Interview: Judy Greer Details On Oscar Nominated ‘Descendants’ Film, Confirms Our Admiration For Her

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Judy Greer is that kind of actress that anyone would be truly lucky to interview. Whether the conversation be about a current project, a past role or just to chat about working hard and just following through with something you love to do. Let’s just say I consider myself quite fortunate that I was able to speak with her and I wasn’t shy admitting it.

Greer has a memorable face because it’s probably quite difficult going through a whole week without seeing her somewhere on television. For me it was The Wedding Planner in 2001 as the quirky friend Penny that hooked me. Since then she’s moved on to appearing in 13 Going on 30, The Village, Elizabethtown, 27 Dresses, Love and Other Drugs and can currently be seen in the Oscar contenderThe Descendants. Not to mention her guest spots in some of the biggest small screen hits like Arrested Development, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men.

During our chat Judy revealed that she loves both television and film and searches for any kind of role. Recently she just struck a deal to star and executive produce a new ABC comedy pilot titled American Judy. Just signifying her role as a household name once again.

But enough of the girl crush moment–talking with Judy is simply the perfect way to end a day. We talked George Clooney, her passions besides acting and her scene-stealer ways. Not to mention–how L.A. really does have awful traffic.

Wow. Well, you are one of my favorite actresses and I know we only have a few minutes so I’ll get right to it.

Oh, you’re so sweet, thank you by the way.

You’re just great and your work in The Descendants shows that. What drew you to the film and your role Julie? 

Well, Alexander [Payne]. [Laughs] The script is amazing, the role is amazing but I would have done anything he was directing.

What’s it been like hearing all of this Oscar buzz for it?

It’s really exciting! I agree with it and I’m excited to be part of the movie and to be doing this kind of press for a movie. It’s all new for me. It’s nice not to have to come and go, you know?

Absolutely. You can hold on to it for a bit longer. I was talking to Nick Krause on how the film is like an emotional roller coaster, up and down. What do you think audiences will take away from it?

That’s a really good question. I think it’s a movie about forgiveness. I feel like maybe audiences will take away really enjoying two hours of amazing film making or they’ll see something a little deeper in their own lives that could affect the choices they make in the future.

Would you consider yourself like your character? 

I think I’m kind of like all my characters I play. I bring a lot of myself to my roles. And in this situation, I felt like I was similar to Julie. Gosh, I don’t know off the top of my head but I felt like there was, like a I had a real sense of comfort when I was playing her. She wanted to have a nice, normal life and things got really turned around for her and she was trying to deal with it the best way she knew how.

You’re married to Matthew Lillard in the movie and there’s of course George Clooney. How was it working with them?

Well, working with George is always a pleasure because he is very fun, as I’m sure you’ve heard. He’s very professional and really compassionate and I’ve worked with him before he was a director. I wouldn’t say he’s changed since he’s been a director but he’s very conscious of the process, how every actor’s process is different and he’s really mindful of that when we’re doing scenes together. And working with Matthew Lillard, it was really a pleasure. He’s so positive and happy. I really think he’s a real artist. He cares so much about acting and about his work and that’s always inspiring when I work with people who love what they do. So many people are complainers!

Complainers?

Yeah! So many people just complain all the time!

I get what you mean! It’s especially kind of weird when people with great careers complain. It’s nice when people are appreciative of what they have.

Yeah I always think so too. I mean there are always things to complain about, but it’s amazing to me what people come up with.

[Laughs] What’s a specific scene in the film that you’re really proud of or you just enjoyed acting in the most?

I guess I felt that the scene on the beach was very simple and I liked how simple and easy that scene came together. The scene where George Clooney’s character talks to me for the first time. There was a lightness I felt when we were shooting it that I really loved. He’s asking me what I’m doing, if I live on the island. He’s trying to get information out of me but I don’t know that. I just think he’s a man talking to me on the beach. And I really like that scene because two different people are doing two different things. You know, I’m just chatting with the guy and he’s got a whole different agenda.

What’s one memory you would take away from set?

I remember one night when we were shooting the scene on the deck and it was raining intermittently, and it would rain and we would all go inside and sit in the house and hang out and talk and then it would stop so we would go back outside and keep shooting. I remember all of us sitting in the house together and hanging out and just chatting and talking about acting and life and I just remember it being really fun.

That’s nice!

Really! The company of actors.

You’re such a scene-stealer in every project you do. Some actors don’t like to be type casted but in every movie you seem to be somewhat of a comedic relief. What’s one of your favorite characters you’ve played?

Well I loved my role in The TV Set. That was the movie with Sigourney Weaver and David Duchovny that Jake Kasdan wrote and directed. I play David Duchovny’s manager who doesn’t know anything about Hollywood. I loved that whole job and I loved that character–just unapologetically misinformed and uneducated about what she does for a living. I also loved being Kitty Sanchez on Arrested Developmentbecause she is totally crazy. Like over the top crazy. So really with that role and that cast, anything goes.

You’ve done so many guest spots too like Modern Family. Is there a chance you’ll be back? 

I loved Modern Family.

You were so hilarious!

Ah so fun! I love Modern Family. I don’t know if I’ll be back—I would love to go back. I loved playing the weirdo lady on My Name is Earl. [Laughs] She was so weird and cool. Those are the two cools ones.

Because of the comedic roles, do you consider yourself funny?

Yeah I don’t know if I’m that funny in real life…but I certainly try to be! I try to make people laugh. My publicist is nodding her head. [Laughs]

You’ve worked with so many people, so many people have worked with you. Is there anyone else you hope to collaborate with?

I’d love to be directed by George Clooney and I’d love to be in Tom McCarthy’s next movie.

What’s three passions you have besides acting? 

I’m passionate about the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’m passionate about reading. And gosh, I guess food. I’m not a good cook but I really like eating. I would like to say something way cooler. [Laughs] I really like this place in downtown L.A. called Homeboy Industries. It’s amazing; it’s a gang rehabilitation program. I think it’s a really cool organization. It’s really special and I think there are so many great charities and foundations and organizations. I support a lot of them but this one is something that is making an impact on the actual place I live.

That’s awesome. I was just going to ask what you do on your downtime when not acting.

I drive around L.A. in traffic [Laughs].

What a pain! I know you did ballet years ago. When was the moment you knew you wanted to start acting?

It happened very organically for me my whole career, so it wasn’t until a few years after I started acting that I realized how scared I was that I wouldn’t be able to do it [ballet] forever. And I was like, “Wow I really love this, I really care about this. I want this to be the thing I do with my life.” It was cool because I wasn’t so very driven in the beginning I just felt, ‘Oh I need to get jobs so I can support myself.” And yeah, I guess I had some kind of Aha moment. I was like “Okay yeah, this is it.”

You seem so natural. Did you not have lessons?

Oh no, gosh I trained like crazy! Even then I was like, ‘Oh I could always go to grad school and do something else.’

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an actress?

I think about that all the time. If I had to quit acting now and do something else I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know! I don’t have a sense of what I’m good at anymore. I can’t really use computers and I think you have to use a computer for almost everything these days. So I don’t know.

Haha, okay. So one last question. You do both film and television. Are you always looking for the next project?

I search for everything. I’m still sort of a medium list. I’m still not partial. I like good projects and good people.

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