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Down-to-earth Judy Greer talks The Descendants

By Emma Rubenstein
On November 8, 2011

This past Thursday The DePaulia  had the privilege to sit down with talented actress and former DePaul student, Judy Greer. As I walked into her beautiful room at the Public Hotel in Chicago and shook her hand, I truly felt as if I was seeing an old friend again. She was so incredibly warm and welcoming, which is an impressive feat for someone who is seeing so much success so quickly.

Greer is best known for her hilarious and quirky roles in films such as 13 Going on 30, 27 Dresses, and the popular television show Arrested Development. She is currently traveling to promote her newest film The Descendants, starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne.

The Descendants is the touching tale of a man named Matt King (George Clooney) who lives with his family live in Hawaii. When King's wife is involved in a tragic boating accident, his life is thrown upside down. He is forced to build his relationship with his two daughters Scottie and Alexandra, while debating whether to sell the family's precious land. He also soon learns that his wife was having an affair before her death. From here, King is lead on a quirky and unexpected quest to find her lover.

In The Descendants Greer plays a woman named Julie Speer, the wronged wife of Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard) who is the lover of Matt King's wife. Though she only has a number of appearances throughout the film, in true Judy Greer fashion, she manages to steal the scene every time. She a versatile and witty actress and when asked whether she tries to purposely pick either dramatic or humorous roles, she replied with a chuckle,

"No, I just want to work with cool people."

Judy is incredibly down to earth and realistic, which makes her an enormously enjoyable person to talk to, as well as an incredibly genuine actress. When asked about her style of acting she replied,

"People usually know what they're getting when they cast me. I'm gonna bring a lightness or have a different take on it. I think I see the humor in horrible things and I see the horribleness in funny things. That's my personality, I don't act a lot."

In The Descendants and all of her other roles as well, Judy exhibits a kind of easy, intuitive understanding of the emotion she is portraying and the story she is telling. Her view on life is refreshing and honest. Judy discussed how The Descendants is a very grown up kind of movie, dealing with grown up problems. She said that she sees these kind of movies as "comedies for grown ups" because of how relatable they are for people who have experienced life. She told the others interviewers and myself,

"When you get older and you go through some s---, you have to find the humor in this stuff, otherwise wouldn't you just want to jump in front of a bus?"

It is by living and acting with this mentality that Judy shines in all of her films. She has the unique ability to turn the inevitable into something that is completely unexpected.

When I mentioned that I am a student at DePaul, Greer's eyes lit up. She is a graduate of DePaul's esteemed theater school and had an incredible experience. I asked her if she had any words of advice for the aspiring young actors at DePaul and in general. She beamed and replied,

"DePaul gave me the greatest education in acting. Practically speaking, save all of your money… Don't buy a stupid car. Be yourself, don't feel like you have to act so hard." She told me that the people you audition for "just want you to be you. "This view on acting is wonderful and refreshing and it is apparent that it is a motto she lives by when acting in her own films.

Judy said that working on The Descendants has been "a dream come true." She said she feels as if she could almost "be done now" because this working with director Alexander Payne is exactly what she has always wanted to do.

As a long time Judy Greer fan, I was absolutely ecstatic to meet her. After having the opportunity to speak to her I am now even more impressed by her as both an actress and a person. She is kind, engaging, incredibly talented, and her newest movie displays just how multi-faceted and genuine she truly is.

The Descendantswill open in Chicago on Friday, November 18th.

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