At some point in my life, I developed an odd habit of latching on to obscure stars. Joe Pantoliano is pretty famous now, but knowing his name back in the early ‘90s probably contributed to the “Obscure Reference Boy” moniker my buddies saddled me with. Of course, back then I could cite specific issue numbers of comic books with encyclopedic accuracy, so that was a factor as much as the actor thing. Once I liked a performance, even a small role, I'd watch for that individual in other projects. I first latched on to Judy late one Saturday night watching The Specials, a low-budget superhero mockumentary that included Paget Brewster(first noticed in Friends, Thomas Haden Church(previously seen in Wings and Ned and Stacy) and Jamie Kennedy(my favorite Scream character). Armed with that collection of obscure stars on the rise, I ended up buying the DVD since I only caught part of it interrupted by commercials. For me, obscurity equals buy-worthy. I don't know why.
Greer played the sarcastic Deadly Girl, and won me over with her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Her blonde hair, known around these parts as “MCF-Kryptonite, didn't hurt. There was a certain familiarity too, and I was sure I'd seen her before. As it turned out, I was confusing her with Alexandra Wentworth from In Living Color. The resemblance was a lot stronger in The Specials, and while I hadn't seen Judy Greer before, I'd soon start noticing her everywhere, and appreciating her range. Her look and attitude differed from film to film, and she seemed prettier each time I saw her. She was quietly desirable in Adaptation, and loveably evil and caustic in every guy's secret favorite “chick-flick” 13 Going on 30. I've gone on to see her in The Village, Three Kings, and What Women Want, and I can honestly say no two roles were remotely the same. Her look and mannerisms shift flawlessly from film to film. She broke my heart in What Women Want. Her character had such low self-esteem, felt so neglected and undesirable, that her thoughts were tragic given how talented and beautiful she was. That's a key plot point of that film which I won't ruin on the off-chance people haven't seen it.
One of the things I loved about 13 Going on 30 was a series of interviews which explored the childhood of each of the actors. Hard as it was to believe the nigh-unattainable Jennifer Garner was once a braces-wearing band geek at one time, Greer's photos demonstrated the greatest transformation of all. She looked like a BOY with short curly hair when she was younger, and an ugly boy at that. It was surreal to see this blonde bombshell joke about her childhood and note the hint of regret, the twinge of sadness in her voice. Kids never recognize the beauty inside, and an outward change to match the inward doesn't erase old scars. To me, that's the tragedy of The Swan, but that's a post for another day. As for me, I'll watch for where Greer will unexpectedly turn up next.