After deadpanning for seven seasons on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Aubrey Plaza plays the life of the party in the raunchy rom-com Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, out July 8 in theaters. Now she’s cordially inviting everybody else to get their freak on too.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Mike and Dave is your second movie with Zac Efron, after Dirty Grandpa. Is my infatuation reasonable or basic?
Aubrey Plaza: I totally get it, and I’m definitely into it. He’s superhuman and such a sweetheart. I love him. One of my gay friends really appreciates when I send him casual shirtless pics of Zac from set. I try not to objectify him, but it’s hard.
Are you aware of your own LGBT following?
Yeah. I mean, it makes sense to me. I feel like I operate in an old-school way that only gays truly understand. So for me it’s the ultimate compliment. My tastes are like an older gay man’s, and I think that’s who I really am. Like, I grew up obsessed with Judy Garland, and I was also obsessed with how much she meant to her following.
When did your relationship with gay people begin?
Community theater was a huge part of my life. I did a lot of plays at the Wilmington Drama League in Delaware, and there was this gay community there that really welcomed me. All my friends were gay. I went to an all-girls Catholic school in a very conservative neighborhood, but I felt at 12, 13 that my home was this theater and that those were my people.
What about your real home?
My family’s always been very open. I have a gay aunt and a gay uncle, and I grew up thinking that everyone had a gay aunt or uncle. My younger sister is a lesbian, so it’s just in my blood, I guess. She came out to me when she was 17 or 18, and for, like, a millisecond I was surprised. Then I replayed our entire life in my mind, and I was like, “Of course! Of course I know that!” She’s my best friend. She recently moved to L.A. and into my neighborhood, and I’m so happy.
You seem to take great pride in being offbeat. Have you always embraced your weirdness?
Being in a very Irish Catholic, Republican area, my community theater taught me at an early age that it’s OK to stand out and let your freak flag fly. I felt it was important to inspire people to be their authentic selves by making a fool of myself and not caring what others thought. Even though I have my own insecurities, I’ve always had this mission of disrupting social norms.
Tell me about Tatiana and Alice, the hot messes that you and Anna Kendrick play in Mike and Dave.
My whole personal backstory for Tatiana and Alice is that they met on an episode of Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club. They were, like, the alpha girls in the house who took everybody else down, and that’s how they became best friends. They probably make out when they’re wasted. I realize that, with Dirty Grandpa, I’ve done two movies back to back where my character is all tan, wearing bikinis, and partying like crazy. I was never really like that, but luckily, I have people in my life who were or still are.
Your Mike and Dave costars Anna, Zac, and Adam DeVine have all been in major movie musicals. Would you like to do a musical?
Well, I love musicals. The first musical I ever did was Cinderella. I was an ugly stepsister. It’s actually a dream of mine to be in a musical on Broadway. I have a plan with Megan Mullally to do a revival of Gypsy where she plays Mama Rose and I play Louise. It’s gonna happen.
The role of April in Parks and Rec was written for you. At the beginning of the series, she was dating an openly gay guy. What inspired that?
That was my idea. We thought it would be a strange and funny situation for the more traditional characters to deal with. It’s also funny because Blake Lee, who played my gay boyfriend, is actually my gay best friend. I was just in his wedding.
You played a lesbian Krav Maga instructor in Addicted to Fresno. How did you approach the character?
It was less about pretending to be a lesbian and more about portraying a human being with a massive crush on Natasha Lyonne’s character. Natasha’s a friend, and she called me up, like, “Do you want to come do a movie and make out with me?” I have a major crush on her in real life, so it was fun.
You also butched it up opposite Marisa Tomei in the short film She Said, She Said.
That was way too short. I was like, “Can’t we do a whole movie where I get to come on to Marisa Tomei?”
Do women come on to you?
Oh, yeah. I don’t mind. I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there’s something masculine about my energy. Girls are into me — that’s no secret. Hey, I’m into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys. I can’t help it.
You voiced one of the world’s most famous felines in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. What’s her deal?
Yep, Grumpy Cat is definitely gay. And people just need to deal with it.
August/September 2016; extended online version.