Men, Women & Children: Judy Greer on Blockbusters
If you’ve watched a moving image on a screen in the last 15 years, there’s a really good chance Judy Greer was on it. The star of the Oscar hopeful Men, Women and Children has been a character actor for most of her career, and has over 95 credits on her IMDb resume. It’s led her to write a book titled I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star.
And it’s led her to the verge of superstardom: next year, Judy Greer is co-starring in Jurassic World, Tomorrowland, Marvel’s Ant-Man and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. So soon, everyone will know what they know her from.
CraveOnline got the luminous Judy Greer on the phone to talk all about her dark new turn in Men, Women and Children and playfully wheedle her for information about her upcoming blockbusters. She knows she’s not allowed to say much about them, but she does confirm that she doesn’t jump out of helicopters and that IMDb is dead wrong when it says she plays a “Park Visitor” in Jurassic World.
Men, Women and Children is now playing.
CraveOnline: You tend to play such lovely, sweet characters. When you got the script for Men, Women and Children was there a moment where you said, “I’m doing WHAT with my daughter?”
Judy Greer: Yeah. Totally. [Laughs.] When I had lunch with Jason [Reitman], we had lunch to talk about the movie, he was like… Because I had done a table read for the movie with him and Erin [Cressida Wilson], the co-writer of the script, and I had actually at the table read, six months prior or something, read the role Jennifer Garner played [in the film]. So when he had asked me to do the movie and we had lunch to talk about it, and he wanted me to play the other role, I was like, “Holy shit, dude. Everyone’s going to fucking hate me. That’s a really intense role and I think it’s going to be really controversial and provocative.” He of course was so lovely, and said, “That’s why I need you to play it.” Which was very sweet of him. It was such an honor because I know what a difficult role that is in the script, and I remember being at the table read and being like, “Oooh… creepy.” So yeah, it was a big deal I thought.
Had you talked to Jennifer Garner about the switch at all?
I’m going to say “yes” because we talked a lot about it, but I can’t remember specifically the conversation. But when we were shooting we had some overlap, thank god, in Austin so we would go back to the hotel together and talk about our day and stuff, and talk about what we went through that day. You know, you talk about work with your co-workers. Yeah, I’m sure I told her that.
Was preparing for this role extra intense because of the subject matter? Was it difficult to wrap your head around what your character was doing?
It was, yes. It was intense because I always find something, I find some compassion for the characters I play and I don’t often play characters that I disagree with. Luckily. Although I now find that kind of interesting. I try to find something about the character that I can hook into and that I can relate to so I can bring myself to the role. And that was a challenge, to figure out how I would justify this in my world. It’s not always my job to do that, by the way. It’s not like I necessarily have to figure out a way to justify this woman’s actions, because I wouldn’t do what she did, but I had to find a way to show that without judging her. Do you know what I’m saying? Kind of embody her and not comment on her in the movie. So that was difficult, making sure that she was a fully formed person and not my judgment of this person.
Was the explanation you came up with the one we hear in the film, that you just started innocently and then it got out of hand?
Yeah, I think it’s all in the script. I just needed to wrap my head around that. I have a teenage stepdaughter in real life, so it was just really hard for me to imagine doing that with her, you know? But I also see the kids, I follow her and her friends on Instagram, I see the kind of pictures that they post and it’s a pretty slippery slope, you know what I’m saying? They’re kids in Southern California and they’re going to the beach all the time and they’re posting pictures all the time of them in their bathing suits at the beach. You know what I’m saying. It’s weird!
Yeah, and it’s creepy.
It’s out there for everyone to see, and even though kids will say, “Well, I’m a private user,” it’s like, yeah, but anyone who asks you to follow you, you say “yes” to because for kids these days it’s all about how many followers and how many likes they get. So I sort of feel like I call kids out on that. “Yeah, you might be private, but have you ever said no to anybody? Ever?”
So do these issues the movie raises about the internet bother you in real life, or do you think this is just the way it’s going to be now?
Yeah, it does bother me. I mean, “yes” to both of your questions. It does bother me and I do believe that this is the way it is now. So I can be as bothered by it as I am but I also need to find a way to live with it and deal with it and figure out how to manage it in my own life, but also how to keep an eye on my step kids and my friends’ kids while they’re growing up, and technology is becoming more and more advanced and our privacy is becoming more and more compromised.
You wrote a book called…
I did! I wrote a book!
You did! And it’s called I Don’t Know What You Know Me From, which I thought was really cute.
Oh, thank you!
I’m wondering, after next year are you going to have to write a follow-up called, You Know Me From Jurassic World and Ant-Man?
