JUDY GREER. The greatest supporting actress?
If actresses and actors who, despite their numerous appearances, are not recognized enough, formed their kingdom, JUDY GREER would undoubtedly be its queen. The accomplished actress, who has more than 160 entries in her portfolio on IMDb.com, has still not received the recognition she deserves, despite her extremely frequent appearances. And – I write this with pain – it does not seem that this is going to change anytime soon….
In 2022 alone, Judith Therese Evans, known as Judy Greer, has appeared in six acting productions,. Let’s add dubbing roles, including one of the main ones in the cult animated series Archer, in which Judy has played Cheryl Tunt since 2009. Voice work is one of Greer’s important branches, but it is primarily through dozens of supporting roles in films and TV series that she has earned the nickname “character actress.” To this day I remember how great an impression she made in one of her first major roles as Erin, the “documentary girl” in Nancy Meyers’ What Women Want (2000). There she played a jaded, depressed, unnoticed by anyone, young employee of the advertising agency where Mel Gibson’s character makes his career. Even there, in this rather sad and small role, she showed great acting talent and expressiveness, which allowed her to become “that funny girl from the background.”
Judy Greer first flashed in a supporting role, by the way, in Darren Stein’s Jawbreaker (1999), now a cult black comedy in the convention of high school movies. There, too, she played a hunky girl who undergoes an absolute (controlled) transformation and is able to stir up quite a lot. So why didn’t that role open the way for her to other leading roles already? This question still cannot be answered even by people much better versed in the industry. Judy Greer is almost the queen of the supporting cast, but on those rare occasions when someone decided to entrust her with a leading role – as in the case of Jamie Babbit’s black comedy Addicted to Fresno (2015) or the short-lived series Miss Guided (2008) – she was unable to save the poor source material even with her charismatic acting.
Over the years, Judy Greer has played almost every kind of stereotypical supporting character – the mean boss, the upstairs neighbor, the secretary, the one-night lover, and finally: the main character’s BFF. I read somewhere a very interesting comment on Judy Greer’s career: “she has played the BFF of almost every leading actress, from Jennifer Garner to J.Lo,” and yet, despite all the sympathy we have for the supporting female friends she creates, we are convinced that she should be the leading lady. Her heroines often have a personality for which there is a very apt term in English: “quirky,” meaning a little strange, a little eccentric, but almost always funny, likable, and certainly intriguing. At the same time, Judy is absolutely versatile – she has a great comedic flair, as evidenced, for example, by her role as Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development, but she also finds herself in independent cinema (The Descendants (2011) by Alexander Payne or Measure of a Man (2015) by Jim Loach), and when the opportunity arises to appear in a blockbuster, Greer will also manage (Jurassic World (2015), two parts of Halloween (2018, 2021)).
If you were hoping to know the answer to the question “why can’t Judy Greer break through to the foreground?” at the end of this text, I must sorely disappoint you. Neither I, nor American film critics, nor people in the industry know the answer to this question – just read any interview in which the question about Judy Greer is asked: all you can hear from everywhere is admiration. In fact, the answer to this question is not known to Judy herself, who has been asked it many times before – although it’s a tad tactless, Greer never got offended when hearing this question, she always answered “I don’t know, but it doesn’t bother me at all.” And while in most cases such a retort could be considered an insincere facade, in Judy’s case it sounds sincere and authentic. Because if there is ever an award anywhere for the most fantastic supporting roles in a career, the first winner will undoubtedly be Judy Greer. However, I hope that she will do without inventing new awards, and the heroine of this text will be able to put a completely unimaginative award above her mantelpiece – who knows, maybe even an Oscar? I bet… for a supporting role!