Location: Los Angeles, CA
Marital Status: Single
Education: American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York
Where are you from?
Olivia and Miles, both twelve.
I didn’t go to college. I’m a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and a member of The Actor’s Studio.
So you knew you wanted to be an actor early on?
When I was 14.
How did you break into the business?
During my second year of the American Academy, a manager who was very reputable saw me in a play and took me as a client. Then I got my big chance when I was 21 in a Paul Mazursky film called Harry and Tonto. The movie co-starred Art Carney, who won an Oscar for his role, and Ellen Burstyn won the Oscar that same year for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Being in a movie with the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar winners was a really big deal.
How did you go from acting to directing?
On thirtysomething, I directed two episodes. And when we got canceled after four years, I started getting a lot of directing work. I still did acting, but it seemed like the everyday money was from directing. So in an odd, terrific way, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, who had created thirtysomething, gave me this other career.
After thirtysomething, it was difficult for some of us to get acting parts because we were so well-known as those characters. Tim Busfield, Ken Olin and Polly Draper – we all wound up making money directing because of that. And before you know it, you have another career going.
So it’s like directing chose you.
I was on a set for four years where the creators were filmmakers. So I learned a lot being there and watching them. Because I love photography, I always hung out by cameramen and I watched them set up shop. A lot of wonderful actors make really swell directors, because they’ve been on both sides.
What’s it like being so known for a certain role?
The thing about thirtysomething is that by the end of that first year when we won the People’s Choice Award and the Golden Globe, it was like Glee or Mad Men this year. For four years, I experienced what all those actors have now.
If someone came to you today with a proposal for “Fiftysomething,” would you do it?
If Ed and Marshall brought all of us back, I think everybody would do it. I think it would be amazing.
Are you directing anything right now?
On February 13, I’m going to Charleston, South Carolina to direct an episode of Army Wives. In March and April, I’m directing an internet series for Michael Eisner’s new production company, Vuguru.
What is a typical weekday like for you?
I guess the typical weekday is when I’m not directing. Because when I’m directing, I’m going to a set and working all day on a TV or film job.
I get up, feed the kids, drive them to school, come back, work on a script I’ve been writing with a partner, then work half the day on Mayron’s Goods. And then make dinner, or deal with dinner, and homework.
Are you acting now?
I was on Lipstick Jungle; I did a part in Criminal Minds. I’ve guest-acted in some stuff. I didn’t have agents for a few years, but I just got them again, and they’re sending me stuff so hopefully I’ll start showing up again.
Meanwhile, the directing is certainly paying the bills and it’s helping me launch Mayron’s Goods.
Tell us about Mayron’s Goods.
My dad, who’s 83, is a pharmaceutical chemist; he’s got a patent for the time release tablet. My sister has a line called Jao that she’s worked on with him. They’ve been doing products for years. I was jealous of their relationship, and I was trying to get pregnant, so I wanted to do a baby line. I said, “Can we do a diaper cream?”
Was it ready in time for your own kids?
Not quite. It took us about ten years. First he had a chemist helping him from Lancome, and then I saw this trend towards natural organics, so we changed the formula to go that way. And I wanted it to not look like anything out there, so I was developing the artwork and the look of the package while dad was doing the creams and sending them to me. We went back and forth, and finally I got the money to manufacture the diaper cream, and we put that out two and a half years ago. By this past spring, we had developed all the other formulas and products, and we launched the full line at the beginning of summer. So we’re still pretty spankin’ brand new!
Which is your best-selling product?
The chap stuff; it’s amazing. It can be for dry elbows, lips, cheeks, cold weather, desert weather—it’s just a great product. That’s kind of been flying out of here, which is really cool.
Has this business gotten you closer to your dad?
Yes. We’re talking like work partners, which is great.
Who inspires you?
My friend Cindy Mort. She’s a real workaholic. She works on things that move her. She wrote the movie The Brave One and the series Tell Me You Love Me on HBO. She’s just got a great work ethic; it’s inspiring.
Great book you’d recommend?
I love historical novels. I loved Manhunt, I love Heyday. I thought they were fantastic.
Watching any TV currently?
I love Glee, I love Mad Men. I’m a CNN junkie.
How about a great movie?
The Mighty. I just watched that with my kids. That blew my mind. I loved True Grit.
The Mexican food here is really good.
Favorite place to shop?
Jennifer Thomas at Umberto.
Myself! I do design and renovate houses. (You can reach Melanie for this at her email, which we will give out to readers who request it.)
How do you rejuvenate?
I get a massage.