[Laughs.] Well, I haven’t seen the finished product of either movie so it’s probably possible that I’m cut out. I never like to say until I’m sitting in the theater, but no, it’s possible. I was joking about that title as I started working on the first season of my new TV show “Married” for FX, because I was like, “Okay, Now I Know What You Know Me From will be my second book.” But yeah, maybe. I don’t think though that the content of the book will necessarily change. I think for the most part, my book isn’t completely about that. I think there’s like one essay that kind of talks about that specifically, about being sort-of well known. So I think that it will maybe stand the test of time. [Laughs.] I don’t know. We’ll see.
You seem to be moving more into action movies and blockbusters lately. Was that something you wanted to do or was that just a coincidence?
It was something I wanted to do actually. It was a hope of mine. I expressed that interest to my agent and manager, and then they were like, “Cool. Here. Here’s a bunch of them then.” I was really lucky. I did audition for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, [which] was kind of the first huge blockbuster movie that I did. I auditioned for that and I auditioned for Tomorrowland and I auditioned for Ant-Man and Jurassic World, which was just such a wonderful little gift that kind of fell my lap. So I was definitely seeking out and trying to get these roles. They didn’t necessarily, which the exception of Jurassic World, just come right away. So I feel really lucky that I was putting myself out there and getting cast in them.
But I did sort of think and looking at my career was like, “Okay, now I’ve done this type of role. So now I want to do that kind of role. What haven’t I done yet? I haven’t been in a really big fuck-off blockbuster movie. Can I try to do that now?” That was kind of my thinking behind it, to see how different layers of movies are made. And I just finished a movie that was so small, such a small budget, with Natasha Lyonne called Fresno. That was the exact opposite of… I had just landed, driving home the airport, shooting scenes from Ant-Man and it was a giant movie, but I had left the set of Fresno which was the tiniest movie. To go to Ant-Man it was really funny. [Laughs.]
Do you get to have any big action sequences, jump out of a helicopter or anything like that in these upcoming films?
You know I can’t answer that question!
You could be non-specific about what film. It could be Fresno. They could have spent all the money on it.
I’m not near a helicopter on any movie. [Laughs.]
That’s too bad. I want to see you decked out in SWAT gear.
I would love that. In fact I think that may be my next fantasy job, will be something where I instigate some action. You know, when I have to fill out these physical forms for insurances, you have to fill out these physical forms and they’re like, “Will you be working on a helicopter or will you be riding in a helicopter during the filming of this production?” It’s always on every insurance form. I’m like, I feel like I should just never work with or in a helicopter because clearly this is an issue since it’s on every insurance form for every movie or TV show I’ve ever done.
I think the Twilight Zone movie ruined that.
Yeah, you think?
Yeah… I know you can’t tell me anything about it, but I did want to tell you because I thought it was funny, I was looking you up on IMDb and your character is currently listed as “Park Visitor.”
You’re listed as “Park Visitor” and I thought that was your character’s name for a second.
Oh my god, that’s not my character. Nor is it my character’s name. That’s so funny.
We’ll have stern words with IMDb about that.
Thank you. I would appreciate that.
You’re welcome. So you’ve been in so many movies and TV shows at this point. Are there any you don’t remember doing by now? Like, “I was in Marmaduke, really? Wow?”
Yeah… yeah… I do remember when someone tells [me]. If you told me the name of a movie I would remember being in it, but people have said, “Oh, were you in this movie?” And I was not in it, but I thought maybe I was. It’s that kind of feeling. “Maybe I was in that movie. Was I in that?” And then I’ll have to think. But I don’t forget movies I was actually in. I don’t know if that makes it any better, but…
What was the most unforgettable movie experience you’ve ever had, then? What was the movie, like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I did 13 Going on 30, Jesus Christ?”
Well, actually you bring up that film, but we kind of just had our ten year anniversary and it was really fun. The producers had a fun party. We all got together and hung out and celebrated the movie. We also keep in touch, and also Gary Winick, who sadly passed away since we made the movie, that’s something that… It was a long time ago and it still feels really fresh to me, and I still value the relationships I made on that movie and I really miss Gary, and I loved celebrating that film because of his memory. But ten years went away. I was like, “What the heck? Whoa…”
It seems like you should be celebrating the 13th anniversary of that as well.
I’m sure we will. I’ll find any reason to have a party with those people. They’re fun.
What do they do? Are they just great at charades? What sort of parties do they do?
Oh, it’s like a good delicious food and kind of boozy group. It’s a really fun time.