When Jami Gertz strolls into our suite at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, she certainly doesn’t fit the picture of what one of the most charitable celebrities in the world would look like: the fresh-faced star is so completely normal (in the best way possible).
The former teen queen of 80s cinema, now 47, casually chats about her son’s upcoming AP exams and bemoans enjoying herself a little too much on Cinco de Mayo before the conversation turns to entertainment industry shop talk.
Though she was first a movie star, rising to fame in John Hughes’ 1984 classic, Sixteen Candles, Gertz confides that she actually prefers television nowadays, and not just because she’s currently starring on ABC The Neighbors, either.
“As a viewer today, I prefer television,” she says. “It’s some of the best writing out there. I think the movie business has become so expensive that we price ourselves out of telling a decent story. I feel for the moviegoer these days. How many of the same movie can you churn out? How many Die Hards can we see? I love Bruce Willis, don’t get me wrong, but where are the original ideas?”
She wistfully remembers starring in films like Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys, films that, to her, featured more than just cool visual gimmicks.
“When those stories were written, they were simple,” she states. “There were great tales, great characters. I wish we told more of those stories now. I felt privileged to be part of moviemaking back then. It wasn’t about fame back then. The only red carpet was the Academy Awards, and nobody cared what you wore. It was purely about great acting. I’m wistful, I admit it.”
“I actually believe that my husband married me because I could be dressed and ready in ten minutes. I married him because he’s very handsome and he smells good and he’s very smart.”
She nostalgically confides that one of her favorite former film experiences of the past was working with Robert Downey Jr. on the 1987 drama Less Than Zero. “Robert is my favorite actor,” she divulges. “He was so good and so clever and he’s still so good and so clever.”
While she isn’t shy about her affection for RDJ’s acting skills, she’s less forthcoming about the experiences they shared on set. “I’m not a person that kisses and tells!” she laughs, adding, “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast let alone remember back in the day. I can’t remember one specific time on one specific movie. I grew up on movie sets, they were my formative years.”
Though TV is her preference, film clearly still has a special place in her heart as she runs her own film production company. Gertz’s Lime Orchard Productions recently acquired the film and television rights to four bestselling novels, including Meredith Goldstein’s “The Singles”, Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s memoir “Three Little Words” and Robert Goolrick’s novel “A Reliable Wife.”
When the hard-working actress isn’t busy with her entertainment industry commitments, she’s focused on her home life. She currently lives in Beverly Hills with husband Anthony Ressler, the director of private equity firm Ares Capital Corporation, and their three sons.
This brings us back to the oxymoron of ‘normal celebrity.’ Despite living in one of the toniest zip codes in America, Gertz prefers simplicity to opulence. She professes to love low-key restaurants like Rosa Mexicano to more glamorous LA locales, and has trouble remembering the names of high-end fashion designers. Her favorite item of clothing, in fact, is a pair of jeans.
“I’m a boy — I’ve become a boy! I actually believe that my husband married me because I could be dressed and ready in ten minutes. I married him because he’s very handsome and he smells good and he’s very smart,” she jokes.
Regardless of why the two married, one thing is for certain: Jami and Anthony are two of the most charitable people in Tinseltown.
In fact, they were actually dubbed the most charitable couple of all by non-profit organization The Giving Back Fund after donating more than $10 million to institutions like LA CMA and Cedars-Sinai through their Ressler-Gertz Foundation.
Of her inherent altruism, Gertz simply says, “It’s who we are as a couple and as a family. We should all pitch in and help each other out in this world. That’s the decision we made as a family, to make the world a little better.”