Aubrey Plaza, the stone-faced comedienne who holds her own among TV’s (arguably) best comedic cast on Parks and Recreation, just returned from what was her biggest Sundance yet.
The actress was there to promote Safety Not Guaranteed, the film based off that famous 90s personal ad in which someone posted, “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me…Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
What turned into an Internet meme and favorite late night joke is now a full fledged movie starring Kristen Bell, New Girl‘s Jake Johnson and Plaza. We talked to the latter about how the watching herself on screen, the film’s surprise ending, and what comes next.
ELLE: Had you seen the movie before its Sundance premiere?
AP: I hadn’t seen the movie before! I didn’t know how it ended; I didn’t know anything about it. I never watched an entire movie with myself and my face on the screen the entire time, so it was a lot happening at once and it was stressful and I have anxiety anyway, so I was on the verge of tears all day. Right before it happened I almost ran away and cried. But it was fine. Everyone seemed to like it so it ended up being really positive!
ELLE: Did the ending surprise you?
AP: I was totally totally shocked! Yeah, I had no idea. It ended in a way that I didn’t think was possible, just story wise and technically—I was really shocked at the ending. I had an idea of what it might be, but I was very wrong. I’m so, so happy with it and with the choices they made. It really reflects how the director sees movies. He uses the movie in a way that I think is just really special and rare.
ELLE: When someone said, ‘They’re making a movie based on a classified ad,’ and sent you the script, what did you think?
AP: l loved it. When it first started I felt that it was special. I hadn’t read a story like that before—a love story with characters like Kenneth and Darius. I think normally when I read love stories the characters kind of fit into these stereotypes, these boxes, like the dork falls in love with the cool girl, and I felt like these characters, you couldn’t peg them as anything really. They’re just human beings that had complicated paths and a lot of layers and they just met somehwere in the middle and had a connection. It felt really real to me and that’s what I was kind of looking for. I wanted to be in a movie that felt authentic. And it was fun and funny! And it felt relevant. I feel like there’s this ironic dis-attachment vibe happening in the past couple of years, given the internet and things going viral and reality shows and this kind of spoke to me, as a way of bringing everything back to positivity and joy. Especially for me because I’m identified as deadpan sarcastic actor, I thought it’d be great to play an actor that branches out and goes deeper and has a real transformation. For the character, but also to prove that I’m an actor and not just a weirdo.
ELLE: In that vein, who do you want to play next?
AP: I would just love any role at this point if I had a choice! Maybe I should really go for it and play a bubbly cheerleader, or something crazy? I just want to keep finding special characters that I feel like I can bring to life and characters that are real and not superficial.