Is Aubrey Plaza The Victim Or Villain In Ingrid Goes West?

Photo: Courtesy of Neon.
Ingrid Goes West stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid, a young woman who, after a personal tragedy and a stint in a mental facility, takes off for the sunny skies and avocado toasts of Los Angeles after briefly stalking Instagram influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). There, Ingrid contrives to become friends with the object of her obsession, who also turns out to have a dark(ish) side.
It's a new kind of role for Plaza, who so far has made a career out of her deadpan April Ludgate delivery. Ingrid is funny, sure, but she's also struggling with mental illness, deeply insecure and, underneath it all, a person desperately seeking connection.
The comedian herself is shy around social media. She left Twitter after the 2016 election, only to stage a comeback earlier this year to promote her movies.
The film also marks Plaza's second credit as producer, after 2017's The Little Hours, directed by long-time boyfriend Jeff Baena. We spoke to the actress about playing a stalker, the nature of social media, and being a second-time producer.
I want to start by talking about the ending. Do you think it's a happy one?
Aubrey Plaza: "I think it's a hopeful ending. I think it’s really sad. The idea that this character wanted so badly for people to follow her and to notice her, and the way that she ultimately ended up achieving that was through her own self-destruction. But I think at the end of the film she's left with the one person that she had a real human connection with. And the fact that he's still there and in her life makes me feel hopeful that maybe she can realize how meaningful that is, and focus on that."
How does one prepare to play a stalker?
"I spent a lot of time on Instagram. It wasn't hard to prepare to be obsessed with Elizabeth Olsen — she's obsession-worthy. It was really fun actually, being able to allow myself to go into those internet holes where you're surfing and trolling other people and looking at pictures. Normally I have no self-control. But for the character, and for research purposes, I really let myself go there and that was really helpful."

It sometimes feels really negative and unhealthy to me to engage with the world in that way.

Aubrey Plaza
What's the weirdest account you followed?
"I follow that account that’s just that's just a bunch of images of Meryl Streep photoshopped onto different food products."
That's a good one!
"I think it's called A Taste Of Streep, so that's out there. I mostly followed beautiful people, beautiful bodies."
Did you have conflicting feelings about social media before doing this movie? I know you left Twitter last year and then came back.
"That's a great example of how I feel. I'm very conflicted about it. It sometimes feels really negative and unhealthy to me to engage with the world in that way. But then sometimes it feels fun, and social media can be a way to really bring people together and connect [to people. And so in those ways it has a positive impact on society. But for me it feels kind of empty.
Do you have a favorite Instagram filter?
This is the second movie you've produced this year. What made you want to be involved beyond acting?
"When I read the script I was so excited about the version of this film that I saw in my head, and I just thought it had so much potential. And I felt that as a producer, my opinions could really come into play more and I could exert some more control over the end product. And so producing The Little Hours was my introduction into that space and I learned a lot. But with Ingrid I feel like I learned how to really shape a movie from the very beginning to the very end."
Will you be doing more of that in the future?
What do you want the message of the film to be?
"I hope that people are reminded how important it is to be true to yourself, and to be authentic. And I hope that the curtain is kind of pulled down, and people are more aware of how comparing yourself to other people is just not healthy. And none of it's real. So, I hope it just raises a lot of questions and brings awareness to the impact that social media is having on all of us."
I'm not sure of the answer myself, but who do you think is the real villain of the movie?
"The most villainous character I think is Nikki; he ends up being kind of like the Scarecrow in Batman. But I think the real villain is ourselves. Wouldn't you say?
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