Judy Greer is one of Hollywood's most versatile and respected actresses. She has a varied filmography with an impressive 154 and counting acting credits. Over her career, she's become known for being in a supporting role as the best friend early in her career and later as the mom, aunt, or other non-main characters.
Supporting roles are respectable, and actors with these roles can often have longer and more diverse careers. While Greer has been the lead in several projects, I will explore those projects where she is the supporting actor but exudes leading lady energy, including an occasional standout line or moment. Greer deserves so much praise for her incredible presence in every role.
1. Jawbreaker (1999)
Jawbreaker is a sharp and irreverent dark teen comedy similar to the 1980s classic Heathers. In this film, the typical teen comedy scenarios are present: the mean girl clique who rules the school and the less popular students on the outside. The difference in Jawbreaker is that a seemingly harmless prank goes wrong.
Greer plays the shy Fern, who knows the truth but will stay quiet if they make her over and turn her into the new popular girl. Fern becomes Vylette, and she goes toe to toe with leader Courtney in some deliciously dark scenes.
Best Line: “She's so evil, and she's only in high school.”
2. What Women Want (2000)
This romantic comedy by writer/director Nancy Meyers follows a man who, after an accident, can hear women's thoughts. These thoughts overwhelm him, and then he starts to misuse them. But as Spider-Man's uncle says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Hearing what all the women around him are genuinely thinking opens his eyes to the kind of man he is and helps him grow. Greer's character, Erin, is arguably the most significant catalyst for his change. He hears her thoughts of despair and hopelessness, and he fears she will end it all. Thankfully he finds her before she does, and it's one of the most profound scenes in the entire film.
3. The Wedding Planner (2001)
If there ever were a role where Greer is the quintessential sweet and supportive best friend, it would be as Penny in The Wedding Planner. She works at the same wedding planning company as Lopez's Mary. She is always encouraging her to put herself out there and date.
When Matthew McConaughey's character, Steve, enters the picture, Greer has the best moment in the movie when she not so subtly attempts to play matchmaker and get the two alone. It's much too small a role, but she showcases her stellar comedic timing. Let's have a movie about Penny coming into her own, please.
Best line: “Oh no, darnit. I just remembered that I promised my friend's brother's godmother that I would help her change her fax cartridge because she's going out of town tomorrow on an African safari.”
4. 13 Going On 30 (2004)
13 Going On 30 is not the first film where Greer is the “best friend,” but the first that began the noticeable trend in her filmography. The romantic comedy stars Jennifer Garner as Jenna Rink, the girl who makes a wish on her 13th birthday to be “30, and flirty, and thriving,” and wakes up with her wish granted.
Jenna is a successful magazine editor living the good life but has also lost a part of herself. Greer plays Lucy, Jenna's former enemy turned best friend and fellow editor at Poise Magazine. Lucy is neither sweet nor purely evil. Greer brings sassy energy to the role of an underhanded character but not the real villain in Jenna's new reality. You're not rooting for Lucy, but she's really fun.
Best line: “You can wipe the doe-eyed Bambi watching her mother get shot and strapped to the van look off your face.”
5. The Village (2004)
M. Night Shyamalan's The Village is an atmospheric and fascinating tale of a small, humble village whose residents never venture beyond their borders. They live in fear of the creatures in the woods but still live relatively happily. Greer plays Kitty, sister to the film's protagonist, Ivy. Both girls love Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), but there is no resentment between the siblings. On the contrary, their scenes are lovely and showcase their profound bond.
Greer's other moments may be brief, but, as usual, she exhibits incredible energy and a genuine heart to her character that any lead should possess. The Village is a captivating film, and it's too bad Greer is not featured more.
Best Line: “It's a gift, love is. We should be thankful. We should bellow it out with all the breath in our lungs.”
6. Elizabethtown (2005)
Elizabethtown is a beautiful and profound story about a son who travels to his father's hometown after his death and meets a breezy, wise flight attendant who changes everything. Drew and Claire are the main characters in this Cameron Crowe film, so it's unsurprising that Greer, who plays Drew's sister, Heather, is not featured more. Though I suspect some scenes with her may have been cut from the film.
However, Greer's presence and talent make this criminally small role memorable. The most beautiful example is when Heather breaks down sobbing, watching her mother dance to “Moon River” to honor her late husband. The image of her crying is moving and proves that Greer can take any moment, however brief, and make a lasting imprint.
7. The TV Set (2006)
This lesser-known film is an enlightening, irreverent, and painfully honest behind-the-scenes look at the making of a television pilot. Greer plays Alice, the agent to David Duchovny's Mike, who pours his heart and soul into a script a network picks up for production. Greer fills the role perfectly, relaying news and information, always making it less harsh and assuring him that everything is fine. Yet, she is honest and one of the few true allies of the film.
