The Madeleine Brand Show for June 8, 2012

Geek dream girl Aubrey Plaza stars in new film

Aubrey Plaza

Duplass Brothers Productions

Still from the upcoming film, Safety Not Guaranteed, starring Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza is the actress best known for playing the sullen assistant April Ludgate on the NBC show "Parks and Rec." But she's also been in several movies, including Judd Apatow's "Funny People." Her latest film, "Safety Not Guaranteed," opens this Friday.

On getting her role on Parks and Rec:

"When i met the creators of the show, they hadn't even written the script at that point and I remember they told me, 'Oh there's going to be some kind of assistant to Amy Poehler's character, but we're not really sure, could it be like this or this.' I pitched them, maybe it could be someone like this: what if it was someone that didn't even want to be there and stumbled into this internship just for credit purposes and hated everyone but was really smart and weirdly good at her job. And so we really almost came up that idea in the room even though I was not on staff or I had no business pitching them ideas.

"I lived in New York at the time and I was kind of working with some agents and they just sent me out to random meetings ... you go and meet producers and different people and hope that they like you and remember you and put you in something. But at the time they were filming The Office and it was actually on the set of The Office. And I was such a big fan of the office at the time that i was much more preoccupied with being at Dunder Mifflin, and I was like, "Ah, I just saw Rainn Wilson walk by!" And i was really excited to just even be there.

On how her life changed in 2008:

"I had a pretty dramatic shift in my life. I was living in Queens and doing odd jobs and I came out to LA to audition for a couple things that i really had no business auditioning for. I hadn't really done anything at that point. I met some casting directors, specifically Alison Jones ... she's like a comedy casting genius. She cast me in Funny People, Scott Pilgrim Against the World, and Parks and Rec all in a week or two. And I didn't know it, but you don't usually walk into a room and they're like, 'You got it, kid.'"

"She had seen me in a web series I did a couple of years ago. I was in a web series written and directed by Maggie Carey who is Bill Hader's wife and who is also a comedian. She cast me in this show called the Jeannie Tate Show about a soccer mom who ran a talk show from her minivan while she was doing errands. People saw that online and that's kind of how i started."

On doing stand-up in "Funny People:"

"I hadn't done stand-up before I played a stand-up in Funny People. I started doing stand-up to get that part. I had only done improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and I auditioned for Funny People and they liked me. But the only hang up that they had about me was that I wasn't a stand-up, and they really wanted to cast a real stand-up because there were so many shows in the movie. So i just started doing it and taping myself and sending the tapes to Allison Jones and eventually to Judd Apatow. And then I immediately began doing stand-up with the rest of the cast, with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.

"It's terrifying. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Its really scary. And I got really into it. I went to Montreal and I was booking my own shows, but then I stopped doing it. I really like stand-up but part of the fun of it for me was that I was playing a stand-up, so I was really excited about that part. But being an actual stand up? I don't know if I'm good enough to be a Sarah Silverman or Aziz [Ansari]."

On her stand-up routine:

"I had a whole bit about tails, celebri-tails. I would list celebrities and what kind of animal tail they would have. I don't even know how to categorize that kind of joke, it's not even funny and it rarely worked, but I liked it. I would name different people, like 'Bill Clinton, he wouldn't even have a tail, he would have a polar bear's nub.' And I would explain my reasoning.

On being typecast as the moody sullen, indie girl"

"I happened to get a bunch of parts that had a similar vibe to them. I think that's because I kind of came out of nowhere. I hadn't done anything before and all of a sudden I was starring in a $70 million film as a sarcastic, weird stand-up girl with glasses and bangs. Before that people didn't identify me that way. I was doing all kinds of characters. It is kind of weird that that is what people associate me with. As an actor, there's not much control you have in the early parts of your career. I don't have the luxury to say 'No, I won't play this weird intern, I;m going to play a really happy stripper who works in a ... clowncar.' I don't know, that's a terrible idea for a character, but I don' t have the option. Safety Not Guaranteed was really good for me because I was looking to do something different and it was an organic way to break out of it. I was in kind of the same zone, whatever people project on to me, at the beginning of the film, but then I break out of it. That's really what I want the most out of my career, to be playing something different, to always be surprising people."

Guest:

Aubrey Plaza is an actor starring in the upcoming film "Safety Not Guaranteed."


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