PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUSTIN TYLER CLOSE
STYLING BY KARLA WELCH
ASSISTED BY ERICA CLOUD
HAIR BY GREGORY RUSSELL
MAKEUP BY STEPHEN SOLLITTO
THANKS TO PETIT ERMITAGE HOTEL, LOS ANGELES
There aren’t many actresses who can hilariously expose themselves to Jason Bateman on TV and turn up in an Oscar-nominated picture alongside George Clooney a few years later with seamless aplomb. Most recently appearing in Alexander Payne’s delightful awards darling The Descendants, Judy Greer’s a hot Hollywood commodity – a glamorous girl-next-door who plays funny ladies who feel real. It’s an effortless balance that’s built in to the LA-based actress’ performing instincts: “I think it’s written in the script,” she said, “and that’s why it comes easily to me… but I like to ground my characters. I really try to do that.”
It’s not hard to see why casting directors would jump at the chance to place Greer in the role of that oh-so-funny best friend – affable, warm and hilarious in reality, she’s built her career on memorable supporting characters in The Wedding Planner, What Women Want, 13 Going on 30 and 27 Dresses, but the part that she is still most recognized for is serial-flasher and adulteress secretary Kitty Sanchez on Fox favorite Arrested Development. “I get stopped all the time by Arrested Development fans,” she said. “I was recently shooting my web series [Reluctantly Healthy] at a supermarket in Los Angeles, and Jason Bateman happened to walk in, so we talked for a while. After he left, a guy stopped me and he was so excited. He kept asking me, ‘Are you shooting Arrested Development?’ He was freaking out and I thought it was so funny. I told him it was just a coincidence, poor guy.”
Funny best friends are not Greer’s only forte. This year she can be seen starring in Jeff, Who Lives at Home as Ed Helms’ frustrated wife and in the Gerard Butler comedyPlaying the Field holding her own alongside Catherine Zeta Jones, Jessica Biel and Uma Thurman. And then there’s her recurring stint on Two and a Half Men as Walden Schmidt’s [Ashton Kutcher] ex-wife. Maintaining a ‘willingly healthy’ balance between film and TV work – “ABC just green-lit my TV pilot, so I’ll be shooting that, which I’m so excited about,” – her experience in the industry has made her resilient, although not completely impenetrable.
“I worked with a very famous costume designer early in my career and she was kind of mean to me,” she recalled. “After my fitting with her, I cried because I’m a big cry baby. I worked with her a second time many years later and I really had to gear up for it. I thought, ‘I have more experience, she can’t hurt me again.’ And I walk into the fitting and she said, ‘Oh my God, it’s you! I never thought you would work again.’ I left and cried again. I guess that taught me to toughen up, I take things less personally at work now.”
That thickening skin also translates to her body of work and she remains proud of underrated projects like 2008 comedy series Miss Guided where she played a high school guidance counsellor still dealing with issues from her own nerdy teenage years. “The role was perfect for me, and the show itself was so smart and funny,” she said. “I feel like today it would have been a success… it was more of a timing thing.” She’s also realistic about shows getting cancelled, like 2011 four-hander sitcom Mad Love. “It’s frustrating not to be able to work with people who I have enjoyed working with, once a show gets cancelled,” she said of co-stars Jason Biggs, Sarah Chalke, and Tyler Labine. “That was the harder pill to swallow – that I didn’t get to go to work with my friends every day anymore.”
The importance of friendship is something that resonates throughout Greer’s work and in her own life. Too modest to answer The Lab’s question about what kind of best friend Judy Greer makes, she passed the buck to her own BFF who told us, “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have Judy by my side. Not only is she hysterical and so much fun to be around, but she’s great at listening and giving advice, and would drop everything to be at your side if you needed her.” It’s no surprise the easy-going Greer is the success she is: no box office rom-com character or real-world woman could ask for more.