Q&A With Judy Greer

The busy actress and stepmom shares her healthy living tips on and off the set.

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on August 12, 2013

With more than 80 film and television roles to her credit, Judy Greer, 38, isn't fazed playing Miss Desjardin in the remake of the horror classic Carrie this month, then taking on the role of female chimp Cornelia in the action film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, set for next summer. Her other recent big-screen titles include Playing for Keeps, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and The Descendants. Look for Greer's first book, I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star, a collection of humorous essays, in 2014. She voices Cheryl in FX's animated sitcom series Archer and continues as assistant and mistress Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development on Netflix -- both shows are in their fourth seasons. Greer also hosts her own Yahoo! webisode series, Reluctantly Healthy. Born in Detroit, this former classical Russian ballet student is now stepmom to two teenagers and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Dean E. Johnsen, an executive producer of Real Time with Bill Maher.

Q.  What's your go-to tip for great skin care?

Wash your face every night before bed, taking off all that makeup. When my skin starts to break out I use Cetaphil Antibacterial Cleansing Bar, and it clears up in 2 days.

Q. When you're overworked and stressed out, how do you reset and unwind? 

I do Bikram yoga, which takes time because after being in that heat, I have to shower. It's been saving my life lately, though, and I try to do it 3 days a week. With Bikram, I know what I'm going to get in the way of a class, no matter what town I'm in or what country. It helps me sleep at night. I also do transcendental meditation, and I can do that in my trailer, on set, at lunch. Doing 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon is ideal.

Q. What's your favorite healthy snack and why?

Strawberries are sweet. It was hard to get them when I was growing up in Michigan.

Q. What's your go-to healthy dinner?

At home I make “garbage salad” with a lot of leftovers mixed with kale, spinach, romaine, and rice. Leftovers depend on what I made for the kids previously, but usually a little meat. And I eat feta cheese every day of my life.

Q. What three ingredients are always in your refrigerator or pantry?

Wine or champagne, Dijon mustard, and honey: The last two make great salad dressing with lemon juice and olive oil.

Q. What do you stash in your trailer?

I get rice cakes, almonds, and herbal tea from the health food store.

Q. What's your workout regimen like?

In addition to yoga, I used to run and am still trying to do a little bit. I have an easier time exercising on location when I don't have to work all day. 

I'm a huge fan of workout DVDs on the computer. I like Jillian Michaels' videos, some of which are just 20 minutes long. I make weights out of bottles of red wine or water.

Q. How else do you stay healthy on set?

I never want to sound like a diva, so let me explain here. On set, people get you what you need so you don't go wandering off. So I ask for something specific and healthy, so someone else can go to catering where there are cookies, little pieces of cheesecake, and all those soft drinks. I don't want to get tempted by other food, plus, I don't want to touch a lot of things other people touch all the time -- like when 200 people put their hand in a jar of nuts! (And I don't like to use antibacterial hand gels.)

I'll check out the lunch menu and decide in advance what I'm going to get. I'll usually have the fish and make myself a salad. At a buffet, I'll do a pass first, and then go back and make my choices. A trainer once told me to imagine my plate as a picnic plate divided up: half is salad and vegetable, a quarter is carbohydrate, and the last quarter is protein.

Q. What three makeup items do you never leave home without when you're traveling?

It's got to be mascara, eyebrow pencil, and Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF15 in Sugar Rose and Sugar Berry. Uh oh -- this is four -- my blush.

Q. What's the best life/skin care/fitness/health advice you ever got?

It's a combination of advice from different people. Drink a ton of water, use moisturizer and sunscreen, and make yourself sweat once a day -- the last one is my husband's advice. Also, wash your face every night before bed.

Q. When you're trying to lose 5 pounds, what's the first thing that goes and why? What's the first thing you add and why?

My body is very normal and I just have to watch what I eat and exercise. If I had to lose, I'd cut carbs in general after 4 p.m. I'd add back pasta.

Q. What does a perfect day look like for you, when you have no place to be and no calls to return? How do you define me-time?

I'd go to Bikram yoga, have lunch with girlfriends -- lunch is my splurge meal and I eat less at dinner. I'd go to a Korean spa and take hot and cold plunges in pools, have a scrub, massage, and face masque at an all-in-one price. Then I'd grab my husband to go see some live music. We like small venues and indie bands, like at The Satellite in Silver Lake (Los Angeles).

Q.  What cause is near and dear to you?

Two -- first is Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. Now that I have teens in my life, I can't stress how proud I am to have gone to the organization when I needed to as a college student. It provides an invaluable service to girls and guys -- more guys should go!

Next is Homeboy Industries, a gang rehabilitation program in downtown Los Angeles, led by Father Gregory Boyle. It has a bakery and café, sells a line of products, offers counseling and helps people get jobs. I really care about this place because I want to make the city where I live and spend my time the best possible place.

Q. What do you always keep in your purse?

I always have that lip balm, some Advil, and eye drops because I wear contact lenses.

Q. If you could visit any one place on earth, where would you go and why?

That has to be Paris, because I idealize the French culture. Oh, and I want to go to their pharmacies and buy all those great beauty products.

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