Judy Greer Gets Serious for 'The Descendants'

Judy Greer plays the wife of the philandering Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard) in "The Descendants."

Most of us recognize Judy Greer, 36, for her roles as the funny friend or quirky co-worker in movies like 27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30 and The Wedding Planner. She’s also had more guest, recurring and regular TV appearances than we can count, including her latest turn on Two and a Half Men as Bridget, the ex of Ashton Kutcher’s character. This week, Greer gets serious in another memorable supporting role in Sideways director Alexander Payne’s The Descendants and is earning accolades for her scenes with George Clooney.

One of Greer’s career goals was to work with Payne, she says. “I told him, ‘I don’t know what to wish for now.’ I have to think of something.” We might suggest an Academy Award, since she’s been included in the Oscar buzz surrounding the film. “That’s a dream, of course,” she says. “I would be totally lying if I said it doesn’t really matter because that would be so cool.”

Though The Descendants has its comedic turns, the film also has some heart-wrenching and dramatic moments — particularly in a conflicted, emotionally charged scene with Greer and Clooney in a hospital ICU, where his wife is in a coma after a boating accident. Matt King (Clooney) has discovered that his wife was cheating on him with Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), the husband of Greer’s character, Julie. “It was kind of a departure [for me],” she says of her role. ““She confused me, and I thought it was fun to explore that.”

Citing Payne’s stellar track record, which also includes About Schmidt, Greer had a hunch that the movie, “a coming-of-age story about a 50-year-old man who gets to grow up,” would work. “I’ve been in great directors’ films that haven’t turned out the way I’d hoped, so you never really know, but the script was beautiful and I thought this was a great role for George.” Clooney’s King spends much of the film trying to establish a relationship with his daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and teenager Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) after years as the self-described “backup parent, the understudy.”

Greer, who is slated appear in several more Two and a Half Men episodes this season and continue voicing characters in the animated series Archer and Glenn Martin, DDS, will appear in two comedies due in March. In Jeff Who Lives at Home, she plays Ed Helms’ underappreciated wife. “I’m the one in this movie who’s thinking about stepping out on my husband because I’m feeling like it’s not really happening for me.” And in Playing the Field, “I play a somewhat weepy, neurotic, recent divorcée soccer mom who’s trying to hit it hard with Gerard Butler,” she says, breaking into a grin. “That was fun!”

The Descendants is currently playing in New York City, Los Angeles and 10 other cities nationwide and opens in 50 additional cities on Nov. 23.

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Photo credit: Courtesy Fox Searchlight