, her lawyer gave her some chilling news, however.
“My lawyer shows up and goes, ‘You did a photo shoot for Maxim magazine?’” she said. “I’m like: ‘Yes, I did.’ They’re like, ‘Well, you’re being sued and fired from your show, so don’t talk to the press, don’t do anything.’”
Things escalated when she got a “phone call on my cell phone from my mother, my producer, who was like, ‘What did you do?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, whatever my publicist told me to do at the photo shoot. Like I did a photo shoot for Maxim! It’s Maxim, of course you’re gonna be in your underwear.’”
The star, then 23, was scantily clad for the October 1999 cover, which advertised images of “Sabrina, your favorite witch without a stitch” within.
Though her contract with Archie Comics stipulated she “would never play the character [Sabrina] naked,” she was able to skirt any trouble, seeing as she “had no control over what [Maxim] wrote on the cover” and was never totally nude during the shoot.
Hart was also able to smooth things over by writing an apology letter to the company.
“Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” told the story of a teenage girl who finds out she has magical powers while living with her two equally gifted aunts.
Hart led the ABC series for all seven seasons, debuting in 1996 and wrapping in 2003 after 163 episodes and three made-for-TV films.