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Judy Greer talks “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” and the return of Kitty Sanchez in “Arrested Development”

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For as far back as we can remember, Judy Greer has been busy stealing scenes in every project she’s been in. Whether she’s been wearing her hair down and glasses off in “Arrested Development” or playing a heartbroken wife who confronts the comatose woman who her husband was cheating on her with in “The Descendants,” Greer always puts a memorable spin on her characters.

The same can be said for her role in the new Duplass brothers film, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.” IFC recently caught up with the actress to talk about her shift from comedic to dramatic roles and also find out the latest scoop on the “Arrested Development” movie. Read on to find out what she had to say, but beware because some spoilers for “Jeff” do lie ahead.

IFC: You have been in some unhappy relationships in movies recently. Why are you doing this to yourself?

JUDY GREER: Yeah, I think it’s kind of cathartic. I stopped going to therapy. I don’t have to do that anymore because now I can just go to work. [laughs] It’s been fun to do something different. For me, you know, I guess I was sort of thinking of the coincidence just this weekend and doing press for the movie because I wasn’t really considering that, but I did spend some time in my career playing the sidekick role, so at one point I said to my agent and managers, you know, I’d love to maybe, instead of being the friend, be like the wife for a while, so they were like, “Awesome.” So now I’m like the wife now, so that’s good. But at least my wife characters, they have some stuff going on. I’m not just like, “So when are you coming home?” I’m like having [moments].

IFC: You’re mostly known for your comedic roles, so has it been a conscious effort on your part to make the switch to drama?

JG: Yeah, but I don’t feel like that’s the only thing I want to do now. It just was more of I kind of wanted to be challenged, and I feel like I wanted to explore that. I mean, I was going to audition for these roles; if I didn’t get them, then I wouldn’t have done them, you know what I mean?

I mean, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” I got offered, thankfully, by the Duplass brothers. They were kind of thinking of me for the role from the beginning, but some of the other parts I’ve done that are more dramatic lately, that I’ve auditioned for, I feel like if I audition and I get it, you know, that’s good, right? Then that’s maybe what I should be doing right now.

IFC: Would you ever want to go front and center?

JG: Well, yeah. I don’t know anyone who would be like, “I don’t want to star in a movie.” Sure, yeah, in fantasy land I’d love to be in a romantic comedy where I get to be the girl who, you know, is not getting the guy until the very end when of course she gets the guy and lives happily ever after. I’m also not at all unhappy with the way my career has gone thus far and I feel like I’m really fortunate in that I get to work with awesome people. I get to do great roles and have these great moments in great movies, but I can also, you know, go to Target whenever I want. It’s nice. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

IFC: What was it about “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” that drew you to it?

JG: I loved the script and then I met [the Duplass brothers] for dinner when we were talking about me doing it and I loved them. Like, they’re just cool guys. They’re just the kind of guys that you want to be in business with forever. I think of them like, if I could make instead of like a theater company a movie-making company, I would love for them to be the in-house writer/directors, and I could be the in-house girl, one of them, and I don’t know. They’re just really good people.

IFC: Was there something about the script itself or something about the character in particular that you were attached to?

JG: Well, I love the idea of fate and sort of destiny, finding signs from the universe and sort of slowing down. I love when [Jason Segel] says to close your eyes and take a deep breath and what do you see? I love that message. I love the message of how every day should be your best day, and I love the relationship between my character and Ed [Helms]‘s character even though it’s very sad and it seems like it’s kind of fallen apart.

I feel like I have seen that happen a lot with people I know and so I thought it was an important story to tell. Like, look how bad it can get. The beginning of the breakdown of communication is the end of your relationship. Once you stop putting in the effort and the time and take each other for granted, you have to really work hard to get it back after that. And so I was interested in that.

IFC: Was it nice to be offered a role outside of your norm?

JG: Yeah, definitely. For me it was, and it was fun to work with [Segel and Helms] because I felt like in a way we were all doing roles that we hadn’t gotten a chance to really do before, so it was cool that we were all doing it together. Like all of us were like, “Here we go, doing something completely different!”

IFC: It seems like you have a pretty even split between your film roles and your TV roles. Do you prefer one over the other?

JG: Not really. I don’t know, it used to be like years ago when you used to have to pick one, and obviously you don’t anymore. There’s things I like about both. I have never been — besides “Arrested Development,” and it was like so tenuous if we were ever coming back or not, and I wasn’t a series regular on that show — but I’ve never been in a real hit show. I’ve never seen what that’s like. And so I feel like there’s a lot of things about being on a successful television show that I’d love to experience, like a little bit of job security, like putting some money in the bank, that kind of stuff. Working with the same people every day, watching a character grow and evolve, and having some say in that.

But, you know, making movies is so awesome. It’s like summer camp. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, so you feel like you can always throw yourself into a role because it’s going to end in one to three months, depending. I love being in another city for a chunk of time, because you really get to learn cities and people and that’s interesting and informative. But, you know, sometimes the hustle can get tiring and because of the economy and because the business is changing and because of the Internet, the roles are getting fewer and the people who want them, the group is getting bigger.

Whereas before I would audition for a part and get it and my competition would be other actresses like me, now my competition is like movie stars want parts. You know what I mean? They’re just not making as many small movies, they’re just not making as many movies period, and we just don’t know what’s happening and the direction the business is going to go in.

Especially with television, too. The Internet, you don’t have to watch television shows on TV anymore, you can watch them on Hulu and it’s like, who knows? It’s an interesting time, but I think it’s important to kind of be doing both.

IFC: It’s interesting you say that because “Arrested Development” is coming back, but it’s going to be on Netflix. Are we going to see Kitty Sanchez again?

JG: I mean, fingers crossed. I don’t know.

IFC: You haven’t heard anything yet?

JG: I heard probably, but I don’t know, until I’m watching the movie and I’m in it onscreen, I never count on anything.

IFC: What would she be doing now?

JG: I’d like for her to take the whole family down. I feel like Kitty Sanchez should come back with all the secrets and take down the Bluths. But, I probably shouldn’t put it out there, because then they’ll be like, “Well, now we can’t do that!”

Do you plan on checking out “Jeff, Who Lives At Home”? What do you think Kitty Sanchez has been up to? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.