To mark the release of Men, Women and Children we had the pleasure of discussing the Jason Reitman drama with one of its leading stars, Judy Greer.
Given the satirical edge of the picture, we spoke about her own thoughts on social media, what attracted her to this project – and such a complex character – and she also tells us about her forthcoming blockbuster endeavours such as Ant-Man, while exclusively revealing who she’ll be playing in the forthcoming Marvel blockbuster.
There were a handful of reasons I wanted to be in the movie and that was one of them. I’m a few years in to being a step-mother of teenagers and I’m fascinated by the way they communicate now and how different it is to when I was growing up and when I was a teenager. Also, I’m fascinated by how easy it’s been for people I know to take on that form of communication. It seems like everyone is embracing it, even my mother, who is 70, freaks out if her iPad isn’t working properly – it’s fascinating to me. I love that aspect of the story and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to be in the movie.
Sounds like perhaps you’re not as addicted to your phone or social media…
Well I wouldn’t go that far, if my husband reads this article he’d be like ‘liar!’ I would definitely say I’m not as addicted to social media, but I am definitely addicted to my phone. I have never enjoyed talking on the phone so when texting came about it was great, I could communicate with my friends and not have to call them, awesome. I also really love Pinterest and I’m on that a lot.
Does that detachment from social media come from being cautious about this world that exists online? It can be quite a dangerous place…
Yeah I am cautious and I think that a lot of my private thoughts and feelings and opinions on things are for my friends and family only. I don’t pretend that because I have some amount of followers that I’m qualified to talk about politics, or religion or social views. I can certainly share what I feel but then I wonder, who cares? Who cares if I’m pro-choice? I dunno, that’s where I’m a little bit surprised at how people use their social media and push their own agenda. I’m like, you’re just an actor. Sometimes I’m surprised by the opinions that are shared and I don’t think people really think it through. You can throw out this tweet that you think is cleverly written and funny, but it can hurtful or misconstrued or come back to bite you in the ass. I heard a story about some actress who said she got bed bugs in this hotel she was staying in, and the hotel threatened to sue her because she tweeted it. I was like, see, you can’t just go around doing that. This stuff is real, it has an effect. Maybe I’m just too mid-Western and care what people think, but if I had a bad cheeseburger at a restaurant I’m not gonna tweet about it because I don’t want the restaurant to get shit for it. You know what I’m saying?
Going back to the fact you have teenage step-kids – they must have been a great research tool for this project?
Yeah it was. My step-kids are older than most of the other actor’s kids, who are mostly 10 and under. So the other actors didn’t have a real experience with it. But I’ve gone on Instagram and seen pictures of my step-daughter and all of her girlfriends on the beach in their bikinis and I’m just cringing, like oh my God you guys, you can’t post this stuff. So it was easy research, put it that way!
Your character is one of the hardest to figure out, and she’s got quite unethical motives… Was she a tough character to connect with?
Yeah I had a harder time with her than any other character I’ve ever played. In a lot of ways it was easier because Jason Reitman is such an amazing director and I trusted him so much, but to play a character like this with most other directors, I don’t know if I would have done it. It was tricky and I didn’t want her to just be a monster. I need to find some compassion for every character I play so it was important for me that she have some discerning qualities, but Jason helped me so much and I don’t know how easy it would have been to do this for another director who doesn’t care so much about her as well.
Do you prefer playing roles of people who are less like yourself?
Yeah I do, but I feel like the second I get a part I start to figure out ways I am most like that person so it’s easier for me, it’s easier to act like myself. So I think about which parts of me most relate to this person. While I would never make a website featuring my daughter in a bikini, I can still relate to wanting anything for my daughter and have her dreams come true. So I can tap into that, so that’s what I try to focus on, to make sure my kid gets everything she wants and I’ll stop at nothing to do it. That’s easier for me to focus on than, ‘I’m gonna put up dirty pictures of my kid’.
But you’re nothing like Jennifer Garner’s character in the movie?
