Book Review: The “Real” Judy Greer speaks up in “I Don’t Know What You Know Me From”

greer1Judy Greer was born Judith Therese Evans in Detroit in 1975, and is quick to point out how long the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) had her middle name incorrect in its extensive listing of her career and credits.

And there are a lot of those — credits, I mean. She’s played “the best friend” (“13 Going on 30,” “27 Dresses”) or the “wife of a cheater or wife who might cheat” (“The Descendents”, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home”) in dozens of films. She’s had recurring, quirky-funny roles on “Mad Love” and “Two and a Half Men,” “Arrested Development” and her own series, “Miss Guided.”

She’s almost famous, so the joke goes. You recognize her. Which is why she titled her adorable semi-autobiography “I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From — Judy Greer: Confessions of a Co-Star.”

That’s actually a long title, longer than some of her roles. But she never, ever fails to make an impression, in “Love & Other Drugs” or “Elizabethtown,” “The TV Set” or a one-off sex crazed scientist in “The Big Bang Theory.”

I interviewed her when she came to the Florida Film Festival to be honored and to promote “The TV Set,” and the person you see on the screen is the voice you get when you stumble into her at Starbucks. Offbeat, funny, girl next door insecure capable of potty-mouthed tirades, played for shock value. Nice. Sweet.

And that’s the voice that comes through in the book, dishing about her form of celebrity, sort of down-market — Kathy Griffin territory (somebody she says she’s mistaken for, even though she’s much prettier). She recounts the one time she attended the Oscars, stag, her dress started to disintegrate and she had to peel it off when she went to the bathroom. Yes, she took a selfie — of the dress, hanging in the toilet — to mark the occasion.

Speaking of toilets, she finds delight in the famous players she’s “peed next to” on sets from Louisiana to Wisconsin and all points in between. No DEEP dish, just sweet nothings about Liv Tyler, Katie Holmes, et al. Matthew McConaughey loaned her cash to bail her car out of valet parking when she auditioned for “The Wedding Planner.” Ashton Kutcher produced her short-lived sitcom, “Miss Guided,” and gave her dad a Harley when the show was picked up for broadcast.

Greer gets seriously sentimental when talking about her ever-supportive dad, the one who bought her a fucsia (OK, pink) Ford Escort for graduation, and custom painted a “*2 Be” license plate, which she kept on the car as long as she owned it.

She advises us on the horrors of “Spanx,” the most tactful ways to approach somebody you recognize from film and TV but cannot place, the rude questions she fields from reporters and other strangers.  She gives tourist suggestions for how to handle Los Angeles (Don’t rent a convertible, only “tourists” are dumb enough to do that). She talks about her big breaks and her niche, quite candidly. As character players go, she’s one of the best, a delightful presence. But she’s right to be a little afraid about her shelf life. How long can you play the “best friend” when the leading ladies keep getting younger and you’re headed for 40 next year?

A quick check of her coming credits, from the “Jurassic Park” reboot (she was in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), “Tomorrowland” and “Ant-Man,” removes any doubt that the work will keep coming. Even if the star doesn’t need a best friend.

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