Melissa Joan Hart on directing her son Tucker in ‘Santa Bootcamp’

Directed by Melissa Joan Hart Bootcamp Santa. (Photo: John Russo/Lifetime)

By the time Melissa Joan Hart was 10, she was a seasoned actress, having appeared in commercials and on Broadway since she was 4. Now that her son is that age, she’s iffy if she wants him to continue into the profession.

But she allowed him to be a member of the cast of Conradh na Gaeilge Bootcamp Santathe new Lifetime movie she directed.

“He’s really talented in so many different ways. And he’s just a little crazy enough to be an actor, I think,” Hart tells Yahoo Entertainment. “But I’m not going to encourage that. I mean, I did in this case, because I think he was the best person for the job, and I thought it would be fun to work with him. But it was knowing he could draw I would never have forced my child into that position if I didn’t think he had the talent to do it. But he wanted to do it, and he was good at it. And it looked natural.”

Still, Hart insists she won’t be a mom or whatever you want to call it.

“However, I’m not going to take that kid to auditions, and be like a stage mom, pulling him around and studying lines. You know? Fighting him to audition and then brought to sets,” she says. “Like, if he wants to do it after college, that’s fine.”

She has mixed feelings about it.

“I will say this: Being a child actor, it’s interesting because what you really succeed in is that you learn to say no well. Which, I really don’t want that for my child , that it would always have to be rejected,” says Hart. “But it teaches you something. It teaches you work ethic. It teaches you not to take people’s opinions too seriously, it will damage your ego. It will damage your self-confidence if you let it.”

Hart received confirmation that her son has something special when her leading lady in the film, no less than EGOT winner Rita Moreno, told her so. Tucker was enamored with Moreno anyway.

Hart remembered a fixed moment when her son was “being a complete diva” until he found out that he could not have what he wanted because he was not coming into the schedule “Miss Rita.” Then it was good with him.

“She was just beautiful to him,” says Hart. “She texts me all the time… And she texts me, like, ‘Say hi to my Thucker for me.’

Rita Moreno stars, right, alongside Emily Kinney i

Rita Moreno stars, right, alongside Emily Kinney i Bootcamp Santa. (Photo: Life)

In addition to working with her son and Moreno, Bootcamp Santa it was an opportunity for Hart to work with her friend — and former co-star — Melissa Jaret Winokur, and Emily Kinney (The walking dead), Justin Gaston and the Backstreet Boys, who contributed a song to the soundtrack. The premise is that Kinney’s character, an event planner named Emily, is hired to throw an elaborate Christmas extravaganza, so she visits a bootcamp for Santas run by the larger-than-life Belle Moreno. And, if you watch Christmas movies regularly, you already know that she spends the film falling in love – thanks to Belle – and falling in love, with Gaston’s Aiden.

“He has so much heart to him,” says the actor-director. “But also a nice amount of comedy, which is really important to me. You know, a lot of these are full of heart and full of romance, and this one, I love that the main story is really between the women, and the romance is definitely blossoming, and we have a lot of great scenes about that.”

Hart, who has appeared in many Christmas movies over the years, thought the Bootcamp Santa the story was a little different than the others out there. The script had been floating around for a few years, she says, aimed at a particular deaf actor, so when Hart got it, it included a storyline involving American Sign Language. The “magical element” is a nod to sight Miracle on 34th Street.

After all, in addition to starring in and directing holiday projects, Hart is a fan of all things Christmas. She started celebrating this year just after Halloween, and some of her cards have already been addressed, although she will hold off on sending them until December 1st.

“Because I do these Christmas movies, and they’re usually in the summer, I’m always in Christmas mode, like, I’m always ready for it,” says Hart. “The music is always in my head, the decorations are always nearby. The only thing I can’t find is my Christmas jewelry, but I think I donated it to all the movies, yes it’s in the wardrobe somewhere.”

Bootcamp Santa premieres Saturday, November 19 at 8 pm on Lifetime.

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