Life as a teenage witch wasn't always magical for Melissa Joan Hart.
During a recent podcast appearance, the actress looked back on the time she was nearly "sued and fired" from her starring role on the '90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch after posing in her underwear for a Maxim magazine photo shoot, calling it "the worst day of my life."
Hart, 47, recounted the ordeal on the Boy Meets World rewatch podcast Pod Meets World. When hosts Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle, and Rider Strong referred to a photo of Hart posing with Britney Spears at the premiere of the 1999 teen rom-com Drive Me Crazy, Hart explained that she wasn't as smiley as she seemed: "If you look at my eyes, I'd been crying all evening."
Evan Agostini/Getty Melissa Joan Hart and Britney Spears at the 'Drive Me Crazy' premiere
The evening had gotten off to a heartbreaking start because Hart was on the verge of ending a romance. "I was breaking up with a boy that night because I decided I no longer wanted a relationship with him," she recalled. She added that she had been "up since 4 a.m." doing press, and when she finally arrived at the premiere, she wasn't allowed to leave her car until Spears appeared.
"I had to wait on the red carpet," Hart said. "They wanted me to wait in my car for, like, an hour for Britney to show up so we could do photos together. And I was like, 'Can I just go, start doing the press?' But nope, 'You've got to wait for Britney.'"
Once the photos were taken and the movie began, Hart was "whisked away to a limo" because she was supposed to go shoot the horror spoof 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. "And I was put in a limo, and I was taken away, and I had just broken up with my boyfriend while we were in the movie, and I'm crying and I'm upset."
Viacom Productions/Courtesy Everett Melissa Joan Hart on 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch'
But before Hart made it to the airport, she got a call saying she'd been dropped from Scary Movie and should head to a Planet Hollywood after-party instead. That's when the night got really bad.
"While I'm at the party, my lawyer shows up and goes, 'You did a photo shoot for Maxim magazine?'" Hart 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.'"
She continued, "So I get 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. I did a photo shoot for Maxim! It's Maxim, of course you're gonna be in your underwear."
Hart said her near-firing was spurred by the Maxim cover line, which read, "Sabrina, your favorite witch without a stitch." She was accused of being in violation of her Archie Comics contract, which stated that she "would never play the character naked." But Hart said they "had no ground to stand on," and after penning an apology letter, she was in the clear.
(In a statement to Variety, an Archie Comics spokesperson said the company "knows nothing and has heard nothing about this, and it was decades before the current administration at Archie. It's ancient history.")
Still, that resolution was weeks away, and in the moment Hart assumed the worst. After the Drive Me Crazy premiere let out, she mourned her seemingly lost sitcom in her father's arms.
"He comes up to me and goes, 'You okay?' I was like, 'No,'" Hart said. "And he hugs me, and I was crying even harder because my dad is hugging me, I'm being fired from my show, I was just fired from the movie, and I just broke up with my boyfriend."
There was at least one bright side to her terrible day, according to Hart: The buzz surrounding her photo shoot boosted interest in Drive Me Crazy.
Listen to Hart's full podcast interview above.
[This article has been updated with a statement from Archie Comics.]
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