Aubrey Plaza on Being the Nerd's Dream Girl, Being Cast for 'Parks & Rec' and Why She Likes Her 'Legion' Superpowers
In this Screen Tests interview, actress Aubrey Plaza talks about being named after a bread jingle, her crush on Bill Pullman, naming her dog after Judy Garland, and why your Halloween costume should never be sexy.
Released on 9/18/2018
I was named after a Bread song from
the '70s called Aubrey.
♪ And Aubrey was her name. ♪
♪ A not so very ordinary girl or name. ♪
♪ But just the same. ♪
I think I'm the only Aubrey Plaza
that exists in the entire world.
I've looked it up.
But I did find out that my name means ruler of the elves.
If you look it up in a baby book,
it's a man's name,
and it means king of the elves, so...
In the same week I got cast in Funny People,
Parks and Recreation, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
I had all of those meetings in one week
and I ended up getting all three parts.
So my whole life kind of just changed overnight.
I was unemployed, I was living in Queens,
I had just recently been fired from my last waitressing job.
I was an amazing waitress but I just had a policy
at the time where I just decided to have
no loyalty to any establishment,
and if they prevented me from auditioning
or from following my dreams
then I would just quit right on the spot.
That's not sustainable in the restaurant industry,
is what I was told, but yeah.
I was a nerd dream girl.
The dream girl of all the nerds.
I was like a comic book, anime, freak.
[Lynn] Yeah, you were like a comic book...
I mean I was wearing glasses.
I wore glasses in Funny People so maybe
I became like a nerd...
[Lynn] You were pretty much, yeah.
My favorite movie, well A Star is Born
is probably one of my all-time favorite movies.
[Lynn] The Barbra Streisand?
[Lynn] The Judy Garland version. The Judy Garland.
I was very obsessed with Judy Garland growing up,
so I named my dog after her.
Judy Garland's real name is Frances Ethel Gumm,
and my dog's name is Frances, but I call her Frankie.
I was always a strange child, like,
I remember when Casper came out
all my friends were obsessed with Devon Sawa,
and they had a crush on him,
but I always had a crush on Bill Pullman who played the dad.
I was always into the dads.
Don't ask me why.
John Heard in Home Alone, again the dad.
Dennis Quaid in The Parent Trap.
I mean, I could go on.
Well, I read the script for Legion
and I just thought the script
was really wild and out there.
I thought I was meeting to play
the female lead of the show.
He offered me the part of Lenny Busker,
which, in the pilot, was written for a middle-aged man,
and I was like, Oh, the middle-aged drug addict
in the mental institution?
Lenny really becomes the villain of the show.
I thought, well, that sounds really interesting,
and I would like to do that.
Yeah, it's really fun to have superpowers.
In the first season I had many powers.
I could just kill people just by,
like, going like that.
People would just disintegrate.
Um, that was a good feeling.
Well, I would come up with different,
you know, I would just go like that,
and someone would just explode.
I thought it was always fun to do
the most minimal kind of movement
and to have the maximum destructive effect.
I was in seventh grade.
I went to an all-girls school,
so we, you know, had a brother-school,
And there was a boy at the brother school
who took a screwdriver and duct-taped it to his feet,
and went to school and was kicking people
with his screwdriver foot,
and then ended up getting put
in a juvenile correction facility.
And, I believe he was my first kiss.
I remember that it tasted like metal.
We were doing one of those, like,
kind of weird, middle-school,
everyone goes in the basement
and turns the lights off,
and there's just like limbs and bodies
and you just kind of don't know what's happening
kind of thing and I just remember
just tasting metal and teeth,
and I remember he put his tongue
like he was, like, licking my teeth or something
and it was strange.
I guess my go-to songs would be
Only Time, by Enya.
That's a real, um...
[Lynn] That's a bizarre...
[Interviewer] disruptive song, Uh huh
That people get very confused
when that starts happening because
it's a lot of, like, gibberish.
And then sometimes, you know, if I'm really
in the mood for it I start doing Garth Brooks
and that really shocks people.
[Lynn] Like Friends...
Like, Ain't Goin' Down 'Til the Sun Comes Up.
I know, I can pull some really old school
Garth Brooks out of my pocket
and people really are always shocked by that.
I love Halloween.
But I have a very strict policy
that I've never worn a sexy Halloween costume
because I believe that you should be scary on Halloween
and you should really be trying to frighten people,
which is what I like.
So I usually...
Usually I basically just do
some kind of version of a nautical sea witch.
I just usually throw, like a fishing net on me,
and I have a wig, and I have makeup,
and I just like dressing up like a witch.
Like a sea-hag, kind of
[Lynn] I see. I see. character.
I have two skills.
I can play the alto saxophone.
[Lynn] Uh, huh.
Me and Bill Clinton.
And I can fold my tongue in half outside of my mouth.
[Lynn] All right, let's see.
My tongue is slippery right now.
[Lynn] That's very impressive.
Okay, that was really...
Did it translate on camera?
Just know that I'm folding it in half.
[Lynn] It looks very, very impressive.
Puerto Ricans are known to have big tongues,
so I can do a lot with it.