Aubrey Plaza On Sarcasm & Sex Scenes

Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
Who is Aubrey Plaza? Is she the self-deprecating, sarcastic, antithesis of the cliché self-obsessed starlet? Is she the shy girl who just so happens to be wittier than just about everyone around her — that is, if she gets the courage to share the joke? Or, is she the barely disguised bombshell who's well on her way to becoming a bona fide Hollywood sex symbol?
With two movies coming out within one week of each other (About Alex hit theaters last Friday, and Life After Beth is premiering this weekend) and a starring role on one of the few comedy sitcoms on air right now that people actually love (Parks and Recreation, of course), Plaza's quickly proving she's far from just a one-trick pony — she's a talent to be reckoned with. Ahead, we chat with the starlet, getting to the bottom of the real Ms. Plaza and pulling some juicy secrets out of her along the way.
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All photographs shot at the Chateau Marmont.
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
You've got two movies hitting theaters within a week of each other and another one premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. Oh, and you just started back on Parks and Recreation. Where do you find the time?
"I don't know. That's the thing about being on a TV show — you've got this window of time to do other things. Some people choose to go to Europe on vacation. I just choose to keep working. I really love doing movies, and it's the only time I have to do them."

Are you exhausted?
"Oh, totally."

Your role as a zombie in Life After Beth is definitely different from the types of roles we usually see you in. What attracted you to taking on that part?
"I feel like it's more of a relationship movie to me — it's less about zombies and destruction. It's more about the emotional roller coaster of getting back together with someone that you broke up with. It's a really unique take on the zombie genre."
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
Have you gotten accustomed to the promotional aspect of your job — the photo shoots and TV interviews? Or, is it still a weird aspect for you?
“I think it’s always going to be a little weird for me. Actually, I hope that it always is. The day that I get super into it and comfortable with it and believe all this stuff that people are saying about me is the day that I lost my soul…or something. I try to have a good time, though, and not take it so seriously. It’s part of the job."
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
I feel like you're one of those actresses who people feel like they know you, even when they've never met you in real life. Do you feel like the way people portray you — both in the media and just the opinion of the general public — is pretty different from who you actually are?
"Yeah, definitely. I think I’m surprisingly different in real life than what people expect or what people project on to me. I’m not actually that awkward, I don’t think. I think people see me as this sarcastic person that doesn’t care about anything. But, on the contrary, I’m pretty emotional and sensitive and I care a lot about things and people. I think in moments where the spotlight is on me — like if I'm doing a talk show — my defenses come into play and maybe that’s why people see me that way. But, I think my sarcasm is often a way for me to get through those moments. I mean, if you came over to my house, I’d make you a cup of tea and be probably really interested in you."
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
What’s the best advice you've ever received?
“'No' is the only control you have as an actor. That’s a big one. And, a good one for me because I'm such a people pleaser, and I’m not so good with boundaries, so that’s definitely something I still work on.”
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
What’s the weirdest thing about your job?
"That’s a really good question. I feel like there are so many weird things! Well, you know, being physical or romantic with people that aren’t your partners in real life is always very weird. I’d say that’s way up there. But, there are so many weird things about my job. Just getting paid to pretend to be someone else is a bizarre way to make a living."
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Photographed by Elizabeth Weinberg.
Are sex scenes in movies now tainted or ruined for you because you’ve experienced how awkward they are to shoot in real life?
"Well, I’m such a movie lover. I love movies so much, and I always have. So, when I’m watching a movie with a sex scene, I don’t really think about it in terms of my own experience. I mean, it is always funny to watch scenes where it’s like a sexy, make-out session in a lake at night, because, in my head, I’m always thinking, God, how uncomfortable are they right now?! They’re probably freezing their asses off in that lake. Those are the things I always think about — imagining how uncomfortable these actors probably were while they’re pretending to be their most comfortable — because I’ve been there."

Totally. But, that’s why it’s hard for me to understand why so many actors start dating each other while filming together. How does real love come out of these faux “sexy” moments that are usually super awkward?
"See, for me, it makes so much sense. Like, if you have a deep love for someone that you’re doing a scene with, then I think there’s more to tap into when you’re acting with them. I always fall in love with people that I’m acting with. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. It really helps me to fall in love with people, both as friends and even sometimes romantically, because it’s easier for me to then have that connection on screen. Doing movies and TV shows is like summer camp: Everyone falls in love and bonds and gets really attached, and then when it’s over it’s really sad. I’m actually really, really scared for when Parks and Recreation is over because I think we’ll all be pretty devastated."
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