Interview: Aubrey Plaza on awkward sex scenes, independent films and why Miley Cyrus is 'awesome'

The To Do List star says that she's actually 45 years old

In your new film, The To Do List, your character makes a to-do list of sexual rites-of-passage, which means you have to masturbate and have sex onscreen. A bit awkward?

It was a little bit awkward because no matter how funny it is, you're still pretending to do a sexual act in front of a bunch of people, but at the same time it's freeing because I'd never done a sex scene before, so in one movie I got them all out of the way. [Plus] she's not supposed to know what she's doing, so that took the pressure off.

You play an 18 year old. Did you feel like a bit Rizzo/Stockard Channing?

As you know, in real life I'm 45 years old, so it was hard for me to remember what it was like to be 18 – I read a lot of my old diaries to try to remember the emotional state you're in when you're in your teens and you have hormones raging and you're the centre of the universe.

This film had a super-tiny budget of $1.5m. Did you have your own trailer?

I wouldn't call it a trailer. We had a stall, like a horse stall. It felt like we were cattle being moved across the country. But the energy on a movie that has a low budget and only four or five weeks to finish is unlike any other experience. You don't have time to over-think anything. You're eating shit food and everyone's tired. You're working 16 hours a day and you're still trying to be funny, so it's hard, but it's also why I love independent films because it's just a magical experience.

You did a great job promoting it – running onstage at the MTV Movie Awards and trying to snatch an award off Will Ferrell.

That incident I'm not allowed to discuss for another four years, and then I'll be holding a press conference where I will give full disclosure.

And who made you sign the non-disclosure agreement?

The devil. Satan himself. That's all I have to say about that.

Talking of MTV events, you've been supportive of Miley Cyrus on Twitter.

I think Miley is awesome and her song is such a good song. Maybe people just don't like change – but too bad! People grow up! It's OK, we must move forward and have fun!

You're from Delaware. We don't know much about Delaware here in Britain.

Here are a few facts about Delaware: second smallest state in the country. And it's tax-free, so people like to come to Delaware to buy booze and cigarettes.

We go to France to pick up our cheap booze and cigarettes…

You know what I'm talking about. There's a very witchy vibe to it, too, there are a lot of forests. There's not much to do there so I think it had an influence on me growing up, because I had to be a creative person and come up with my own ways to entertain myself.

Does your role on Parks and Recreation allow you, financially, to do your independent work?

I don't know if I get paid to do the show, I've never checked on that. But I definitely do feel that it does allow me some freedom – I have a specific window before the season begins to do movies, so it gives me structure. Creatively, it's really fun, too. I'm always reading scripts and looking for interesting parts so I can remind people that I have more abilities than rolling my eyes and making sarcastic comments.


Aubrey Plaza, 29, is an American actor and comedian best known for her roles in Safety Not Guaranteed and Parks and Recreation. Her latest film, a teen comedy called The To Do List, is in cinemas now