Jami Gertz’s Second Act and What Led to Her Reinvention

Jami Gertz is blasting off into another universe and becoming BFFs with creatures from outer space in her latest role on "The Neighbors." In the edited version of our interview with her, she talks about her latest character, Debbie Weaver, her life off the camera and what inspired her to reinvent

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
jami gertz image
Photograph: ABC

More: What kinds of challenges did you face by stepping behind the camera?
JG: Patience. As an actor I am hired last; the producers have been the ones working through the development process. When I come on board I learn my lines, get into wardrobe and begin shooting in two weeks. I am used to being creative on the fly. But development is a long and arduous process. There are many cooks in the kitchen and there are many different incarnations of scripts, deadlines not being met, and times you wonder why people aren’t working faster to get it done. You have to have a thick skin to hang in there.

More: Being the mom to three boys must require you to have all the patience in the world.
JG: When you become a mom it really tests your ability to forgive and forget. Look, I have pretty delicious children, but I know everything is not perfect and not everything is great all of the time. If someone tells you it is, she is lying. Not only have I had to learn how to move on from things since I became a mom, but becoming a mom has also mellowed me. My kids have definitely made me develop more patience and accept them for who they are. My mom always used to say to me, “I have two choices: to love you and to love you.” I never knew what she meant until I became a parent.


More: Well put.
JG: As a mom, I have learned how to negotiate with people, and if I have to give bad news, how to pepper it. Being a producer is similar . . . 

More: You used the word reinvent, which is a big theme here at More. Because you were part of the whole Brat Pack era, did you feel the pressure to reinvent yourself?   
JG: Oh yeah, I was in some pretty iconic movies, such as Lost Boys, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. There was no great plan for me as to picking and choosing what I was going to do. When I started out, it was about survival, about eating, and building my first house. Yes, I wanted integrity, and to work on projects I was proud of, but it was also about paying the bills. As my husband and I grew into our careers, my reinvention was all about, how do I do this while raising kids?

More: You are buddies with the rich and famous, yet are still so grounded.
JG: Even though I was making movies I still lived in the same house, went to the same school, and saw the same neighbors. My childhood was never interrupted. I was so fortunate that way. I wanted to impart my loving childhood on to my kids. I wanted to give them the same confront and safety of their home, school and family.

More: Spoken like a true mother.
JG: When I worked on the movie Twister I had a six-week-old and a three-year-old. I barely saw them during the four months I was shooting, even when they were in my trailer. My move to TV was so I could be in Los Angeles full time and around my boys full time. The decisions I made in my career were because family life was so important to me.

More: You have not aged a bit. You are still gorgeous and in fabulous shape, and you have a beautiful family.
JG: It is a lot of work, and no, it is not easy. However, I will say, my family is my biggest joy. They are what I love to come home to, because they are my guys!

More: Unlike some of your former costars, like Robert Downey Jr., who overcame many obstacles, and, sadly, Corey Haim, who passed away in 2010, how have you managed to remain under the radar?
JG: I think it stems from my childhood and my parents. They gave me the basics, such as showing up on time for a job and doing it well because someone is paying you, knowing your lines, and always hitting your mark. These things were taught to me early on by my parents. I also want to add, I never looked at this as a way to get famous. I did it because I loved it, I was good at it, and I could make money to support myself. Since I never wanted to mess that up, I stayed away from the pitfalls and did not go down those roads.  

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