Calling from Los Angeles, one of the best [and most magical] human beings ever [and Evil Hag Queen in-training] - a.k.a. AUBREY PLAZA - enlightened Coup De Main on her upcoming new film 'SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED'...
"I do have magical powers, I try to use them for good and not evil, but I can pretty much make anyone do whatever I want them to do, if they're within range."
COUP DE MAIN: How did it make you feel to know that the role of Darius [Britt] was written specifically for you?
AUBREY PLAZA: I was very flattered, no-one has ever done that for me before - at least not that I know of. I just couldn't believe that someone would be so inspired to do that, so I was a little scared about it at first because I just wanted to like it so much. I was hoping that it wasn't bad! Because that would be sad if someone wrote something for me and it was terrible. But it was good! I was really excited about it but also scared by the idea of trying to live up to the writer's expectations of what he wanted it to be. But it was a really great challenge that I took on and I'm really glad that I did it.
CDM: What are the main similarities or differences between yourself and Darius?
AUBREY: Darius is coming from a place of... she's very closed off to the world, she had a very tragic thing happen in her childhood that's kept with her, she's quite depressed at the beginning of the movie because of that. I've never had anything like that in my life, so I definitely can relate to being down and closed-off at certain times in my life, but not in the way that she is. Also in the film, she meets some-one that opens her up in a way and she has a transformation and grows from it, and I can relate to that. I've had experiences in my life where I've met certain people that have opened up something in me and given me hope and a new outlook on life, so that's something that I can relate to with Darius. Also, her wardrobe is pretty much what I would wear. I would say that we are very similar in how we would dress too.
CDM: What are your favourite lines of Darius' in the film?
AUBREY: Oohhh that's a good question, no-one has ever asked me that before. I love all the scenes when I'm with Karan and Jake - KARAN [SONI] plays Arnau and JAKE [JOHNSON] plays Jeff - I love all those scenes! I think there's some really funny scenes that we have that were really fun, like when I'm talking about [how] "he's not a freaking Stormtrooper..." - I like that line a lot, that's one of my favourites.
CDM: Darius starts off very similar to your character in 'Parks And Recreation' - a sarcastic intern who is relatively closed off from the world. But throughout the film there is a transformation where Darius is able to dabble in some action scenes, and the relationship between her and Kenneth develops. Did you enjoy branching out a little in terms of acting styles?
AUBREY: I did! Once you do a character in Hollywood and people haven't seen you before, they put you in a box and they think that's all that you can do and it's hard to get people to take a risk on you. Especially, to put me as a leading lady in a movie. I've always wanted to do all kinds of roles, dramatic roles and comedic roles, all kinds of roles, so I feel that this is kind of a step in a different direction. I love all the characters that I've played before, but I always want to keep growing and keep surprising people, and showing them different parts of me because there are many different sides than just my April [Ludgate] side.
CDM: You've done your fair share of internships both on-screen and in real-life - but if you could intern for anyone alive or dead, who would you choose?
AUBREY: Maybe The President Of The United States? The most powerful man! <laughs> That'd be pretty fun, I could probably do some weird stuff in The White House.
CDM: If you had Jake and Karan as your real-life interns for a week, what would you make them do for you?
AUBREY: I would make them wage war against each other - try and ruin each other's lives. It'd be funny. I'd make Karan cook for me because he's a really great cook and I like Indian food, so I'd make him cook Indian food for me. And I would make Jake go shopping for me because I know that he hates shopping and I love to torture him.
CDM: At the end of the film, Kenneth makes a grand romantic gesture for Darius - what's the most romantic thing you've ever done?
AUBREY: Oh god. Thinking! I don't know... I don't have anything good to say there. Pass!
CDM: What's the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?
AUBREY: My first boyfriend that I ever had, actually sang a song that he wrote for me on-stage to ask me out. So that was pretty romantic. [And] I had a bunch of really weird stuffed animals when I lived in New York, and my ex-boyfriend while I was gone in Africa for a month, he took all my stuffed animals and he made a photo album of him and my stuffed animals, like all over the city doing things that I like to do. So, that's kinda romantic in a creepy way.
CDM: Your first boyfriend that you just talked about, was that John Gallagher, Jr.?
AUBREY: Yeah! How'd you know that?
CDM: I just read an interview where he talks about you being each other's first loves!
AUBREY: Yes! And now he's on 'The Newsroom' show, it's so funny, you know. You never know! You just never know what's going to happen I guess. It's weird to think that we're both out here doing the same thing, but I've known him since I was twelve-years-old.
CDM: If you could travel back in time to change any event, what would you travel back to?
AUBREY: I would travel back to seventh grade and change every single thing that I wore that year, because everything that I wore was terrible. Is that a selfish thing to achieve?
CDM: Definitely not. Speaking of being un-selfish... I love 'Safety Not Guaranteed' a lot, it's definitely one of my favourite movies I've seen so far this year. But people can be lazy about going to cinemas these days, so what would you say to urge people to to go and see 'Safety Not Guaranteed' as soon as it's released in New Zealand cinemas?
AUBREY: Oh my god, thank you so much! I have to say that I think that our movie is kind of like no other movie that you could see this Summer, for sure. I think it's nice to get a break from all of the big Hollywood comic book action-movies and see something that's relatable and funny and interesting. It's a romantic comedy with a sci-fi element which I think is really cool and different. I just don't think that there's that many movies like this, out there. Also the movie theatre is very nice and cold, and it's really hot out, so that's a good thing too.
