LOS ANGELES — Judy Greer is watching seemingly unemployed yet still well-dressed pedestrians shuffle down Larchmont Boulevard from her perch at a sidewalk cafe. “Have you ever noticed that no one has jobs here? I can never get over it,” she marvels. Having made five back-to-back movies in the last two years, the 29-year-old actress has the good fortune to exclude herself from that pack. With her chameleon-like hairdos and a face one can never put a finger on — she has starred as the sidekick in such movies as “Jawbreaker,” “The Wedding Planner” and “What Women Want” — Greer can still go unrecognized in the celeb-heavy Hancock Park neighborhood where she just bought a house.
But style-conscious audiences have taken notice of her in “13 Going on 30,” in which she plays Jennifer Garner’s ruthless best friend, who happens to be a Manhattan magazine editor. Greer watched videotapes of editors at work and spoke to several more on the phone. “I also read ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and those girls were downright evil,” she says. “I was like, ‘I can go there!’”
Greer’s next string of movies should extend her reach beyond the comic: She plays William Hurt’s daughter in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village,” a thriller about a 19th-century utopian community, coming out in July; a cutthroat publicist in Wes Craven’s werewolf tale “Cursed” opposite Christina Ricci, and the mother of a troubled son in the dark comedy “The Great New Wonderful,” about life in post-9/11 New York co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Edie Falco. Her name is also being bandied about for a role in Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown.”
Stellar co-stars and directors aside, Greer is now itching to take the lead. “I don’t really like the term ‘character actress,’” she says. “I would love to weasel my way into leading-lady roles.” At the moment, she’s working on her television career. Besides a recurring role on Fox’s “Arrested Development,” she’s shooting the NBC pilot “Nevermind Nirvana,” which is about a young married doctor dealing with in-laws from India. “I now see why everyone likes half-hour sitcoms,” Greer says. “It’s a steady 9-to-5 job.”
Today, she’s come from the NBC set in the Valley, dressed down in a cotton Double RL jacket and Birkenstocks, but she professes a love for high fashion as well. “I’m a Diane von Furstenberg addict. I like the comfort. If I can take a nap in it, I’m happy. I’ve been bidding on her vintage dresses on eBay, and it’s becoming a problem. When I’m at work, I call my friends and say, ‘You’ve gotta go online! The bidding stopped 20 minutes ago and I’m on set!’”
For the “13 Going on 30” premiere last week, Greer chose a Marc Jacobs dress from the fall 2004 collection, which she paid for herself. “Someone asked me who my stylist was. I was like, ‘Should I have a stylist?’”
It seems there’s no need since she already knows the tricks of the trade: “Thank God I knew about double-faced tape because the thing was cut down to here,” Greer says, gesturing to her chest “Now I know how J.Lo did it at the Grammys.” — Marcy Medina