Aubrey Plaza's dry sense of humor and deadpan delivery have served her well as secretary turned deputy director of animal control April Ludgate on NBC's Parks and Recreation. The 29-year-old actress has become so closely associated with her TV character, however, that some fans have trouble differentiating Plaza from her onscreen persona.
"I was in New Orleans this spring, and a guy came up to me and screamed, 'It's you, it's you! Say something you would say,' and I went, 'Leave me alone!,' and he was like 'Oh, that was perfect! Do it again.' And I was like, 'No, really, leave me alone!'" Plaza recalls in the Fall 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan for Latinas. "I was thinking that it's awesome that I play this mean character. It's kind of hilarious because I think I have a 'mean-girl pass' at this point. I could say whatever I want!"
Not every joke has gone over so well -- like when Plaza crashed the stage and interrupted Will Ferrell's acceptance speech during the MTV Movie Awards in April. Even so, the Delaware native says she finds most things funny. "Humor is the way I deal with everything. Whether it was a sh-tty job, a boring class, or anything, my brain is always looking at it through that lens," she explains. "It's probably some kind of defense mechanism."
Plaza gets plenty of laughs in The To Do List, a coming-of-age comedy set in 1993 about a recent high school graduate who makes it her mission to hook up with multiple men before her freshman year of college. "You don't have time to get nervous," she says of the raunchy flick, in theaters now. "Sometimes when you're shooting independent movies the pacing of it is so crazy, it all feels like you're in the army."
When the star looked at her shooting schedule for The To Do List, she remembers, "it was like 'so today I'm gonna have to give someone a bl-w job, hump a pillow, masturbate in front of everyone.' So I'd be like 'Oh, my god,' and I would let myself freak out about it for like three minutes in my trailer, and then I would be like 'done.' I'm in the army, I have to just do it, ignore everyone else, and just make it funny," she says. "I think like, the fact that it was a comedy, I got to find the humor in it."
One person who never fails to make Plaza laugh is her boyfriend, screenwriter/director Jeff Baena. "He's a creative person and we understand each other on that level," she tells Cosmopolitan for Latinas of the filmmaker, who co-wrote 2004's I Heart Huckabees. "When we're together we like hanging out at home. We're happy having people over and playing Settlers of Catan or Battlestar Galactica. We're kind of dorks."