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Aubrey Plaza basks in the discomfort of 'Ingrid Goes West'

by Monica Bushman | The Frame

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Elizabeth Olsen (L) and Aubrey Plaza (R) in "Ingrid Goes West." NEON

It's pretty common for fans to confuse an actor with a character they play on TV or in film. Aubrey Plaza says she's used to people assuming that she is April Ludgate, the character she played for seven seasons on the NBC series "Parks and Recreation." But this could be the year that changes.

Plaza has taken on a really wide range of roles in 2017. On the FX show "Legion," she plays the shape-shifting Lenny Busker, who may or may not be an actual human being. She's also producing and starring in two very different films this summer.

In "The Little Hours," she plays a foul-mouthed 14th Century nun, and in "Ingrid Goes West," directed and co-written by Matt Spicer, she plays Ingrid Thorburn. She’s an unhinged young woman who goes to extreme lengths to befriend the Instagram-famous Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen:

Aubrey Plaza talked with The Frame Host John Horn about her roles in "Ingrid Goes West" and "Legion" and why she's recently taken on the role of film producer as well. 

Interview highlights:

On what drew her to the role of Ingrid:

The script reminded me of movies that are my favorite kinds of movies— "To Die For," "King of Comedy" especially is one of my all-time favorite movies. And it really reminded me of that. It reminded me of Rupert Pupkin [played by Robert DeNiro in "King of Comedy"], a character that is so flawed, but you just love him anyway. And you can't stop watching him and you are rooting for him even though he's just doing just really awful things and behaving very badly and strangely. And there was just something about that that felt very old-school to me and I just really liked the idea of being in a movie that is from my character's perspective that's almost like a psychological thriller.

On how she prepared for the role and why she found it so fun:

I approach everything that I do in the same way. I have someone that I work with... an acting coach. We have a process that we work with that's a very almost cathartic process where I kind of really use things in my own life as inspiration for the work. And as far as research and all that stuff goes, it can never be too much for me. That's why I like acting is I'm so interested in behavior and people and why they do things, and for me it was so fun to allow myself to go down that rabbit hole of toxic Instagram impulse... I tend to be drawn to things that are scary and challenging. Those are the things that are fun for me. The more uncomfortable I am, the best time I'm having.

On what she learned from her first two producing credits for "The Little Hours" and "Ingrid Goes West":

It kind of opened my brain up to just all the possibilities of how I could be more involved in what I'm doing and take more control over what I'm doing. I went to film school and I've always been interested in filmmaking. I'm interested in the entire process and as an actor you can only do so much, you only have so much control over the end product. And I was really interested in just going along for the ride from the very beginning to the very end and trying to really influence the movie in every way that I could... The movie-making process, for me, is a magical process. There's a great book that Jerry Lewis wrote about filmmaking and [there's something he talks about] where it's kind of like every little thing affects the end product— personalities, relationships, just the vibe on the set. And I've been on so many sets at this point that I think I've learned how it can be done in a great way and I've learned how it can be done in a really bad way. So I think having the opportunity to be a leader in that way and kind of create the environment that I thought would make the best movie was really fun and it taught me that it can be done.

To hear the full interview with Aubrey Plaza, click the blue player above.

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