[Laughs] I wish, I just don’t have that time. I remember thinking that when I read the book, I was like, who has the time? If I was a stay at home mum, but man, I don’t know how to use computers that well. The way she is wiping the discs and checking things and putting drives in… I must sound archaic but I wouldn’t know how to do it. I also have to say that I’m a little bit spoilt because my step-kids mum is an actual police person, so I let her cover that area. She can just enter someone’s name and find out about them so it’s much easier for her, I’ll let her handle it.
My favourite aspect of the movie is this idea that adults are as naïve and unwise to love and relationships as their teenage children are, despite the fact we perceive ourselves to be more mature. Is that something you agree with?
Yes, that was definitely one of the reasons I chose to do this film. I really liked how they weren’t just pointing the finger at kids. I think kids in this day and age get such a bad rap, like, ‘you’re always on your phone’, but you know, we are too, and we’re being just as naughty on the internet. It’s just as bad doing it when you’re a grown-up to when you’re 15 or 16 years old. And certainly for us it can be a lot more damaging too in many ways. So yeah I liked that, I liked that this wasn’t just ‘kids are terrible, what are we going to do with this generation!’ but the parents are all kinds of fucked up too.
You’ve become this huge blockbuster star, not just your role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World…
Thank you saying that. Please, do go ahead.
It must be such an exciting time for you. And not to disregard anything you’ve done previously, but this feel almost like the quiet before the storm?
Your question is a real compliment, and thank you for that, but I feel like I’ve had a lot of these moments in the past and I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. I would love for what you said to be true, that would be awesome, not because ‘oh I’m a big movie star’, it would be awesome because I would have access to greater roles and greater people to work with that inspire me, which is the overall goal of mine. But I also have to temper my expectations because at this point in my career I’ve had some great moments so I just keep treckin’ along, man, it’s all good. Until the movie is out, and you’re watching it at its opening weekend, you just never know and I try not to plan on anything. Just keep moving forwards.
Is there one you’re most excited about being released?
Well, I can’t completely pick one, but I do have to say that I’m still shooting Ant-Man and I am having so much fun with Paul Rudd, Bobby Cannavale and Peyton Reed. Those guys are so fun to hang out, and I’m excited about that one. I’m excited to see Paul Rudd as a superhero.
Such good casting.
Hats off to Marvel. Way to go, you’ve nailed it this time. Because he is such a peach and he is so funny and he’s working his ass for this role and I can’t wait to see it.
Marvel are taking over cinema at the moment, it must be exciting to be a part of that?
It really is, and the energy is so electric on set. After Guardians, which I loved, and I’m friends with James Gunn and I’m so happy he did that movie and killed it, everyone is in such a good mood at work.
Are you able to discuss your character in Ant-Man at all?
I’m Paul Rudd’s estranged ex-wife. We have a daughter together and our relationship is, well, estranged, but I feel like my character is still rooting for him to succeed. I guess that’s about as much as I can say. They gave us all these papers of things we’re allowed to say and things we’re not allowed to say, and I left them in Atlanta. Sorry! [Laughs]
So finally, is your intention in the future to mix between the big blockbusters and the smaller, independent flicks, and do you think the two compliment the other?
Yeah that would be the ideal career for me, if I could do both. Because there’s financial reasons I probably don’t even have to mention, but also the quality of work, the type of characters I get asked to play in independent movies I never get asked to play in big blockbusters, so for me it’s really rewarding because I get the best of both worlds. I get to be in these big movies and work with these amazing people and have that experience on set and be really spoilt if I’m being honest. Then I get to play these nuanced, complicated characters and sit on the folding chair in the corner and wear my own clothes, and that’s so fun too. It’s fun to work with the crew on the smaller movies too, because you’re working with people who are going to be the next Scorsese’s and the next Roger Deakins, and to be in their first movie is such an honour.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you, stay warm and have a good night’s sleep.
Men, Women and Children is released on December 5th.