If you had the chance to go back in time–weapons provided–would you? Before you answer, ask yourself: is going to another point in time really better than cleaning out the toilet at your internship and not having other options? Well, you’d be in the same boat as “Parks And Recreation” star Aubrey Plaza in “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which premiered to near-universal praise at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Based on the fake ad that spawned the legendary YTMND meme, the first feature from writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow takes us to a world where time travel may be possible. So could the fact that Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the would-be time traveler, is as crazy as he sounds.
The Playlist went deep underground (at least one flight below the streets of Park City) to ask Plaza about taking on her first starring role in the Sundance film and what’s in store from upcoming, raunchy comedy “The To Do-List” and Roman Coppola’s “A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charlie Swan” where she got to act opposite the one and only, Charlie Sheen.
This is your first major, stand-alone leading role. How did you throw yourself into that?
It was a combination of “I can’t do this, I will fail, this will be embarassing” and “I’m going to kick ass every day and murder this role and show people I can do more than make sarcastic comments and roll my eyes.” I read the script. I thought it was special—it was a wonderful love story in a totally different way than I had seen before. I was looking for a part that could allow me to have a real transformation.
I think the most important thing for me as an actor is to find roles where I’m playing a human and not a stereotype or someone who can be lumped into a category. One of the special things about this love story is that Mark Duplass’ character and my character aren’t “the cool girl and the dork.” It’s something that you haven’t seen before. It’s just two different kind of people thrown into weird shit and they find a deep connection through it. That’s what was fun and attractive to me script-wise.
Is that something you’re looking for more of now as opposed to the smaller, scene-stealing characters in the background?
I’d like to always move forward. I really would like to show people I’m capable of carrying a movie and capable of having a transformation in a movie; of creating a person that has many layers. That’s just as satisfying to me as playing the best friend that’s really hilarious but a one-note kind of thing. Both of those are really fun for me and I love comedy. It’s where I started out, but I have more to offer than that. I want to take over the world.
You’re also in “The To-Do List,” what can you tell us about that movie?
I don’t know when it’s coming out. It’s almost completed, hopefully it will come out this summer. I haven’t seen it, so it’s hard for me to talk about. But if you put “Safety Not Guaranteed” up against [“To-Do List”] they are so different in the craziest way.
My character is so different in that—I’m an obnoxious Tracy Flick-esque girl, there’s no irony and I’m totally Type-A. I’m really energetic and then I turn into a raging slut that does a lot of weird, pervy things.
You’re also in Roman Coppola’s “A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charlie Swan.” What can you tell us about your role in that film?
I’m not in it that much. Everyone in the movie has an important role despite how long their screen time is. I play Charlie Swan’s [Charlie Sheen] assistant and he’s having a total meltdown, mid-life crisis moment. I’m there to be like, “We have work to do, our company is in trouble, get your shit together!” I have one meaty scene with him, but that’s it. I did get to hang out with Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen at once.
When were you shooting this during the Sheen media frenzy?
It was recent—late fall, winter . I don’t know what the timeline is with his wizardy, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s himself. I think he’s self-aware and people think he’s crazy, but he doesn’t care. He’s awesome.
How was it working with Charlie as an actor?
He’s great. I learned a lot from him, an amazing actor. He’s really natural and you can tell he’s been doing it his whole life. I was terrified to work with him and Roman. I haven’t been in that many movies and I really respect Roman. Charlie’s great—I think he’ll be great in this movie.
“Safety Not Guranteed” continues to screen at the Sundance Film Festival.