Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Amy Ryan was flying under the radar until her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for 2007's Gone Baby Gone and her recent role as Michael Scott's love interest, Holly Flax, on The Office. Now in the action drama Green Zone with Matt Damon (which hits theaters Friday), she's continuing her career climb. Ryan, 40, plays a journalist reporting on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which soldier Roy Miller (Damon) and his team are searching for in the Paul Greengrass-directed film.
Offscreen, life for the actress is a lot more peaceful. Following filming, Ryan gave birth to her first child, daughter Georgia Gracie, with fiancé Eric Slovin in October 2009. The new mom tells iVillage about being one of the guys on the Green Zone set, what surprised her about Matt Damon and why she's become a bad New Yorker.
What was the most surprising part of working with Matt Damon?
In this character particularly, he was working alongside real soldiers. And I was impressed by how seamlessly he fit into that world. And giving orders to those guys, knowing he's an actor, it can be an intimidating job to bark orders to real soldiers. But he is quite commanding in that. Now that I say that, it's not that surprising because he's such a great actor, but it was a thrill to watch it in action.
Green Zone is a very male-dominated cast. How did you fit in with all the guys?
Just fine (laughs). Wink, wink. It's a good group of guys. At least I wasn't playing a female soldier. I think that would be a higher challenge than being the only female reporter on the film. Matt Damon is a true gentleman, as is (director) Paul Greengrass, so they're very welcoming in their approach as people and as actors and directors.
Were you able to keep it light on set?
Oh yeah, we had Greg Kinnear in this film! He's hilarious. There were a couple of takes we couldn't get through. We'd kind of laugh at our own importance, saying things very seriously, walking fast down the halls. We'd just crack up.
This movie is a big statement on American politics. What's your take on the movie's message?
I think the movie's message is really a hopeful one in that we shot this film during the Bush administration, and we did reshoots during Obama coming into office. And there is an element of, "Yeah, okay, we're here, but now what do we do? How do we all work together? How do we fix this?" And I think the movie takes that on. But I also like the message of the movie when (actor Khalid Abdalla's) character (who's an an Iraqi citizen) says, "Don't forget, I too am fighting for my country." There are so many sides to this. It's not Republican versus Democrat. It's a bigger picture and I hope people look outside those boxes in this film.
You have a busy career. How has it been balancing your job with motherhood?
It is a challenge, but I think actually it's just about becoming really efficient with your time and just writing things down. I used to keep a to-do list in my head before I had a child, but now I have to write it down. It's choosing projects wisely and that's kind of an easy process because if it's not good enough, I'm not going to leave home. And that makes for an easy decision.
Other than writing down your to-do lists, what's the biggest change you've noticed since you had your daughter?
I don't jaywalk anymore. (laughs) It's true. I feel this part of me thinking, "What kind of New Yorker are you waiting for the light to change?" But it's true. I wait for the light to change. Even when I'm not with her. I'm like, "She needs me. I can't get hit by a car." I can't stand it when someone starts walking and they put the stroller out first.
Which of your movies are you most excited to show your daughter when she's older?
Gone Baby Gone (laughs). "That's your mother!" I say that as a joke, but I actually mean that! It's funny, but my nieces -- the oldest ones are 8 -- they know I'm an actress, they know what an actress is, but they really have yet to see anything I can do. I'm constantly saying, "No, not yet. You can't see that one yet." So it'll be a while before I show my daughter anything that I've done. The Office. She can watch The Office.
Speaking of The Office, is there any future for Michael and Holly?
I don't have a plan to [return], but I can see why you ask. It's great fun to be on that show. I do love those two characters together. I hear he's getting a new girlfriend. I actually got jealous. But I don't know. I don't know what their plans are either.
But they're soulmates.
They are. It's kind of weird.
You were nominated for an Oscar for Gone Baby Gone. How did that change your career opportunities?
Oh, yeah, well Green Zone came out of that. This movie was the first movie I did after that. It does change. It's a nice shift that happens. Whether you win or not, you still win. Your career does change. It's a great gift that I'm so grateful for.
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