She was born and raised in Malibu, spent several years on the beauty-pageant circuit and comes from a well-known Hollywood lineage (dad is Kelsey Grammer of Cheers and Frasier fame), but Greer Grammer—now starring in Netflix’s Deadly Illusions alongside Kristin Davis and Dermot Mulroney, as well as making a regular appearance as Mandy on The Goldbergs—insists she’s a small-town girl at heart. “I still go to the grocery store out there and run into someone I went to high school with,” the 29-year-old says. Grammer recently chatted with us from her home state to talk COVID-approved, on-set glam, the high-frequency facial device she purchased during quarantine and her own struggles with acne.
Congrats on the movie. What was it like playing such a complicated character?
“It was so much fun. That’s the thing about acting that I love: You get to figure out different facets of people and their personalities. I’ve never gotten to play a role like this—I usually play ditzy, blonde characters and I’ll play them forever—but to get to play somebody who has so many different sides was so cool. To get to really dive in and break that down into saying, ‘Where is Grace coming in? Where is Margaret coming in? What triggers do they have? What music would each of them listen to?’ That’s the part of my job that I absolutely love.”
What was it like working alongside Kristin Davis? She’s an icon.
“Yes! Working with Kristin was a dream come true. I, as I think every woman is, am a fan of Sex and The City and I consider myself a Charlotte. I was very excited when we got her on board the project and more excited when I started to get to work with her. It was definitely intimidating at first, but she’s so talented and so great and she did such a good job at making me feel right at home the minute we met. She is just a very welcoming and warm person—which helped so much, especially since we had to do some very intimate scenes together. I can’t imagine doing those scenes with someone who I didn’t like or feel comfortable with.”
How has your job changed this past year due to COVID?
“We shot Deadly Illusions in December of 2019, so right before the pandemic. We ended up being in post-production during the pandemic and trying to finish up the movie. We had to do ADR, which is like dubbing, from home, where, usually, you go into a studio and you work with the producers and the directors there—you’re usually in an actual audio booth, so this was a completely different way of having to do it. We were all kind to doing it on our own, not having direction, not having somebody telling us what to do, so that definitely presented its own challenges, but obviously, the movie got done and I think it’s great. We were able to do it.
As far as being on set, I’ve worked a few times during the pandemic and it’s really different. I did a small indie film last year with Chad Michael Murray. We did our own makeup, unless we had special effects and they had a makeup artist come in and do that. Then, we had to wear a mask all day on top of that. I just shot an episode of The Goldbergs and it’s very similar over there—you basically have your mask on the entire time until they’re doing that part of your face for makeup, and then you take it off. There’s a lot of shields and stuff and it’s all definitely changed, but it still feels OK.”
You grew up in the pageant circuit. How did you keep a level-head?
“First of all, I adored doing pageants and it wasn’t ever something that I thought I was going to do. I was 15, I had a friend who was doing them and I was intrigued. My thinking was, ‘Let me try it for life experience. I want to just say I did a pageant.’ I ended up winning my first one, and I just continued to compete for years because I really liked it. Also, the people that I met were so great and smart and intelligent and driven. The girls who compete in beauty pageants have a lot of substance to them. It was always funny to me that there was this whole, ‘idea’ of what a pageant girl was like, because, in reality, that was never the people that I met.
I’m actually still friends with a lot of my pageant friends. I love that. As far as keeping a level head, that’s a really good question because it is hard…mainly because you’re around so many beautiful women. There definitely was a lot of ‘What makeup are you using? What is she going to do with her hair? What’s her interview outfit?’ It’s competitive, but I learned so much confidence from pageants and it has helped me—not only in terms of how the world goes, but also in acting. There’s a saying in pageants, ‘Different day, different judges, different girl.’ No matter what, there was always going to be a different outcome, but whoever was supposed to win that day was supposed to win, so you just have to believe in yourself, be confident and not worry about what anybody else is doing—and, if you do all that, you can usually win. I do that in auditions now. I’m very much, ‘OK, sure. I could have had a great read, but maybe on a different day, somebody else could have gotten that part.’ You have to learn to trust in yourself and what you were doing.”
You grew up in Malibu and you come from a Hollywood family. Has that changed your perception of beauty?
“Everything makes me question beauty all the time. It’s funny, because I grew up in Malibu, but everyone perceives Malibu very differently than what it actually is—which, to me, is a really small town. There’s one high school there and everyone knows everyone. I still go to the grocery store out there and run into somebody who I went to school with or their parents. People perceive it as this fancy, rich, big city, L.A. thing, but it’s not. If you live there and you’re going to soccer practice and going to dance class, it’s very much a small town.
Of course, like most things, it’s changed in the last 20 years. My dance studio is now a Sephora, but it’s still my hometown. I loved growing up there; I remember being at the beach as a kid, and nobody was ever wearing makeup…everyone was just themselves and natural and comfortable in their own skin. I think it changed my perspective of beauty when I got to acting in L.A., because that’s not the case there. I still look around and wonder, ‘Oh, I think I should be getting fillers. Maybe I should do that. Is that what everyone’s doing?’ But I’ve always really loved that natural beach-beauty look. That’s what I thought was beautiful growing up.”
What is your beauty routine now?
“In quarantine, I got a high-frequency machine, which I’m obsessed with because I used to always do that when I would go get facials. I love when they zap my zits! I have acne-prone, dry, sensitive skin, which is the worst. I also love The Ordinary’s masks. They have a red mask that almost looks like you have blood on your face. I’m obsessed with it, and I love that it stings. It feels so good. I love getting facial treatments, I love doing IPL and I like doing chemical peels. I like all of that stuff [laughs].
But the machine really helps a lot because, if I do have a zit that pops out, I zap the crap out of it. I was really struggling while filming Awkward—to the point where my makeup artist asked me to go on Accutane, but my dermatologist wouldn’t put me on it. It was really bad, and then I finally started using Rodan + Fields. The products are truly the only thing that have ever worked for me. I use their Unblemish line at night and their Soothe line in the morning. Within a month of using it, my skin was completely healed—at the time, every other doctor and facialist that I was seeing was trying to give me things for oily skin, and that was just aggravating my acne and drying me out. It was just awful, really terrible. Then, I finally found these products and it was like ‘Oh, both issues are being worked on,’ and that was what made my skin completely clear up. I’m so, so thankful for that.”
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