'Parks and Recreation' Star Aubrey Plaza Has a Black Belt in Deadpan Humor
Aubrey Plaza negged Ryan Gosling hard one time, but she swears she didn't mean to. "I was at this juice bar, and he came in," the Parks and Recreation star recalls at a softball diamond in Encino, California, where members of the Parks cast and crew are getting their asses handed to them by some Disney show.
"I didn't recognize him. He said, 'I'm a big fan of the show,' and I said, 'Thank you. Are you an actor?' He kind of smirked and said, 'Yeahhh...' I asked his name, and he said, 'Ryan,' but it didn't click. I was like, 'We worked together, didn't we? You look so familiar.' He kept smirking, like I was messing with him. I got my juice and left." Plaza sighs. "I missed my shot." She's summoned to the plate, where she slams out a base hit. "She's got a hell of a swing," a crew dude says on the bench. You can't blame Gosling for being wary around Plaza.
At 27, with scene-stealing roles in Funny People and on Parks - in which she plays the eternally eye-rolling April Ludgate - she's proven a deadpan black belt. (Google the Leno appearance where Plaza gives Steven Tyler a master class in stilted timing.)
"I'm pretty sarcastic, so people that don't know me may think I'm a bitch," she says. What keeps her from seeming mean is her shyness and tamped-down goofiness.
Of her awkward late-show appearances, she says, "I'm not supercomfortable in my skin. I have to make it work for me, and that usually amounts to making it uncomfortable for everyone else."
Growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, Plaza was a class clown. When she decided her Catholic school needed a mascot, she put on a cape and a beekeeper's mask: "I'd climb the scaffolding and pretend I was going to fly off. The nuns would get upset."
She became student-council president and, while at NYU, took improv classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade. Scoring a manager, she landed Parks, Funny People and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, all in a single week.
She's got more on the horizon, including The Hand Job, about a prude on a sexual-experimentation spree, and Safety Not Guaranteed, about two writers who answer an ad from a guy looking for someone to go time-traveling with.
Her challenge now is showing range without betraying her instincts. "My people would love it if I smiled more, if I was more 'approachable,' " she says. "I don't give a shit about being approachable, but I do care about a big-time director thinking, 'She couldn't be a vulnerable emotional lead in my big Oscar-worthy film.' Would I smile for that? Yes." And then she smiles.
Aziz in his Halloween costume
Power of Comedy to honor Poehler
Amy Poehler will receive the 2011 Power of Comedy award at Variety's second annual Power of Comedy confab Nov. 19.
Peformers and presenters for the event, taking place at the Hollywood Palladium, include Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, Casey Wilson, the Upright Citizens Brigade, Million Dollar Strong and the Dan Band.
The evening of stand-up and sketch perf will again benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, which focuses on prevention and treatment of women's cancer.
Poehler, a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, "Saturday Night Live" alum and star of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," will be presented the award by fellow "SNL" vet Ferrell.
"Last year's event was an incredible success, raising a quarter of a million dollars for women's cancer research, and we're excited to once again gather some of our industry's finest comedians to honor the very funny Amy Poehler and surpass that goal," said Michelle Sobrino, associate publisher of Variety.
Some 1,500 guests, encompassing Hollywood VIPs and comedy fans, are expected to attend. Event is presented by Electronic Arts' "Sims 3" vidgame. Supporting partners include Skype.
Ticket prices range from $55-$350; VIP packages range from $5,000 to $15,000. Go to Variety.com/poc or call Lauran at 310-201-5033 for tix.
Spoiler for Episode 4.12
AUDREY SCOTT will play Young Leslie Knope
oyster #95: aubrey plaza
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.
Chris Pratt: Wife Anna Faris Is "Trying to Fatten Me Up!"
Thanks to his wife Anna Faris' baking skills, Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt has packed on a few pounds over the course of their two-year marriage.
"She would make me strudel for breakfast. Apple strudel, like a whole pan of it. Probably about 4,000 calories!" he told Us Weekly at Thursday's Bon Appetit moving party in L.A. "She's trying to fatten me up, I guess!"
Pratt, 32, will have to keep himself in check when they visit Faris' family in Washington for the holidays.
"My mom is an amazing cook. She cooks a huge feast," Faris, 34, told Us. "She makes about 11 different kinds of pies. I love banana cream, but she usually doesn't do that for Thanksgiving. She makes blueberry, apple, mixed berry, pumpkin, pecan, apple -- she does a lot!"
To stay active, the couple often takes their two pugs on hikes in California. "They're exhausting! They're so hyper!" Faris explained. "If I don't take them out, they will just wreak havoc around the house!"
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