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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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Play along with movie trivia during "Scarface" tonight at 8P on IFC.

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Tony Montana is all about money, power and respect. And while we can’t promise you’ll get money or power by taking our Scarface quiz below, you will get respect if you get a perfect score. One out of three ain’t bad. Click below to take the quiz, and catch Scarface this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: YouTube/Tufts University

We’ve made it! Memorial Day weekend! But before we can complain that it’s over too quickly, take a moment to bask in the pre-break lack of productivity and enjoy some lighthearted videos.

From Hank Azaria channeling Chief Wiggum and other Simpsons characters while talking to college grads to “Shark-spert” Jason Alexander sharing questionable shark facts, here are five funny things from this week you need to watch.

1. Kermit Informs Fozzie Bear That They’ve Been Canceled

It’s never easy to see someone receive bad news, much less a Muppet. But if anything, Kermit’s poise and acceptance during a time of crisis is impressive, admirable even. Fozzie Bear, on the other hand, reacts with greater similarity to how we would: with baseless anger and utter despair.


2. Jason Alexander Offers Shark “Fin Facts”

Memorial Day weekend means the start of beach season, aka Shark Feeding Season. As part of IFC’s Shark Half-A-Day Memorial Day marathon, “sharks-pert” Jason Alexander offers up some interesting “fin facts” about our sharp-toothed friends from the deep. You can also check out Jason’s beach tips, and catch the Jaws movies with more “fin facts” from Jason this Memorial Day on IFC.


3. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke Confirms Dothraki Is a Real Language

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4. Hank Azaria Gives Advice Through Simpsons Characters

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With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.

We recently chatted with Al about joining Scott Aukerman on the new season, his upcoming tour, favorite CB!B! characters and his future dream projects. (Hint: it might involve actors spontaneously breaking into song.)

The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?

Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.

You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?

Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.

Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?

Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]

Scott Aukerman Weird Al

Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?

Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.

The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace? 

Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.

Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?

Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”

Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?

Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.

Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?

Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.

And you were directing while performing?

Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”

Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?

Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.

Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?

Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.

Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?

Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.

You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.

Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.

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