The star of Parks and Recreation and this month’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Aubrey Plaza makes audiences laugh without cracking a smile.A good rule of thumb to remember when meeting Hollywood actors is that they are not, in fact, the character for which they’re known. This rule, however, doesn’t entirely apply to actress Aubrey Plaza. On the hit show Parks and Recreation, Plaza plays the sarcastic, eye-rolling April Ludgate — a character not altogether different from the real-life 28-year-old, for whom the role of April was specifically written due in large part to her trademark snark and dry comedic delivery.
But while a deadpan expression and sharp-witted one-liners may be Plaza’s forte, don’t expect her to be apathetic about her career. She made waves at last year’s Sundance Film Festival as the lead in the quirky time-travel movie Safety Not Guaranteed. She also has a supporting role in this month’s Roman Coppola–directed flick A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, opposite Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Charlie Sheen, as well as parts in upcoming films The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and The To Do List, due out later this year. While her work has occasionally led to a few embarrassing moments — filming some awkward love scenes for The To Do List chief among them — Plaza wouldn’t trade her career for anything. “There were definitely moments [while filming those love scenes] when I would think, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is the worst moment of my life,’ ” she says, before adding with almost uncharacteristic enthusiasm, “[But] it’s amazing to be able to drive up to a studio every day and know that you’re living out your dream.”
It doesn’t hurt when your dream gig involves laughing all day long. Plaza praises her Parks and Rec co-stars Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt, saying there’s so much laughter between takes that they sometimes forget they’re actually working. But, Plaza says, they’ve got some competition. “Fred Armisen is the funniest actor I’ve ever worked with,” she says. “When I was on Portlandia, he was so funny that in one scene, I had to literally pinch my leg so I wouldn’t laugh. I did it so hard that I was bleeding.”
Plaza isn’t the only one laughing. Whether it’s on the big or small screen, she’s continuing to prove her comedic chops — her face even appears alongside the likes of Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres and Kristen Wiig on the cover of the recently released book We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy — and is gaining new fans one eye roll and awkward encounter at a time.