Judy Greer knows you know her from something

Judy Greer (Reuters files)

Judy Greer (Reuters files)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:46 PM ET

In the offices of her Canadian publisher, Judy Greer has already scored a pile of other author's books to read.

We check out her choices; no beach books there.

The actress is a serious reader.

And a now a serious writer, too. Greer is the author of I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star, a collection of stories and reflections that tend to confirm her public persona as terrific, witty and a reliable best friend. In person and on the page, Greer is charming and funny and, like so many celebrities, accomplished at hiding in plain sight. Humour is her social armour. It's not entirely effective at masking her intellect or her ferocious work ethic.

Writing, says the actress, is something she wanted to try her whole life. "I've always kept journals or a diary, so writing for me — I'm not going to say writing well — but writing has always come naturally," she says.

"So it was something I've always fantasized about. And I am a voracious reader."

A book agent noticed Greer's quick wit at play in her online lifestyle series, Reluctantly Healthy. That agent was impressed enough to contact her and suggest she start writing. Greer, 38, was in Toronto filming Carrie when the book took shape, "So it does feel as if this is where my book was born," she says.

The power of humour was something Greer figured out early in life.

"I wasn't one of the pretty girls, and so I just found that when I was able to be silly and goofy and embarrass myself and make people laugh, then I got to hang out with those people. And I got to have fun.

"They always seemed to want me around."

People always want Greer around on the work front, too. She trained in ballet for a decade before switching to acting and graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. Although she writes about waitressing and the menial jobs so many actors take on when they're paying their dues, Greer found work very quickly after finishing school and has worked steadily since. She's known for romantic comedies and for such TV work as Arrested Development, Two and A Half Men and Married, but Greer was also in such movies as The Descendants, The Village, Three Kings and Adaptation. She's in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes this summer (Andy Serkis, who she appeared with in 13 Going on 30, suggested her for her role ), and in Jason Reitman's new film, Men Women & Children, with Jennifer Garner, Emma Thompson and Adam Sandler. Next year, she’ll reunite with Descendants co-star George Clooney in Tomorrowland. And she’s also getting ready to appear in a supporting role in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World. So, needless to say, Greer is a hard-working chameleon with a robust body of work under her belt.

Despite all her self-deprecating jokes about a career playing second fiddle, it seems unlikely that Greer hankers after life as a 'movie star.'

"It would be stressful to always have to look a certain way every time you left the house in the morning, just in case, or to be judged when you're in a bad mood at a restaurant," she says. "If you're famous, people expect you to be on this pedestal and perfect all the time, and you get judged for when you're not."

Speaking of which, there's little judging going on in I Don't Know What You Know Me From. Greer can explain that. "I didn't write a ton about my past relationships, because I'm in a good one now and didn't see the point."

She also didn't see the point of dishing dirt on her co-stars.

"I didn't have a lot of bad things to say! I didn't edit myself much. People have been really nice to me, and open with me. I think I'm lucky, in that I know when to shut up and when to speak up to people. I haven't sacrificed my old friendships. I've just tried to maintain my life while doing what I do."

On the other hand, "There were things I didn't write knowing my parents were going to read it." She laughs.

"And a few other things, such as my political beliefs — I don't think anyone needs to hear those," she says. "Yet."

Review: I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star

Judy Greer enters the Hollywood 'memoir lite' category — alongside Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler and many others — with a new collection of essays about her life so far.

I Don't Know Where You Know Me From: Confessions Of A Co-Star is exactly the book that fans of Greer's will welcome, as it captures the best-friend vibe the actress has put across in romantic comedies such as The Wedding Planner, 13 Going On 30 and 27 Dresses. That chatty, daffy but essentially wise BFF comes through loud and clear on the page.

Greer writes about growing up in Detroit, her dad's health scare, being ugly as a teenager, working as a waitress and how a bright blue raincoat magically got her acting work in Chicago. Once she lands in L.A. Greer puts her self-deprecating humour to good use: she can talk about working with Jennifer Lopez, going to the Oscars or borrowing valet parking money from Matthew McConaughey and make it all sound easy and breezy. Greer is honest about the sometimes tedious peripheral work that comes with acting — red carpets, a Twitter presence and the grind of junket interviews — but her 'voice' is chipper bystander; according to her, she's just like anyone else, only luckier, and she's always the co-star, not the star. It's a clever stance.

Moreover, in a business where people are happy to stab you in the front, Greer has only positive things to say about her colleagues. She's hilarious, but never at someone else's expense. Fans of the actress will only love her more after reading this book.

The writing gets a little closer to the bone when Greer writes about marriage and the exigencies of being a stepmother to husband Dean Johnsen's kids, but overall, I Don't Know What You Know Me From is good-natured, innocent and very funny.

A bit of reading between the lines suggests that Greer has a much bigger book in her somewhere; we'll look forward to reading it one day.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

 


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