One-on-One with the Most Charitable Woman of 2012, ‘The Neighbors’ Star Jami Gertz


She may have been dubbed 2012 “Most Charitable Celebrity” alongside husband Anthony Ressler, the Director of Ares Capital Corporation, but Jami Gertz is very much still involved in the entertainment industry. She runs the production company Lime Orchard Productions, and is currently starring in the ABC Family comedy, The Neighbors. As her show approaches its March 27th season finale, the Beverly Hills resident sits down with Haute Living for an intimate one-on-one Q&A to chat about her favorite memories from the season, whether the 80s star of films like Sixteen Candles, Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys prefers TV or film these days and what she really thought of reality star Bethenny Frankel as an actress.

The season finale of The Neighbors is imminent. What’s been your best memory from the show?

It was probably our Thanksgiving episode. [My character] Debbie had two sisters that she didn’t even know she had who were held in a dungeon. One was a gay man and he called himself her sister and it was about family and Thanksgiving and how we dread it and how’s inevitable and we’re going to celebrate and be annoyed by it at the same time.

Do you think your show [about aliens living in a cloistered residential neighborhood] is a sneaky metaphor for acceptance and alienation?

I do think it’s about acceptance or wanting to fit in and wanting to be comfortable, and comfortable in your own skin. We used aliens, but the aliens could refer to people from another country or those coming to America and seeing how we live our lives and why we’re living our lives these ways; it’s a social commentary on human behavior. What I love about it is that the aliens are almost childlike in their nature. I have three children of my own, and when you have children,  you see things through a young prism of innocence. We lose that innocence as we get older. We become assholes! We become jaded. You’ve seen it, you’ve heard but when you’re around innocence and someone seeing something for the first time, it’s lovely. I get wistful when I see some of the scripts.

Do you enjoy working in film or TV more? What are the differences?

Every actor has plans to work in film. Any actor who tells you differently is lying to you. I have things that I’m producing, I have my own production company, things that I’m writing. An actor’s life is certainly a strange one and you never know where your next gig is coming from. But as a viewer today I prefer television; it’s some of the best writing out there. I think that the movie business has become so expensive these days. We price ourselves out of telling any decent story; I just feel for the moviegoer these days. How many of the same movies can you churn out? How many Die Hards can we see? I love Bruce Willis, but where are our original ideas? The big business of movies has bought its way out of simple storytelling. I was a huge Friday Night Lights fan, huge fan of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones as well as Homeland and Dancing With the Stars because I like a good contest.  

Tell us about the season finale.

I am happy with it: people who enjoy Sci-Fi will enjoy the last episode. People who have a sense of humor will enjoy it. It’s very charming and funny and clever.

How did you think of about [Bethenny Ever After star who appeared in one of the final episodes] Bethenny Frankel as an actress?

Bethenny Frankel is an amazing person and an amazing actress. She was that good! I don’t know if she’ll be returning for another episode — I have a feeling she has other things on her plate with her new talk show — but we’d love to have her back. 

What’s next for the series? Will you reprise your role?

There are so many places we can go for this show, and our finale does keep it open-ended. In this new era of 24/7 news, we’re so freaked out by our neighbors. But with my generation, we made playdates, our kids were out on the street playing and on the street I grew up on, our neighbors really helped each other oute. We knew who to stay away from, and we knew who would feed us. There’s so much more to explore in this show, and in the current behavior of humankind. 

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