CDM: Sorry, I think it's a Spring release for us here. But it'll probably still be quite cold.
AUBREY: Well! The movie theatre is really warm, so go there.
CDM: I also feel like 'Safety Not Guaranteed' has a lot of 'heart'.
AUBREY: Yeah, I think so too. That was what we wanted to happen, we didn't want it to be cookie-cutter romance, we wanted all the characters to be interesting and fully developed. So I hope that people get that when they see it.
CDM: If you woke up one day to realise that 'secret agents' have been following you everywhere, what would be your first reaction?
AUBREY: <laughs> I would be like: "I am so sorry that my life is so boring and that I don't do anything." I'm such a homebody that they'd probably fall asleep if they were following me. And then I would apologise for all the terrible movies that I went to, because I go see so many movies, I don't care if they're bad or good, so they'd probably have had to sit through a lot of bad movies with me.
CDM: Your sister auditioned to play a younger version of Darius, but was told she didn't look enough like you. Does an acting gene run in your family?
AUBREY: Well, my younger sister [Natalie] was in the movie actually, but when they edit the movie I guess they have to change certain things, so she didn't make it into the final cut only because the story element changed. But she is really, really talented, and she does all of the theatre camps that I used to do when I was her age. She's fifteen. And my middle sister [Renee] who is twenty, is not really interested in acting at all, we're very different. She's a snowboarder and she's into environmental design and she's really, really cool in a different way. But I don't have many actors in my family, but I do have a Great Uncle that is a film-maker in Philadelphia, and my great-great-grandparents were Flamenco dancers in the 30's in New York, they were Spanish dancers.
CDM: I loved that you played saxophone for The Spring Standards live on 'Conan' recently. Is that something you do regularly, or just for that special occasion?
AUBREY: I have not played the saxophone since high school, so no, that is definitely not something that I do regularly. But I've known The Spring Standards since I was a kid and we just wanted to do something really fun and different. I learnt how to play the saxophone in the jazz band at school and I still have it, so I kinda just whipped it out and James Smith helped me figure out the little thing that I do at the end, and I practised for a couple of days but it was terrifying. But I would do it again maybe, someday.
CDM: I'm so jealous you guest-starred on 'Portlandia'. I love Carrie Brownstein!
AUBREY: Oh my god! Yes!! Carrie is AMAZING. That was one of the most fun things I've ever done, working with her and Fred Armisen. They were seriously, like the funniest people I've ever worked with.
CDM: In your opinion, who is THE Queen of all Evil Hags?
AUBREY: <laughs> Oh my goodness, what a good question. <starts humming to herself> I don't want to offend anyone. I mean, to me, 'evil hag' is a good thing. So I'm going to say, Bette Midler is a good one - she was an amazing evil hag that I love and she is one of my heroes. She is one of my evil hag heroes, she was a pretty great hag in the 'Hocus Pocus' movie.
CDM: As an evil hag yourself, do you have any magical powers?
AUBREY: I do have magical powers, I try to use them for good and not evil, but I can pretty much make anyone do whatever I want them to do, if they're within range.
CDM: If you were offered a role as an orc in the upcoming 'The Hobbit' movies but you had to pay your own way to get to New Zealand for filming, would you do it?
AUBREY: YES! I would pay. I would give all the money that I have to be in that movie, I would give everything! <laughs>
CDM: What's your favourite Judy Garland movie?
AUBREY: 'A Star Is Born'. That's my favourite movie, ever. I love that movie so much.
CDM: What was it like working with Whit Stillman on 'Damsels In Distress'?
AUBREY: It was so much fun! He is a very interesting director and very particular, it was a very different experience than I've had in any other movie I've worked on, because he's so particular about the dialogue. You have to say every word exactly as it's written. And I'm such a spoilt improviser, I'm not used to that so it was a challenge for me, but it was really good for me and I would love to work with him again. I just think he's such a brilliant director with an interesting voice, there's really no-one quite like him.
CDM: That's another of my favourite movies from this year, so far.
AUBREY: I know! I loved it too. It's so funny and so weird and different.
CDM: 'The To Do List' is the next film I think we'll see you in, after 'Safety Not Guaranteed'. What was it like working with Rachel Bilson and Alia Shawkat?
AUBREY: It was amazing. Rachel Bilson is so funny in the movie, she plays my slutty older sister and I have sisters in real-life, so it was really fun to play with her. There's so much screaming and hair-pulling that goes on between us, it's pretty amazing. And I don't think you get to see Rachel Bilson really be 'funny'... but in this movie, she's going to really kill it. I think people are going to be so excited to see her in this part. And Alia Shawkat is one of my best friends in real-life, so that was really a dream-come-true, getting to work with her and have her be playing my best friend in the movie, it was really fun.
CDM: Lastly, do you have a message for New Zealand?
AUBREY: Thank you for watching! I didn't know New Zealand got to see anything that I was in - and can I please stay at your house and live with you for a Summer? I want to go to New Zealand. I have no idea what it's like, and in my head, everyone lives in/on an ice lake, so I'd like to come stay. So if any of my fans out there would please allow me to stay, let me know on Twitter, and then I'll come.
'SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED' will be released in New Zealand cinemas on October 18th, 2012 - starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson.
Watch the trailer for 'Safety Not Guaranteed' below...