There are some actresses who are action heroines, ready to kick some a-s at a moment’s notice. There are others who are such incredible screamers, that they’re perennial victims. But then there’s that special breed of character that Judy Greer seems to be cornering the market on: The ex-wife.
Think about it. In Jurassic World, she’s Karen Mitchell, wife on the verge of divorce who, we think, may have her marriage saved by the fact that her kids almost got eaten by dinosaurs(?). In the Marvel Ant-Man films, she’s Maggie Lang, ex-wife to the titular character’s Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). And, on her soon-to-debut Showtime series Kidding, she’s playing Jim Carrey’s ex, too.
So what’s up with all that ex-ing around? “I am trying to figure out another way to introduce characters I play besides ‘wife of,’ or ‘ex-wife of,’ or ‘mom of,’ or ‘daughter of,’ but I suppose I’m just a good ex-wife,” she laughed during an exclusive new interview with Closer Weekly. “Like, I’m someone you’d want to have in your movie about your life where you’re, like, ‘Why would I want my wife in it when I can have my ex-wife in it?’ I guess it’s a compliment to my character. Maybe?”
While Judy wrestles with that one, there’s also the little fact that her career seems to be all over the place, but in the best possible way. For instance, the initial reason for this particular chat is her connection with the Hilton Garden Inn. She and celebrity chef Dan Churchill co-hosted an event for the chain where they unveiled a number of new menu items voted on by more than a quarter of a million people. These will be featured on the Hilton Garden Inn’s “Sophisticated Bites” menus nationwide. And for those who are curious, it includes Cherry Blossom (a handcrafted cocktail), Sticky Finger Ribs, and Mason Jar Chocolate Fudge Cake.
“I would love to say that it was all my idea, but, mostly,” she said, “I got involved with them because I stay at them so often. We started our partnership a year ago, and it felt like a brand I could really get behind, mostly because I literally always stay on Hilton properties. I was charmed, really, by their bar and their menu, because so many hotels that I have to stay in for work don’t have great food selections… to put it nicely.”
And, man, must she get a discount now. “I actually don’t,” Judy replied. “Unless you count the fact that I’ve earned a lot of points the past couple of years. With those I get tons of discounts, but so does everybody else.”
This October, Judy will go from snacking at the Hilton to co-starring in Halloween, which is a direct sequel to the 1978 original that made a star out of Jamie Lee Curtis. Conveniently ignoring the multitude of sequels that preceded this one, the film takes place 40 years after the first film and serial killer Michael Myers is back. So, in fact, is Jamie, reprising her role of Laurie Strode, with Judy playing her daughter, Karen. Directing is David Gordon Green, whose credits include Our Brand is Crisis, Stronger, and The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter.
“I was so excited to work with Jamie and David Gordon Green, that it really could’ve been any movie. But I thought it was such a cool decision on his part to take on this franchise, because it’s not what you would normally associate with him. What I like about the film is that it feels current, but without relying too much on modern day technology in terms of cell phones, computers, and that sort of thing. And I love the fact that instead of remaking the first film, this remakes the second one.”
Before we see her terrified, however, she’s in the aforementioned Kidding, playing the ex-wife of Jim Carrey’s kid’s TV host Mr. Pickles, who’s pretty much losing his mind in the aftermath of his family’s implosion. “I got that one through a good old-fashioned audition,” Judy explained. “It’s a situation where, when you hear the names Jim Carrey and [director] Michael Gondry, you’d be an idiot if you’re not willing to get in that room and try for it. I play Jill Pickerello, his estranged wife and mother of his children. In it, I’m going through the process of grieving for our deceased son and trying to figure out what my life is like without my husband, while trying to establish some autonomy and trying to figure out how to move on with that life after the loss of a child.”
A happier marriage, though with a more tragic ending, was the one between her and a chimpanzee named Caesar. It should be noted that she was a chimp, too, named Cornelia, and that she co-starred with Andy Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War For the Planet of the Apes. It was a part that required both of them to wear what’s called motion capture outfits so that they can be transformed from humans into apes for the final films.
“I loved acting opposite Andy Serkis so much,” Judy enthused. “He’s a genius, and I would perform with him in motion capture, hair, and makeup… I would do whatever it took to be on a set with him. He’s just fantastic, and my husband is a huge fan of Planet of the Apes, so I felt like it made his dreams come true.”
“But in acting in those films,” she continued, “you feel really vulnerable, because you don’t have hair, makeup, or wardrobe to hide behind. So the first day or two doing it, I just felt so stupid. But you just have to get over it, otherwise you’re going to give a crappy performance. You’re kind of a loser if you don’t give 150 percent, because if it’s lame, you can tell right away. I would say the only really hard thing about it are the little cameras that stick out from our heads, which sometimes bang into each other when you’re having an intimate moment or scene. You can’t laugh, even though the motion capture cameras are banging into each other.”
With an interview session that lasted just 10 minutes, the result is an accelerated conversation, but what comes out of such a talk is the fact that Judy Greer seems to be virtually everywhere. One can only hope that this sort of diversity is what she was seeking in the beginning.
“I’ve enjoyed all parts of my career,” she offered. “And I’m hoping, fingers crossed, that I will continue to. I mean, I get to work with amazing people, I get to work with amazing brands like the Hilton Garden Inn, or franchises like Planet of the Apes or the Marvel films, and even independent films — some of which are released, and some of which aren’t. I would say that, without really knowing it when I started out, this has been my dream. In the beginning, I just wanted to have health insurance. Who knew this was going to happen?”