Aubrey Plaza gets a chance to evolve her deadpan persona in Safety Not Guaranteed, a sorta-sci-fi/sorta-rom-com that played at Sundance this week to a gangbusters reception. (Expect a sale soon.) When the movie begins, Plaza's not too dissimilar from her Parks and Recreation character April Ludgate: She plays an undermotivated magazine intern who's tasked with tracking down a potential crackpot (Mark Duplass) who thinks he can time-travel. But as she starts to unexpectedly fall for him, Plaza gets to add some new dramatic notes to her repertoire. Vulture sat down with her yesterday to discuss her onscreen evolution, why she wanted to throw up before the movie premiered, and why Eva Mendes had better watch out.
Safety Not Guaranteed got a huge reception at its premiere. Foot-stomping, theater-shaking applause.
Yeah, it was crazy. It was the first time I saw it, so I was in a whole other [frame of mind].
That’s the ideal way to see a movie for the first time, I would think.
Yes, except that I have massive anxiety, insecurity issues, though, so I almost cried before it started and almost left, because I was like, I just don’t think I can do this. It was a tense experience. I think in the beginning I was still super nervous and I didn’t know where it was going to go, and I was like, Ah, my big fucking face everywhere! No! It was like a nightmare, a living nightmare. But then I started getting into the story and forgetting it was me, and then I was just obsessed with the movie.
You have that anxiety when you go to a screening, but when you signed on to the role, did you have any qualms?
Oh, no. I was so excited about the script; I thought it was great. I was looking for a role that would sort of allow me to branch out of this sarcastic, deadpan zone that I’ve sort of been in, mostly because of the TV show that I’m on, which is something I really like doing, but I was hoping to have something a little deeper going on and felt like this was the perfect opportunity. I wanted to show people that I’m capable of doing more, but it’s hard because people don’t take risks a lot of times. They see you do one thing, and they just want to see it over and over again. And Collin really trusted me to kind of create that transformation. So, yeah. That was my hope.
So you never get offered bubbly blondes?
No. But soon, you know. Baby steps.
It’s like Parks and Rec took over Sundance this year. You’re here, Rashida Jones wrote a movie, Aziz Ansari performed, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are in Smashed ...
Yeah, I know.
Am I forgetting anybody?
House of Lies screened. Ben Schwartz is involved with that. Jean-Ralphio!
Did they take a week off of production, or is Amy Poehler there shooting an episode all by herself?
They start shooting today, actually. Amy’s there, probably with Rob [Lowe] and Adam [Scott], and then tomorrow I’m there first thing.
Is this your first Sundance?
I was here a couple years ago for Mystery Team, but I didn’t do any press or anything. I just watched my screening and that was pretty much it. So this is different.
Did you get any tips from your co-stars who have been here a whole bunch of times?
They were just like, "Always be drunk, always have a flask."
That’s implied at Sundance. You don’t need a flask, there’s so much free booze around.
I noticed that yesterday. [She sips her cup.]
As you take a drink.
You know, this is not coffee. Yeah, Sundance is not really [about everything else], it’s just about the movies. I haven’t even been thinking of anything beyond, I’m just excited to see the finished product.
On a totally different note, I’m curious how you got involved in that recent World of Warcraft commercial. Is this something that you play?
I’ve played it, yeah.
Were you ever really into it? Because there’s not a whole lot of casual play with World of Warcraft.
I was never a diehard fan, but I’m really into dragons and elves and wizards and magical, dorky hag-things. So, it was kind of right up my alley. I don’t really have a lot of time to play video games, but if I did, I would definitely play. And I have it. Yeah, that was something that kind of came out of nowhere. They approached me, and I was like, No way. And then I was like, Wait, World of Warcraft? That’s kind of awesome, I think I’m going to do that. I would never do a commercial for something that is embarrassing, and I think that people maybe have a different perspective on what is embarrassing or not. Some people think doing a Revlon hair commercial is really cool. To me, that’s embarrassing, but World of Warcraft: not embarrassing, very cool.
I was thinking that the other day at CVS, that you can see the face of almost every actress in the makeup aisle. It’s almost a rite of passage for some movie stars to do these beauty campaigns.
Yeah. I’m not going to say never say never, but I’d rather do a World of Warcraft ad than, like, a lipstick commercial. Just because. And also they told me when they approached me about it that they were going to do, like, one of the commercials and have me be a character in the game and go into the game and be like fighting elves and shit, and I thought that was really cool. So, that’s why I said yes.
And have you heard from Ryan Gosling since you told Rolling Stone that he came up to you at a Jamba Juice but you shut him down because you didn't recognize him?
I actually did hear from him one time. He invited me to a magic show through someone else, and I couldn’t go because I had to go to this charity thing for Amy, and it was like, "bros before hos," or "hos before bros," however that phrase goes. I just rhymed a lot. So, yeah. I don’t know what’s in store for me and him. I think he has a girlfriend, but maybe I’ll murder her someday and we’ll be together forever.