Before she hosts the Film Independent Spirits Awards, Aubrey Plaza wants to make one thing clear: She definitely doesn’t have strep throat, despite a recent profile in The New York Times that suggested otherwise.
“Why would they write that I had strep throat? I didn’t want people to know that,” she said in an interview with IndieWire late last week. “No, I don’t care. I’m great. Everything’s great. I feel a lot better.”
Well, there’s one other thing she wants to make clear about the show: “I will not be boring,” she said. “It’s a live show. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I will say that I feel like it is my duty to prove to the world why a host matters, and how great a host can be. And be the hostiest host of all.”
As an awards season host for a show taking place before the host-less Oscars, Plaza has found herself in a unique position. “It’s been insane,” she said. “It’s such a funny time to be gearing up to host a show, when there are literally articles about hosting scandals, and these think pieces about what is a host. You know, these existential questions, do we need a host? It’s a timely opportunity for me to really kind of take the reins, and go, ‘Maybe I’m the answer.'”
Plaza laughed and caught herself. “That doesn’t make any sense!” she said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the films. It’s about the nominees. I’m so honored to do it. I’m so flattered that they had confidence in me, and think that I can pull it off. I think the idea that I’m the only host [on] Oscar weekend is hilarious to me.”
The actress and comedian is no stranger to the Indie Spirits. Last year, the “Legion” star won a Spirit Award of her own, as part of the team behind Matt Spicer’s Best First Feature winner, “Ingrid Goes West.” Plaza, of course, starred as the eponymous Ingrid in the Sundance comedy and also produced the film. She’s eager to get back to a show that’s dedicated to the indie world she loves so much.
“It’s a room of people that have made a small film out of nothing, and have somehow made it to the big awards show with their tiny movie,” she said. “This awards show, more than most awards shows, has a more kind of freeform open kind of vibe. They’ve given me zero parameters. No rules, nothing.” She likened it to staging her own “Waiting for Guffman.”
That’s not to say that there hasn’t been plenty of prep, and while Plaza could only hint at the possibilities for surprise guests on the day of the show, she did call up Andy Samberg — who hosted the event in 2013 and has returned to sing the “Breakfast Club in memoriam” tribute since then.
“He put it so perfectly,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, you know, at first it feels like you’re just grasping at smoke in the air. Like, there’s nothing to hang onto. But then once you get in the groove, and you start figuring out the shape of the show, then it all starts to feel more realized and fun.’ I think we’re getting to that point now, so we’re having a good time.”
Recent iterations of the show have boasted a pair of hosts — Nick Kroll and John Mulaney followed Kumail Nanjiani and Kate McKinnon. Plaza will be flying solo, and while she said she initially toyed with the idea of finding a partner, she opted to go at it alone. “It’s just a more baller move to just go it alone,” she said. “I mean, I could fall flat on my face, so maybe I’ll regret that, and it’ll be documented on live television for the future years to come.”
She had no plans to skew political. “That’s not what I do,” she said. “That’s not what I’m not known for. I don’t think anyone’s interested in hearing my views on politics, or what’s happening.”
Still, she conceded, “We’re living in a very strange, very charged time, so I think you can’t avoid talking about some of those things. And things change so quickly, who knows what gonna happen next week? I mean, something insane could go down politically. And I’m not afraid to talk about anything if it’s relevant.”
The 2019 Spirit Awards are set to return to their usual home inside the big white tent just north of the Santa Monica Pier on Saturday, February 23, and will be broadcast live on IFC.