Aubrey Plaza isn’t just a girl who spells her name with a “b” instead of a “d.” She’s the current champion of eye-rolling on TV (as sarcastic intern April on Parks and Recreation) and now film. In the comic-book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, she plays Julie Powers, whose expletive-filled rants against Scott (Michael Cera) are one of the film’s best running gags. We spoke with Plaza about working on a movie with a cult following, seeing Scott Pilgrim at Comic-Con, and the nascent love between Parks and Rec’s April and Andy.
Where did you first see the movie?
I saw it at a screening with thousands of people at Comic-Con — they were going insane, jumping out of their seats. There was this entire mini-amusement-park that was all Scott Pilgrim–themed, called The Scott Pilgrim Experience. And they had us stationed in different areas, like helping fans make T-shirts, signing autographs, and playing video games.
Did you know about the comic book’s cult fan base before you took the part?
I was surprised. I knew the comic books were popular, but I didn’t know just how popular. I honestly didn’t know anything about the series, so I went out and bought all of them — I planned on skimming them, but I read every one in two days. I’m not really into comic books, but I really, really liked these. It was insane seeing people dressed up as different characters from the book, before the movie even came out. Michael Cera actually came in with a gorilla mask on, and so no one knew he was there. He was waiting in line for the different stations — I knew it was him because of his body language; it was pretty funny.
Did you see anyone dressed up as your character?
No, I didn’t see any Julie Powers. I guess, like, that costume would just be a ponytail, glasses, and a barista outfit. Maybe people were dressed like her, but I just didn’t notice.
How do you draw inspiration for a character that basically just curses the entire time?
When we were starting to shoot the film, [director] Edgar [Wright] and [Scott Pilgrim author] Bryan [Lee O’Malley] gave each actor a sheet of ten secret facts about our characters that were maybe not in the books. Some of them informed the characters, and some of them were just kind of silly, like, Julie Powers is allergic to cauliflower or something. And we weren’t allowed to share them with other cast members. And one of my secret facts was that Julie had a massive crush on Scott Pilgrim in college, and he never liked her. So that was helpful, ‘cause I was like, No wonder she hates him.
Amy Poehler just had her baby. When do you get back to Parks and Recreation?
We already shot the first six episodes of season three in May, and we’re still on break until the last week in September. I’m excited to go back; it feels so weird and so long ago that we were shooting. It’s going to feel like, “Back to school!” We’ve done six, and so the seventh episode, watch to see if we look really different. I’m going to try to look really different. Get really tan, really fat, and cut my hair. That would make [co-creator] Greg Daniels happy, I’m sure.
One of my favorite story lines is April and Andy’s bumbling love.
You know, the writers didn’t always have that in mind. It came out of this improvised moment from the finale of season one. Andy’s trying to get everyone to go to his rock show, and he’s trying to explain what kind of music his band plays, and he’s like, “It’s like, Coldplay meets Dave Matthews, meets whatever … ” And everyone’s like, “I don’t get it, I don’t get.” And I didn’t have any lines in the scene, but we did one take where I looked at him with flirty eyes and was like, “I totally get it.” I think the writers caught that and thought, Wow, that might be something — April has a crush on him!
Are you worried about getting typecast as “that girl who rolls her eyes”?
Yeah, I think it would be frustrating if that’s all people expect of me. So I guess my job is to do more things, and do different characters. I talked to Michael Cera about it, and he gets a lot of flack for playing the same kinds of roles. It’s really hard because once you do something and you do it well, people can’t see past it.
Did Cera give you any good advice?
He told me to do as many drugs as possible and just totally lose my mind by the age of 27. Then I should drive my car into a ditch, and reemerge as a romantic-comedy lead.