If our generation had a Thelma Ritter, it would be Judy Greer. Like Ritter, Greer has forged a substantial career playing supporting roles in a wide range of roles – from big blockbuster movies (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Carrie) to a string of popular romantic comedies (13 Going on 30, 27 Dresses) as well as TV (Arrested Development, Two and a Half Men). She never became Nicole Kidman or Reese Witherspoon, but instead swiftly stole scenes, usually as the best girlfriend of the heroine in the film. Her role in the upcoming FX sitcom Married is a rare chance for Greer to step up as the lead, but she’s largely known for being the cool, smart, and sassy costar, ready with a quip or a sharp-one liner. If the cover plays up her second-tier status (she’s pictured with a name tag introducing her as “???”), it’s evidence of her ability and willingness to laugh about her place on the Hollywood hierarchy.
In her humorous memoir I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star, Greer writes about her Hollywood life – and because she’s just shy of the A-list, her tales of stardom are surprisingly accessible to readers – this isn’t the work of some globally-famous superstar like Julia Roberts; instead, we have the clever musings of a hard-working woman who has made a name for herself by plugging away, building up an enviable resume.
Raised in suburban Detroit before moving to L.A., Greer’s tales of growing up paint a picture of a John Hughes-like childhood. Greer is self-deprecating (referring to herself as “Ugly Judy” when describing her teen years, and punctuating his sobriquet with photos). She has a great way of writing about her family – her mother in particular is a very interesting character – a former nun student who left to go to nursing school. She also writes with affection and a wry sense of humor about summer jobs, boyfriends, her first car, her father, vacations.
For some who are expecting a show business memoir, they’ll be disappointed because while her Hollywood life is included (she writes about her repeated forays into network television as well as her film work), her acting is merely another part of a larger tapestry that makes up a pretty interesting life. But even better than that, it’s Greer’s distinct voice that makes I Don’t Know What You Know Me From especially interesting to read: it’s a wise, quippy voice that reflects the actress’s intelligence and great sense of humor.