Judy Greer is a constant. Last year, she released a book, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From, based on the premise that she is eminently recognizable. While no scientific tests were conducted, it’s empirically true. If you’ve watched television or been to a movie at some point in the last 15 years, you know her face. To some she’s the best friend in romantic comedies like 13 Going on 30 and The Wedding Planner. She’s integral to adored properties like Archer and Arrested Development. She’s proved herself in artisanal movies like Jeff, Who Lives at Home and The Descendants. She welcomed Kevin Durant into her Sprint Framily Plan. And yet this sampling from her filmography barely speaks to the breadth and volume of her career. Greer has been a ubiquitous presence in Hollywood for more than a decade, seemingly picking projects with a perfect sense for what’s in the zeitgeist or just about to break out.
And she’s quietly everywhere this summer. She has already costarred in Jurassic World and made a cameo in Entourage, and, if you were listening very carefully, she can be heard in Tomorrowland. Her FX show, Married, returns for its second season tomorrow, and she plays Paul Rudd’s ex-wife in Ant-Man, which arrives on Friday. I spoke with her this week about her mammoth summer, the lengths her mother will travel to see her movies, being a hacking victim, and the inescapable Sprint commercials.
This summer is huge for you. You’re in Jurassic World, Ant-Man, and [just barely] Tomorrowland. Did you actively set out to appear in blockbuster movies?
Yes, I 100 percent did.
Oh wait, I was cut out of Tomorrowland, by the way.
No, it’s fine, honestly. The funny thing is that my role in Tomorrowland was so small, and they were very sweet. They called and said, “You know, in the final edit, your character didn’t really make the cut, yada yada … ” I was like, “Oh.” But they were like, “We feel so bad. We loved you. Brad Bird loved you. He wants to work with you again.” And I was like, “My role was kind of small, so it’s fine,” but you also don’t want to be like, “Oh, my part was so small, so who cares?” Because of course I cared.
At the same time, I was like, “I can’t imagine that in the scope of that film anyone would’ve totally noticed me anyway.” But apparently there is a little home movie place [in Tomorrowland] where you can hear my voice. I forgot to tell my mom that they cut out my role, so she drove like an hour and a half to the theater to see the movie and was so sweet. She was like, “Honey, you were great. I heard your voice and you were wonderful.” And I was like, “Oh mom.”
What a dedicated mom.
Well, I’m an only child. But I did do a cameo in Entourage, and, to go back to your original question, I did [seek out blockbusters]. I said a few years ago to my agent and manager, “I would like to maybe do some giant movies.” I had been doing a lot of very low-budget to medium-budget indies for a while. And I was like, “I would like to see what it’s like on the other side.” I started to audition for small roles in giant-budget movies, and I started getting them. It’s always interesting the way the ball bounces when things come out. Ant-Man, to me, seems like it came out very fast. Like, we shot that in the fall and maybe even winter a little bit. It came out so fast. So I’m thinking, OK. It’s the same with Jurassic World. Jurassic World we shot a year ago.
I’m just amazed at how fast they can do all of the special effects and everything. So I never thought everything would stack up this way. But it’s great. I just now am like, “Oh, I need something to come out next summer now.”
So I did kind of go after the bigger-budget movies, honestly, to see what it was like to work on them. And from my point of view, it’s just as chill and fun as the indies I do, just with more craft service.
Jurassic World and Ant-Man were both shrouded in secrecy. How much did you know about the roles before you agreed to them?
I got a complete script for both, but not before I auditioned. Once the deal was done and I was officially cast in both films, they sent me scripts. And the scripts are watermarked, and they have your name all over them, and it’s really stressful.
They sent out an email from Ant-Man months ago, and they were like, “Anyone on production who still has a script, please send it to this address or we’ll send a messenger to come and get it.” And I was like, “Shit. I must’ve turned my script in when I wrapped the movie in Georgia. I must’ve just handed it over.” Then I was cleaning out my closet, and there it was in like all these colors and my name on it. I was like, “Oh my god, what if somebody breaks in? … What if someone breaks into my house and then they steal my Ant-Man script and then I get sued by Marvel and blah blah blah?”
I also recently — I think I’ve handled the problem, thanks to the awesome computer man — was hacked. Some person was hacking into my email and my whole life — my iCloud and everything.
The first thing you do is call your credit card and call your bank and you’re like, “Ugh!” And I realized the second time it happened that no money was missing, they didn’t charge anything. They changed my password. I’ll get an email saying, “Did you try to log into your Gmail account from a Windows PC?” And then I’ll go to buy music on iTunes and my Apple ID won’t work; “Your password has changed.” I’m so boring; why would anyone care? Like, I don’t take nude pictures of my boobs or anything. They’re not stealing any money. I’m like, “Maybe they’re just trying to get my Jurassic World and Ant-Man scripts.” I wonder if they think I have them saved in some email box or something.
