Oyster #95: Aubrey Plaza
"I just have to show up and hate everyone."
For Oyster #95 Jason Crombie caught up with Aubrey Plaza and was a little relieved to find she's nothing like her on screen persona:
As a journalist whose CV is almost exclusively made up of interviews, I have met my fair share of intimidating interview subjects. No interviewee, however, has generated as much pre-game nail-biting as Aubrey Plaza. Miss Plaza is the comedic actress best known for playing Pawnee Town Hall employee April Ludgate on the hilarious sitcom Parks and Recreation. Although Plaza has appeared in a slew of hit movies - Funny People, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the soon-to-be-released Safety Not Guaranteed - it's the sarcastic and wholly apathetic April that she's best known for. I'm afraid of April - but luckily, as it turns out, Aubrey is nothing like her.
Jason Crombie: Aubrey, you're a comedian and an actress.
Aubrey Plaza: Yes.
And you're 27?
I'm 27, yeah. I turned 27 in June.
And you're from Delaware.
I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, yeah.
Do you remember that scene in Wayne's World where they diss Delaware?
Yes. That's, like, the number one thing people say to me when I say I'm from Delaware. They go, "Hi. We're in Delaware."
But what's the deal with Delaware?
Delaware is so fucking weird, but so great. It's hard to describe, because it's nestled in the middle of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and it's kind of New England-y, but also kinda feels Southern.
But it's also a beachside state, so it has beaches. It's two hours from New York City. So it's got everything.
Did you like growing up there?
I actually did, because there weren't that many things to do, so you had to be creative, which I think helped me a lot, you know? Me and my friends would go driving around in the woods and, you know, go on adventures. There wasn't a lot of clubbing and drinking, so I think it was good for me.
In high school were you, like, the leader of the pack?type 'funny girl'? The girl no one fucked with?
Yeah! No one fucked with me! No, people fucked with me all the time.
All the time. But I was funny, yeah, and I was popular, but not in the traditional sense. I wasn't, like, the popular, hot cheerleader girl, but I was kinda popular because I didn't care what anyone thought of me, and I would do crazy things in public. I think a lot of people my age were horrified because?
Wait, what did you do that was crazy?
So many things.
Just stupid stuff. Like, my friend Neil and I would wear a chicken and a duck costume to the movie theatre on Friday nights.
Jesus. You were definitely making your own fun, then.
You had to - it was Delaware.
You have an Irish mother and Puerto Rican father. Is that right?
And two little sisters.
Are you, like, the cool older sister?
Oh my God, no! I'm such a dork to them.
Yeah. My little sisters are so much cooler than me. They're always making fun of me for being so lame.
Impossible. You're on a great TV show and you're in movies and stuff. How can you not be the cool older sister?
Well, I think that's cool, but I'm not cool — to them — in the normal way. I'm pretty dorky. I live in LA, and my sisters always get mad at me for not using my 'star power' to get into parties and meet people. They're always like, "What are you doing on Friday night?" or, "What are you doing this weekend? Are you going to this or that premiere?" and I'm always like, "I think I'm just gonna play Boulder Dash with my friends and then watch Battlestar Galactica." So, that's what I do, and then they're pissed at me for not going out with Miley Cyrus and making connections and stuff.
How much fun is it making Parks and Recreation? My girlfriend and I are convinced you guys are having the time of your lives.
Yeah, it's ridiculous! It's so much fun. I just finished this movie that I had to do while doing this season of Parks, and I was going back and forth between the movie and the show?
And it really helped me realise just how much fun it is to do the show! The movie was really good, but it was a lot of work. When I went to the show, though, I got paid to sit there and eat waffles with Amy [Poehler] and Chris [Pratt] for, like, an hour, and just mess around. And that's my job. That's awesome. And also my character, April, is so fun because it doesn't matter if I'm hungover or in a bad mood ? I just have to show up and hate everyone.
Who cracks you up the most on set?
Oh, it's so hard to say; everyone is so funny. I feel like-
Is it Ron Swanson?
That's what I was going to say: Nick Offerman [aka Ron Swanson]. He makes me crack up a lot. We'll be doing a bunch of takes and he'll do the same thing each time, but then, out of nowhere, he'll say something really mean or he'll yell for no reason, and that stuff kills me. He's really fun.
He looks like a cat. Have you ever noticed that?
Yeah! I think there's a thing on the internet that compares his face to a cat.
Yeah, it's pretty creepy. Now I think you're the one that created that.
I'm way too busy to maintain a 'Nick Offerman looks like a Cat' website.
What did you do for a job before you became a successful actress?
I had a lot of shitty jobs. I was a waitress at a bowling alley?
In New York?
In New York, yeah.
Was it Bowlmor Lanes?
You were a waitress at Bowlmor?
Oh my God! I didn't know you could get food there.
You can get a lot more than that.
Do you miss it?
No. I miss the uniform, though. I used to wear that slutty bowling-alley uniform. I don't know if you remember?
I sort of remember it. It's like a one-piece short/skirt thing, right?
Right; good memory. And fishnets and heels. I made my mother proud.
Did you ever spit in anyone's food?
Did I spit in anyone's food? Nooo, but here's the thing about my waiting days: I don't remember much because I was drinking a lot at work, so I don't know exactly what I did. I do know that I gave out a lot of free drinks.
How did you get through those days?
I had a philosophy. I worked in a bunch of different restaurants, and kind of made a pact with myself - a 'no loyalty' pact - where I decided that I would have no loyalty to any restaurant I worked at. I'll do whatever I want when I get there, try to make as much money as possible, and the minute they tell me I can't go to an audition or whatever, I quit. The minute they try to interfere with my life, I quit.
So, you probably got fired a lot, too.
Oh yeah. One time I was paid to leave.
Shut up. How much?
I forget, like, two or three hundred dollars. This one restaurant made me work on New Year's Eve, and I didn't want to, so I started getting really drunk. I was like, "Fuck it! It's New Years Eve! I'll just keep drinking!" and then I accidently pushed one of the busboys down some stairs-
It was an accident, but they felt like I was a liability at that point, and they said, "You should go." I was like, "I'm not gonna go! You wanted me here, so I'm here! I'm workin' all night, baby!" So they paid me to leave.
OK, last question: when are you going to have your own show?
I don't know - that'd be cool! I hope Parks goes on for a long time, but if it ever ends? Maybe. I never planned on being on TV; that wasn't something I thought I'd be doing, but I really like it! I'd love to have my own show some day, but you know - who knows?
It could be an offshoot of Parks, called April.
I don't know about that - well, maybe. Maybe April could be all grown up and she works for the IRS. I don't know.
Sounds like you've thought about it.
Oh yeah, I've written the show; it's ready. No, I'm kidding. I don't know what the fuck is gonna happen.
Here are some of our favourite clips of Aubrey as April on Parks and Recreation:
Words: Jason Crombie
Photographer: Mike Piscitelli