From director Nick Hamm and inspired by true events, the indie drama Driven is a wild tale of the bromance gone wrong between John DeLorean (Lee Pace) and Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis). Set in the early 1980s, the story follows how, out of a desire to save the financially troubled DeLorean Motor Company, the golden boy genius of the automotive industry got caught up with an ex-con pilot turned informant, who lured him into a cocaine trafficking ring set up by the FBI.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Judy Greer (who played Jim Hoffman’s no-nonsense wife Ellen) talked about her initial reaction to this unbelievable true story, why she was excited to sign on, how much fun this character was to play, and what it was like to shoot in Puerto Rico, right after Hurricane Maria. She also talked about returning for another Halloween movie, the huge success of the first film, and how she’s gotten to read different drafts of the script, along with the incredible experience she’s had on the Showtime series Kidding.
Collider: This is one of those stories that’s just so crazy that it seems like there’s no way it could be true. When this came your way and you read this script, what was your reaction to it?
JUDY GREER: I thought they were going to get sued. I was like, “You can’t make up a story about someone like this. The estate is going to sue us.” And then, I looked at the cover page of the script again and was like, “Wait, what? This is not real.” Finding out that this actually happened was so bananas. I got all lit up. I was so excited because it’s such a crazy story and something that I felt like I should have known would happen, having been a fan of cars, and the DeLoreans, and remembering them, but I was just a bit too young for this. But I was very excited to do it. I’ve been friends for a long time with Lee Pace, so finding out that he was doing it, too, I was like, “I have to be in this movie, so that I can see Lee, every day, in a wig with age make-up on, and tell this story with him.” It was so fun and so crazy. I consider John DeLorean to be a genius. Anyone who could design a car is a genius, right? And it’s heartbreaking, as well. It’s insane and heartbreaking that he would sacrifice everything to get this car made. I can’t help but respect it, even though his choice of how to finance it was obviously not great. It just goes to show how far someone will go to realize a dream. You can’t really ever take the easy way out, can you? But man, it’s a big tale.
It definitely makes you think about Back to the Future a little bit differently.
GREER: I know. Even still, to this day, when you see one on the street thing, it’s exciting.
This woman must have been a lot of fun to play, especially because she has such a real fire and wit to her. Was that on the page, from the beginning?
GREER: Yeah, it was. It was an incredibly well-written role. So often, when you read the wife, mother, girlfriend, or ex-wife roles, there’s nothing there. There were so many reasons for me to want to do this movie. The main one, the end of the day, was that I felt like this character was so well-written. It was such an interesting journey for this woman to go on, knowing who she married and hoping that things would change, even though she knew, in her deepest, darkest parts of her heart and mind that they wouldn’t. There’s just so much there, and the story is so well told. I love her energy, and I love how she just accepts her husband. There’s a great moment, towards the end, when she’s like, “I know who I married. And if he goes down, I’m going down, too. That’s just what I’ve signed up for.” It’s such a beautiful announcement. I’m sure a lot of people think it’s stupid, but I’m a romantic at heart. She’s getting her piece, too. I wouldn’t say that she’s the greatest housekeeper. She’s pretty chill about where they live, and she doesn’t ask questions about where the money comes from. I feel like she’s maybe a tiny bit on the lazy side, which I enjoy. She’s just totally cuckoo crazy in love with her husband.
You shot in Puerto Rico, at a very interesting time. How was that experience? What did you learn about Puerto Rico and the people there, while you were shooting this?
GREER: We were shooting this pretty soon after Hurricane Maria, so I don’t know that that was the greatest time to get to know a community of people and a place, but I fell in love with Puerto Rico and I fell in love with our crew, who were all Puerto Rican and local. I would’ve loved them, anyway, but the heart and soul that they had, and their commitment to making the movie, with what they were dealing with at home, and what everyone in Puerto Rico was dealing with. It was a little overwhelming. It’s a lot to talk about because it was such a horrible, devastating time. In some ways, it felt wrong to be there, and in some ways, I felt like we had to be there. I changed my mind, every day, about what we were doing. In the end, I think making the movie was really important. It provided jobs. A lot of people were pulling out of production in Puerto Rico, and that was exactly the opposite of what needed to happen. People need to keep going there and shooting there and bringing business there. It’s an incredible place to work. I loved being there, and that was after the most devastating hurricane that they’ve known, so I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be there when it was business as usual. It would just be a dream. I loved it. The land is so beautiful, and the ocean is perfect and warm, and everyone there is wonderful. I couldn’t love it more, and I can’t wait to go back. I hope I get to go back for work. It’s a magical place.
You’re also going to be returning for more Halloween movies soon.
When you signed on to do the first one, did you know that there were plans, not just for another movie, but for two more?
GREER: They always make you aware that’s an option that they have. Certainly, the second our movie came out and the success that it had on the opening weekend, I was like, “Oh, we’re 100% doing another one.” Why wouldn’t we? When, in the history of filmmaking, has someone had such a success and been like, “Man, we’re good.” No way! It was exciting to do the first one, and the idea of doing more, obviously, I was super into, but you never really know. But it’s really gonna be great. I’m so excited to go back. I’m so excited to see my Halloween family, and so excited to see Michael Myers again. He’s a real peach. He’s always there lurking. He’s the strong silent type.
Have you gotten to read the script for that yet?
GREER: I’ve read versions of it, that David Gordon Green sends me, from time to time. I have not read the final, final, but I’ve read a few drafts. I can’t tell you anything, though. He’ll parachute onto my roof and kill me, if I tell you anything about it.
Kidding has also been such a revelatory surprise. That show has just been fantastic. With as wild and crazy as that show and story can be, while still also being meaningful and heartfelt, what have you enjoyed about the journey of doing that show and playing that character?
GREER: I describe it as being really magical and heartbreaking, and I feel like that’s how I look at life, as being those two things, all the time. The highlight really has been getting to work with Jim Carrey. Last night, we were shooting this scene really late, and I was tired, and I was watching him. He was standing on his mark, and they were tweaking a light, and I was staring at him like, “Holy shit! I fucking work with Jim Carrey. I get to go to work with Jim Carrey. I act in scenes with Jim Carrey. I play his wife. We scream at each other, and cry around each other, and hug each other, and love each other. What the hell?” It weirdly hit me last night, even though I’ve already shot almost two seasons of television with him. I have to be careful sometimes not to get too starstruck when I’m going to work because I work with so many big celebrities and people that I’ve watched my whole life, so if I lost my shit around them, how would I do my job? But once in awhile, I’m just like, “What is even happening, that I’m allowed to do these beautiful scenes, with this man?” That’s how it is to do Kidding.
Driven is in theaters, on-demand and digital on August 16th.