Do you have to report that to the studio or to a producer?
Well, maybe I just did, telling you.
It’s not like there’s anything to be discovered.
Yeah. But that stuff does make me nervous — whenever something’s so secret. And the fact that they can keep it a secret is like a miracle. I have a handful of friends and if somebody does something stupid, everyone knows in 20 minutes. I think if you’ve got a production like Jurassic World, where you’re employing thousands and thousands of people, and no one leaks the script, it’s kind of amazing.
Earlier in your career, you were in so many romantic comedies that were female-driven with female leads. These more recent movies, particularly these blockbusters, are male-driven. Are you conscious of a difference on set?
No, not really. [Laughs.] It’s always kind of the same, but in a good way. I think that’s a good answer. I wouldn’t want to be like, “Yeah, when it’s dudes there’s lots of chicks everywhere and hot dogs and stuff.”
I loved working with Paul and Bobby Cannavale and Peyton Reed. And I just think that the movie is so good and is so funny and it’s just going to be a really cool addition to the Marvel canon. And I’m really proud of it. I think Paul Rudd is an amazing superhero.
In addition to seeking out bigger movies, are there other criteria that you look for in a role now?
I’m probably now more interested in the people I’m working with. I’m looking to just sort of work with cool, interesting people — people I think I could learn from and people that kind of make it worth being away from my family.
I’ve done a lot of the mom-wife, like the weepy mom-wife, so I’m looking to maybe do the bitchy or strong or different fate of a mom-wife.
Lina from Married is definitely not weepy.
Yeah, no. I love her and I love how weird and tough she is.
What is it like to work on that show, particularly after coming back from these bigger movies?
It’s kind of like hanging out with your closest friends. That’s what Married feels like, because it’s so intimate and there’s nowhere for us to ever go except to hang out with each other. For 15 hours a day, it’s me and Nat Faxon [who plays her husband on the show]. Sometimes when we get lucky, Brett Gelman and Sarah Burns will be there. It’s very cool. It’s very family-like. We fight and bicker and complain and have to share a bathroom. I feel like we’re all at camp.
We’re all on location. We don’t have a stage. It can be a little bit more difficult for the crew sometimes, which I feel bad about. You know, when you have a stage you can take a wall out and you can set up more. On our location, we’re so packed in there. We can’t park our trucks out front, so there’s like a lot of vans circling. A lot of logistics. We don’t have any trailers to go to ever, so they rented us this Winnebago from the late ’80s, early ’90s that we can fit in. It’s like literally called the Jamboree, and it’s a motor home, like old-school.
That sounds fun, actually. That sounds like an actual camp.
It does, it totally does.
How did your Sprint commercial with Kevin Durant come about, and what was it like working with him?
Well, I’m about to burst your bubble, and I don’t know if you want that.
I never met Kevin Durant. Watch closely.
Yes. They shot us on separate days.
I’m so devastated.
So was my cousin Kevin, by the way. My cousin Kevin was like “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!” Then I was like, “Dude, didn’t even meet him.” And he was like, “Nooo!” Yeah, I was bummed too. Also because that gives me lots of street cred with my stepkid. He was like, “No way! You’re going to be in a commercial with Kevin Durant? That’s so awesome!” And then, you know, you say that you shot on different days and he’s like, “Oh, whatever then.” And you’re like, “Ugh, so hard to impress these children!”
Kids these days.
I know! I’m like, “Your dad married an actor. Isn’t that interesting at all? Don’t I get any extra points for that?” So, kids are kids.
I didn’t get to meet him, but I heard he was lovely. But to me, the bright side is that I had a shorter day than I probably would’ve had otherwise, so there! Lemonade.
Do people ever come up to you and do the Kitty: “Say goodbye to these, Michael”?
Yes they do, which is great. It’s my favorite thing. I’ll never get sick of Arrested Development fans ever, ever, ever. I threw out the first pitch at the Dodgers game the other day, and it was a super highlight. A.J. Ellis was my catcher — and he’s such a peach — and when we were walking back to the mound after my pitch, he was like, “Yeah, the guys in the dugout really love you because they love Arrested Development. We’re all huge Arrested Development fans.” And I was like, “Oh, cool, well tell them I said, ‘Say goodbye to these!’” But obviously I didn’t flash him because I was on the JumboTron. He laughed really hard. I was walking away thinking, Wow, now I’m the one who’s saying it.
Sometimes I can’t resist saying it to my husband. Like, we’re getting dressed in the bedroom together and I’m putting my shirt on. I’ll be like, “Hey, babe, say goodbye to these,” and then put my shirt on. I’m sorry that you even have to hear that.