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Exclusive Interview with Aubrey Plaza for ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’

In the indie movie “Saftety Not Guaranteed,” three Seattle reporters seek the truth on a classified ad for a time traveling companion.

Latino-Review interviewed actor Aubrey Plaza last month to discuss details on the movie.

Plaza plays one of the three reporters who is going to determine if this so-called time traveler is just a lunatic. In her role, she ended up falling in love with the person.

She is best known for her role as April Ludgate in “Parks and Recreation.” She also had roles in movies such as “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Funny People” and “Damsels in Distress.”

“Safety Not Guaranteed” will be her first starring lead role in a movie. It is now currently in theaters.

Read the text interview below.

Latino Review: Aubrey, tell us what attracted you to this role?

Aubrey Plaza: Well, I liked the movie. I liked the script. I thought it was funny, but also all the characters rang true. It seemed real. Not forced. But the role, in particular, was written for me in mind. I had a connection to it before I read it.

I was looking to do something different. And to do a movie that I can flex some muscles that I didn’t have on the TV show and other things that I have done. This seems like a really organic way for me to do that. And to kind of play a character that’s kind in a comfort zone that, I think, people kind of project on to me. They are used to seeing me as a sarcastic, depressed and kind of quirky girl.

It was interesting to me to play a role that I’m starting off in that place. And then I kind of slowly transform into someone else. I thought it would be a cool thing to do.

Latino Review: So you’re basically trying to diversify or not get yourself trapped into that deadpanned stare, sarcastic type of character?

Aubrey Plaza: Yeah, I think so. I think all the things I’ve done up to this point I’m so proud of. I ever so consciously was trying to create a persona. Asan actor, you are offered roles and you take them. Or you don’t take them. I took all of them and I have no regrets.

When you’re on a TV show, I think that you play a certain kind of character especially one like April—she’s very and extreme kind of character. People associate you with that. It’s more of a challenge to do movies and have producers to take risks on you and allow you to play other parts that aren’t like that. Cause people won’t buy it or not going to respond to it.

Latino Review: Are there other types of roles that you would like to play some day?

Aubrey Plaza: Yeah, I would like to play every kind of person ever.

Latino Review: Dramas? Action?

Aubrey Plaza: Oh, yeah. Drama. Action. Horror. Musicals.

Latino Review: Musicals?

Aubrey Plaza: Yeah, I want to do everything. I like the number one thing about people that I aspire to be like or my role models is that that they surprise the audience with new things. That’s the most exciting thing to me about acting. Being able to keep surprising people. Keep people guessing on what you’re going to do next and what you can do.

Latino Review: This is your feature film lead role. How did you feel about that?

Aubrey Plaza: I feel very excited about it. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember to be the lead in a movie. I’m so excited about it. Getting that part and able to do the work—made me so happy. I really wanted that challenge of not coming in and just playing a sarcastic waitress, being funny and then disappearing. I want to play someone that was there and changed that brought you along for the ride. It was really scary.

Latino Review: It was really scary?

Aubrey Plaza: [Laughter] Of course. It was the hardest thing I’ve done, I think. But, that’s what I wanted to do. It was a learning process for me.

Latino Review: Your character started off like any other of your characters at the beginning of “Safety Not Guaranteed.” She was sarcastic and depressed, but started to change and that your fans probably enjoyed the fact that you smiled more.

Aubrey Plaza: I know, right? Like I was saying before, that’s why I like that character. I transformed in front of you. I do smile. I’m not like my character [in real life].

Latino Review: You’re not like your character?

Aubrey Plaza: It’s a little bit of me. It has to be, because I’m me. I’m the only thing that I have to work with. I can’t draw from any other person except for myself. Everything I do comes from a place deep within myself. But, usually it’s only one part of me.

Latino Review: What was the most challenging thing you had to do in this movie?

Aubrey Plaza: I think dealing with Kenneth’s character was the most challenging part of the film. I had to deal with a lot of things at the same time. I had to play a person that was playing a person pretty much. I had to be kind of fooling him into thinking that I’m on his side. At the same time, I was also on his side because I’m falling in love with him. But, at the same time, I was also scared of him and wondering if he was a crazy person.

