Aubrey Plaza has long been known for her quirky sense of humour, best known for playing April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation. But her latest turn may just be her maddest yet, playing social-media stalker Ingrid, who moves to LA and insinuates herself in the life of an Instagram star.
You don't just star in this film, you produced it as well. Why did you want to make this project happen?
I was one of the first people, I think, to read the script luckily - and I just became obsessed with it. I thought it was so good and I had such a clear idea of what the movie could be in my head. When I met with Matt [Spicer, director] we were on the same page. He was interested in collaborating, so we really let the movie evolve during the process from the script to the editing.
And what was it that obsessed you?
I love movies that are real character studies. I just loved the arc that she has and thought it would be amazing to play a part where the movie is from that character's point of view in every single scene.
Who is Ingrid?
She's a young woman who is troubled - living in her deceased mother's house, and I would describe her as having a chemical imbalance or obsessive disorder. When she's confronted with social media it's just a really bad combination for someone like that. At the core she's a really misunderstood girl who wants a friend and wants to connect, but she has a really hard time knowing how to behave. In the film she becomes obsessed with a social-media star and Instagram gives her access to that person and allows her to play out her darkest, most toxic behaviour.
Do you feel like an outsider to LA culture?
I'm from the East Coast and I lived in New York for a long time. I never really planned on living in LA - that just kind of happened. I was cast in Parks and Recreation and it just kept going for seven years. So after a while I was like, "Well I guess I live in LA now". I tend to stay away from the typical LA Hollywood. I stay lurking in the shadows on the East Side with all the New Yorker transplants. I like to live in a place where I can walk around, walk to the coffee shop or whatever. You can have a really peaceful beautiful existence but it is an industry town so you are surrounded by people all trying to do the same thing. That can get mind-numbing after a while.
And what's your social media like?
I didn't have a public Instagram when I was shooting this movie. I only got one a couple of months after in January, so I haven't really been on it that long. I had a private one but it's not part of my life really - I have a hard time with it. It tends to make me feel bad when I go on there so I'm not taking selfies every day, that's not what I'm into.
Professionally, it's the reality of the world we're living in - and it's such a marketing tool. It's interesting that actors can now take control over the story that they're telling about themselves in the media - that's a new thing. But the reality is nowadays if you're up for a role, you hear a lot that the studio is going to go with someone who has a bigger online presence. It's just insane.
When you said it depresses you, why's that?
I think it's hard to not compare yourself to other people constantly when you're being bombarded with these images that are so curated and so perfect. #perfect. You look at it and think - that person's really got it all figured out. They're perfect looking, they're on some crazy vacation and that looks really fun. Why am I never on a vacation? I don't have fun like that . . . you go down a spiral but none of it's real, it's all in your head. As an actor too, anyone can follow you and say whatever in the comments. I don't read comments anymore - I made that mistake too, where you read one good comment and then four really mean ones and your whole day is turned to crap. Your body is hunched over and you're spinning in your brain - it just doesn't seem like a good way to spend your time.
Who: Aubrey Plaza
What: Ingrid Goes West
When: In cinemas now