One of the internet’s most reliably on point reaction memes is a photo of Judy Greer yucking it up with Mike Myers, the seemingly indefatigable killer from the Halloween series. The two figures are turned toward each other as if in mid-conversation. Greer, in cocktail party attire, leans forward, her eyes closed, her smile huge, her hand resting familiarly on Myers’ shoulder. Myers, a bit underdressed in his trademark navy jumpsuit, stares back blankly from behind his equally recognizable ruined William Shatner mask, but it seems like he’s having a wonderful evening. It’s no surprise the meme is so popular—it perfectly captures the essence of “having a great time with my terrible decisions” or “lol I’m in danger!” But also, perhaps more importantly, it features one of the internet’s favorite stars doing what she does best: Being high-key relatable while also maintaining a quirkiness that makes her stand out.
It’s no wonder, then, that the supporting player who stole scenes in everything from 13 Going on 30 to Ant-Man to Jurassic World has an entire online campaign solely focused on raising her profile. Search “Judy Greer Should’ve Been the Lead” and you’ll find scores of articles on her unique appeal, her underdog status, and even merch with the slogan. The internet wants more Judy Greer, and for good reason. Enter Good Boy, Hulu and Blumhouse’s latest entry in their Into the Dark movie series. The film stars Judy Greer as a woman who gets more than she bargains for after adopting an emotional support dog. Imagine Little Shop of Horrors meets Cujo, but with the finally central presence of the inimitable Judy Greer. The star talks to ELLE.com about her new role and her own dog, who is nicer than the titular pet in Good Boy, though decidedly not supportive.
When I first heard about Good Boy and saw your name, I was like, “Yes, I’m in immediately.” But I was surprised to find it was a horror comedy. It’s such a good genre fit for you.
I just had so much fun doing Halloween and working with Blumhouse. It felt like we were making straight-up comedy. I try not to think of any project like, “This is a dramatic film. I must be dramatic in it.” I try to be honest and let the director worry about managing my tone.
You always make so much out of what are sometimes just a couple of scenes. What is the strategy behind that?
I wouldn’t say I strategize about it, but I try to find, in my own brain, good backstories for my characters and good connections to the other actors. When you do a little extra work on a script, you can always dig deeper and find something that connects you more to the material. How many times have we seen beautiful performances in these smaller moments in movies that just have such an impact? You don’t have to be the star of a movie to make someone feel a certain way or elicit an emotional response from an audience, which is what we’re all going for—just to live emotions. That’s why we consume art, right?
I’m talking really deeply about this horror comedy, I realize. I think also just the mindset of what’s going on in the world right now, a part of me is like, “It was so fun.” Everything feels so like heavy and beautiful right now, so forgive me.
That’s the thing that’s so interesting for me. Watching it, I was like, “This is a release valve I didn’t know I wanted.” Is it true the screenwriters of Good Boy wrote the role for you?
That’s what they told me, unless they lied to my face, which I’m not ruling out. I’m also choosing to believe it, so yes.
You have a huge online fanbase of people who are very vociferous about getting more Judy Greer on the screen. Do you know about this?
Yeah, I do. I’ve seen so many posts of people wearing “Judy Greer Should Be the Lead” t-shirts. I’m like, “Bring it.” That’s really nice, and I’m really flattered, and I couldn’t agree more. I would like to say I’m not unhappy. I’m not bitter. I feel very lucky. One of the nice things about operating under the radar a little bit is that you get more options when jobs come your way. Usually I am playing lots of weird, different characters and either tiny indies for no money or giant movies for loads of money, or TV shows or guest stars. I get to swim around in lots of different waters, which is nice. When you start starring in things, you can lose that. People start to pigeonhole you.
With you in the lead, I also took notice of who was playing second fiddle. The supporting cast of the movie is much more diverse than most movies we’re seeing out there.
That’s another thing Blumhouse is doing a great job of, and that’s also very important to me in my career. I was able to direct a movie a few years ago and I tried as hard as I could to make it as diverse as possible and to change a lot of the sexes that were for men to women. It was important to me while executive producing this. I feel the people who got the roles were the best people for the job.
And the iconic Steve Guttenberg plays your character’s boss.
We should all be so lucky to spend a couple of days on a set with Steve Guttenberg. He is so kind and funny and someone you want to hang around. I would like to sign up to be the president of his fan club. I’m sure there will never be an opening, because he’s just so great.
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Let’s talk about your character, Maggie. Her dog starts killing people who upset her, and right before one character is killed, he calls Maggie “hysterical”—a very loaded word. Her doctor warns her about mood swings brought on by fertility treatments, and the whole plot hinges on her having a dog to manage emotions. Everything would’ve been easier if Maggie could just feel what she felt.
Yeah, she’s lonely, man. I think we’re all kind of lonely, and I think some people more than others. Maggie especially was tired and lonely. You have these guideposts in your life; you wake up one day and think, “Wait, what? When did all this time go by?” Maggie’s like, “How is it so hard to date? How am I still doing this job? How am I still in this department?” I think she had a come-to-Jesus moment.
No one ever said I’m hysterical or I’m being hysterical, but people tell me to calm down or don’t be angry. No one tells men that unless they’re about to punch someone out, I’m assuming. When you’re a woman, it’s like “be nice, be quiet, smile.” That’s something I enjoyed playing in the movie: “Don’t call me that. Don’t tell me that.” Sometimes when I’m really upset and someone’s like, “Can you just calm down? Relax,” I do want to sic a killer attack dog on them, so I understand the impetus.
And you do have a dog, right? Though not an attack or an emotional support dog.
No, she’s not. She has the vest and she’s registered, but really she requires my emotional support on a daily basis. She is a nervous little girl who had a hard-knock life before I met her. I feel like it’s my duty to serve her all day, every day. My husband thinks I’m ridiculous in the way I treat her. She’s just so small and so cute, and loving her makes me happy. So if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Her name’s Mary Richards, and I imagine one day traveling with her and how stressed out I’ll be the whole plane ride. I’ll be a basket case until we get to the destination. That’s not emotionally supportive. She couldn’t really be an emotional support animal. In fact, I was on an airplane once and a woman had a full grown German Shepherd. It was so poorly behaved, and she seemed so stressed out that I was like, “Lady, you’re not fooling anyone. What are you doing? Get your life. You are so stressed out.”
What kind of dog is Mary Richards?
She’s a terrier mix. Sometimes I kind of want to do that DNA dog thing. In fact that would be a really good present for me if anyone reads this that doesn’t know what to buy me as a present for anything coming up. Feel free to print that, and I’ll forward it to all of my friends.
I will absolutely do it.
My birthday’s the end of July, everyone.
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