8. 27 Dresses (2007)
In 27 Dresses, Greer again takes on the role of best friend and source of encouragement for the lead character, played by Katherine Heigl. Greer's character, Casey, is funny and much more pragmatic than most and always appears when Heigel's character Jane needs a wake-up call. Her character exists to support her, but Greer still brings her effervescent presence that makes us wish she is in the movie more. The film is delightful overall, and Greer is undeniably a part of that appeal.
Best Line: “Some of the guys from shipping are coming, and they're bringing tequila and bubble wrap.”
9. Love Happens (2009)
Aaron Eckhart plays Burke, a grieving motivational speaker in this romantic drama. Jennifer Aniston is Eloise, the sweet flower shop owner who awakens his heart again. Greer plays Marty, the free-spirited woman who works in the flower shop for Eloise. Marty's character is given a few scenes to provide the film with some comic relief and is there to give Eloise emotional support and advice. Her character is bold and confident, and she exhibits an energy that would make a fantastic leading lady.
Best Line: “Just be careful…men are hairy.”
10. The Descendants (2011)
This heart-wrenching drama stars George Clooney as a man named Matt whose life irrevocably changes when a boating accident leaves his wife (who he learns had been unfaithful) in a coma. Greer plays Julie, who shares something in common with Matt. Julie's husband was having an affair with Matt's wife.
The Descendants is another incredible example of how Greer has an innate talent of leaving a profound impact on a film with relatively few scenes. The most significant is when she visits Matt's wife and breaks down crying. She takes control of her life by forgiving her despite the pain. Greer exhibits raw emotions in this superb performance.
Best Line: “I just have to forgive you, even though I should hate you.”
11. Playing for Keeps (2012)
Playing for Keeps is a sweet romantic comedy with an impressive ensemble cast that includes leads Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel and supporting players Greer, Dennis Quaid, Catharine Zeta-Jones, and Uma Thurman. Butler is an ex-soccer star George, attempting to reconnect with his son and win back his ex-wife. But several women he meets are interested in him.
One such woman is Greer's character, Barb. As they say, this overly emotional divorcée wants to get her groove back. And she hilariously does. Yet, Greer brings humor and vulnerability to the role that could easily be one note.
12. Ant-Man and Ant-Man and The Wasp (2015 and 2018)
The Ant-Man films represent a shift in Greer's career from the best friend to the mom in her supporting roles. Paul Rudd's Scott Lang/Ant-Man is the main character, but Greer is pivotal in the overall scope of the films as his remarried ex-wife Maggie.
She is neither bitter nor meek but a responsible mother with a compassionate heart. She wants to protect her daughter Cassie but does not deny Scott time with her. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, she and her husband (Bobby Cannavale) are Scott's support system and champions when the FBI questions him. She is a crucial part of a family and brings her usual humor and warmth to the role. It's a shame her and Cannavale are not in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania because they ground the movies and provide a great deal of heart. How about a rom-com featuring their love story?
Best Line: “What does the FBI even stand for? Forever Bothering Individuals?”
13. Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic World is a prime example of Greer's talent being completely underutilized. Once again, Greer plays the sister to Bryce Dallas Howard, the film's co-lead. But in this film, Greer is the mother of two boys who asks her sister to show her nephews around the Jurassic World theme park.
Greer may not have many scenes, but she exhibits complete authenticity and heart in each, especially when she talks about ho her older son is often unkind to her youngest. You can hear the frustration and heartbreak in her voice, and it's one of the most genuine moments in the movie.
14. Lady of The Manor (2021)
Justin Long's directorial debut starts Melanie Lynskey as a down-on-her-luck woman who starts a job as a tour guide of a historic home in Georgia. She is out of her depth, and things grow inordinately complicated when the home's former resident, Lady Wadsworth (Greer), appears to her. This ghost attempts to teach her how to be a proper lady, but soon they form an unlikely friendship.
This raucous comedy gives Greer a chance to truly show her comedic abilities in the funniest role of her career. While you could call her a co-lead with Lynskey, technically, she is the supporting part. But she is an incredible scene partner, giving the film some unexpected emotion.
Best Moment: When she and Lynskey bond over silly faces, we see that comedy can be simple but effective.
Special TV Mentions:
– Reboot (2022)
This Hulu series is another example of Greer, while still supporting, being able to showcase her comedic range in a significant way. The show itself is uneven, but Greer is consistently good.
Best Moment: Having taken something that makes her entirely out of it, she calls her friend for help. He tells to tell Siri to send her location but instead screams, “Sarah, take me on vacation!”
– The Thing About Pam (2022)
Based on actual events, this riveting limited series tells the tale of Pamela Hupp, a woman who almost commits the perfect crime. Greer plays District Attorney Leah Askey, who ignores evidence and poor investigation to obtain a conviction.
Greer is fantastic as a woman who is not necessarily immoral but too self-serving to perform her job as well as she should. This role gives Greer another chance to shine in a more minor but significant and crucial role.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature from San Diego State University. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture and geek related, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency, Christianity Today, and The La Jolla Light. She writes on her own website TheGirlyNerd.com, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video. She resides in San Diego, California.