Melissa Joan Hart Just Opened Up About Almost Being Fired From "Sabrina" And Sued After She Posed In Her Underwear For Maxim Magazine

Melissa was accused of breaching her contract by playing the character of Sabrina the Teenage Witch naked on the cover of a men's magazine.

Melissa Joan Hart was just 4 years old when she first started acting, and got her breakthrough role at 15 as the titular character in Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All.

Melissa Joan Hart with a costar in Clarissa Explains It All

The show was a huge success, but it was Melissa's subsequent series Sabrina the Teenage Witch that really secured her spot as a household name. The show was based on an Archie Comics story.

Sabrina and Salem pose together as they sit on the floor

Melissa was 20 when she was cast as the iconic teen character in 1996, and it ran until 2003.

A closeup of Melissa when she was younger

At the height of the show's popularity, Melissa starred in the romantic comedy Drive Me Crazy, which was released in 1999.

And the star has now revealed that the New York premiere for this movie was the "worst day" of her life as she found out that she was being fired from Sabrina and sued while at the afterparty.

Melissa looking distressed in a scene from Drive Me Crazy

Speaking on Monday's episode of Pod Meets World, Melissa revealed that she faced huge repercussions from the TV show after she stripped off to pose for men's magazine Maxim to promote her film.

A closeup of Melissa when she was younger

In addition to the drama surrounding her Maxim cover, Melissa was also fired from her role in Scary Movie, and had broken up with her boyfriend on the day of the premiere.

Speaking to the podcast's hosts Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle, Melissa was asked for the backstory behind a photo of her and Britney Spears.

Britney and Melissa together

Britney's song "(You Drive Me) Crazy" was on the soundtrack for the film, and Melissa famously cameoed in the singer’s accompanying music video.

Melissa with Britney in the music video, (You Drive Me) Crazy

Upon seeing the photo, Melissa exclaimed: "I had been crying! If you look at my eyes, I had been crying all evening. This was one of the... At the time, I thought this was the worst day of my life."

Britney and Melissa in leather jackets at a promo event for Drive Me Crazy

The hosts were shocked by the revelation and asked their guest for more information, and Melissa was more than happy to divulge all.

"This was the Drive Me Crazy New York premiere, we'd already done the LA premiere," she began. "I was breaking up with a boy that night because I decided I no longer wanted a relationship with him so that was a little heartbreaking. I was with my family, we had done so much press, I had been up since 4 a.m."

A throwback closeup of Melissa

"They wanted me to wait in my car for, like, an hour for Britney to show up so we could do photos together," Melissa said as she continued to set the scene. "I was like: 'Can I just start doing the press?' but nope, you've got to wait for Britney. Then as soon as the movie started I was whisked away to a limo."

Britney and Melissa in leather jackets at Planet Hollywood

"I was supposed to go and shoot the movie Scary Movie in Vancouver. I was supposed to be the opening, vivacious, big-breasted one that's murdered or something in the beginning," she explained.

A more recent closeup of Melissa

"So I was put in a limo, taken away, and I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I'm crying and I'm upset,” she recalled. “My little brother was there, and I remember just being like: 'I never get to see him’ and I got to spend, like, 10 minutes with him and had to leave my family."

Melissa with her brother

"I get a call in the limo," Melissa added. "They're like: 'You've been fired from the movie, you can go back to your party,' because there was a party at Planet Hollywood."

Melissa did not explain why she was fired from Scary Movie, but her night was about to go from bad to worse.

"That picture was taken," Melissa said in reference to the photo of her and Britney. "And my lawyer shows up and goes: 'You did a photoshoot for Maxim magazine?' 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.'"

Melissa in a throwback photo, taking a call on a cellphone

Melissa then received a call from her mom asking her what she'd done. "I'm like: 'I don't know, whatever my publicist told me to do on the red carpet or at the photoshoot!'" Melissa recalled. "I did a photoshoot for Maxim, it's Maxim, of course you're going to be in your underwear."

Melissa with her mom

"They're like: 'We're being fired from the show,' I'm like, oh my god, so I'm crying, then the movie gets out and everyone shows up," Melissa went on.

Melissa with her two costars from Sabrina the Teenage Witch

The star ended up going back to her hotel room with some friends and said that she "woke up in a rockstar moment the next day, like: 'What's going on in my life?'"

A throwback closeup of Melissa from that night

The podcast hosts were left speechless by Melissa's story, but when Will asked if that was the end of Sabrina, Melissa said that thankfully nothing came of the drama because the people who wanted to sue her "had no ground to stand on."

Melissa and Will when they were younger

Explaining exactly what had gone down, she shared: "What happened was the magazine wrote, 'Sabrina, your favorite witch without [a stitch]...' I'd never heard of someone being on the cover of a magazine and not using their name, they used Sabrina."

A closeup of Sabrina when she was younger

"In my Archie Comics contract, it said I would never play the character [of Sabrina] naked," Melissa then revealed. "So here they were thinking I'm in breach because I'm playing the character. No, that was supposed to be me promoting my movie, it wasn't supposed to be a character. I had no control over what they wrote on the cover."

Melissa as Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a black witch costume

"So I wrote an apology letter and it was all gone," Melissa concluded, before admitting that the scandal around her cover ended up being huge publicity for Drive Me Crazy as the situation was widely discussed on TV.

Breaking down the discourse, she summarized: "Can Melissa be sexy? She's 23, is she allowed to be sexy? What's going on here? Is it allowed? Is it OK? Why is she being fired from her show? And all the drama. It made for Drive Me Crazy to come out and be a huge success."

And while Melissa's Maxim cover thankfully didn't end up negatively impacting her TV career, the actor revealed last year that her younger brother was left "tortured" by the shoot, and that she turned down Playboy because of how it had affected her sibling and dad.

Melissa with her dad in a throwback photo from the time of the movie

The star opened up about the photoshoot during an appearance on the Unzipped podcast, where she noted that back in 1999, she didn't even consider the way that photos would be able to live on forever via the internet.

Melissa speaking on the Unzipped podcast

Melissa said: "I was asked to do the cover of Playboy, but I was like, no, because my little brother might see. I'd already done the cover of Maxim and I knew my dad and my brother had people coming up to them. My brother in high school, and my dad at work had people coming up to him, showing him my covers."

"Can you imagine if I was completely naked?!" she went on. "And thank god, because now I have three boys."

Melissa with her husband and three boys

Referencing her brother, Melissa added: "He was like: 'Thanks a lot. I'm seeing you in your underwear everywhere.'"

Although it was not discussed during Melissa's appearance on Pod Meets World, the show's host and former child star Danielle was also referred to by her famous character's name when she appeared on the cover of Maxim in 2013.

A closeup of Danielle, who played Topanga in Boy Meets World

Shortly before Boy Meets World's sequel series Girl Meets World premiered, Maxim used the headline "Hello, it's Topanga!" alongside Danielle's photos.

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