There are a lot of different layers to our relationship and the dynamics that we had. And that was really challenging is to have all those things in mind when we were doing the scenes and not just go one way with it. Always keep the hesitation towards him and also keep the attraction to him going while dealing with my own baggage.

Latino Review: You’re very known as an improv comedian. Did you do a lot of improv during this movie too?

Aubrey Plaza: No, there were times we improvised a little bit if we felt that we needed to kind of be little more spontaneous tobring something out of each other. That’s more Mark’s [Duplass] style.

I have an improv comedy background. To me, improv comedy is different from improv drama. There is a place and time for that.

But, I love scripts. I would never want to just start writing the scene myself. But there were times when we kind of do a little improv just to keep it fresh and surprise each other. Just to further the script along to make it feel deeper. A lot of it is just the script.

Latino Review: There was one scene in the film in which Mark’s character was training you in the forest. It looked like you were having a lot of fun. But, I understood that you were actually terrified [in firing guns].

Aubrey Plaza: I was terrified, yes, of the guns in particular. We were shooting a low budget movie. There wasn’t a lot of [time], so we kind of have to [shoot] it fast. And we had to be comfortable about it and Mark was lot more comfortable in shooting guns than I was. But, I did have fun. It was exciting. Those were real reactions to him rolling on the ground and shooting at targets. And me being like “aaaahhh!”

Latino Review: You never shot a gun before, was that the reason?

Aubrey Plaza: I shot a gun at the gun range. I never had a gun in my hand in the forest. I’m told that there are blanks in it. But, you always here horror stories about movies where you think there’s a blank in it and someone gets shot. I don’t know, but maybe that’s me worrying.

Latino Review: Without giving way the ending, was that the ending you expected or was that the perfect ending in your mind?

Aubrey Plaza: That was always the perfect ending in my mind. That was not the ending I expected at all. I had no idea that they were going to do that.

I knew how the script ended, and the way on how the movie ends as it is now is not the way the script ended.

Latino Review: The production filmed several endings for the movie, right?

Aubrey Plaza: They filmed a bunch of different endings. It was a secret to me. It was kept from me on how the movie ended. I only saw it at Sundance for the first time with an audience. I was blown away.

Latino Review: If you were going to do this time travel thing—what would your mission be and when?

Aubrey Plaza: I probably would go to the 1960s London or something to see Judy Garland’s last concert. I’ve been obsessed with her since I was a kid. Going back to see her live or something like that would be kind of cool.

Latino Review: What are some of your upcoming projects? I understand you have a couple more movies coming up.

Aubrey Plaza: I am working on a movie next month in Romania with Shia LeBeouf. It’s called “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.”

For movies I have coming out, I have a movie coming out in the fall called “Ten Year” with Channing Tatum. It’s a high school reunion movie.

And then, I have a second film I’ve starred in that’s called “The To Do List.” Or in parenthesis, it’s called “The Hand Job,” the original title to the movie.

Latino Review: It’s like a masturbation and sex movie?

Aubrey Plaza: Yes, it’s a masturbation movie. [Laughter.] No, not really. But yes, we do masturbate in the movie. No spoilers, of course. But, it’s a full on comedy set in 1993. I play the lead, Brandy Clark, who is a type A valedictorian. The character is very different from all the characters I’ve ever played. She’s not sarcastic, depressed or ironic. There’s no irony in anything she says or does. She takes on this summer’s assignment to do all sexual things with guys before she gets to go to college. She knows about sexual experience, but she treats it like homework. She makes a list on all the things that she wants to learn on how to do.

Latino Review: Wow, that’s entirely different.

Aubrey Plaza: Very different. It’s really funny. It’s written and directed by Maggie Carey, who happens to be Bill Hader’s wife. Hader is in the film along with Andy Samberg, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Johnny Simmons and Rachel Bilson.

Latino Review: It sounds like an all-star cast.

Aubrey Plaza: There are a lot of people in the movie that’s really funny. It comes out on Valentine’s Day.

Latino Review: One final question, as a developing actress and a Latina actress, how do you foresee yourself in the future and what are the challenges?

Aubrey Plaza: I hope to remain in the Latina world of actors and someday host the ALMA Awards. That would be pretty awesome. I’m very proud of my Puerto Rican background and I always want people to know that. I am always be proud of that. Hopefully that will infuse some performances in the future.

Latino Review: Thank you very much.


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