Aubrey Plaza has become one of the most popular and beloved actresses in Hollywood over the past decade.
From her breakout role as April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation to her starring turns in films like Ingrid Goes West and Emily the Criminal, Plaza has garnered a passionate fanbase drawn to her unique comedic talents and enigmatic onscreen persona.
But what exactly is it about Plaza that makes her so appealing to audiences? Here’s a closer look at the key reasons why people love Aubrey Plaza:
Her Deadpan Comedy Style
One of Plaza’s signature qualities is her deadpan style of comedy. As April Ludgate on Parks and Rec, Plaza played the sullen intern who would deliver biting one-liners in a completely earnest, emotionless manner.
This contrast between the absurdity of her lines and her serious delivery struck a chord with viewers who found it hilarious.
Plaza has cultivated this same comedic approach in many of her film and TV roles, maintaining a straight face amidst ridiculous scenarios. Her deadpan style gives her characters a sly, subtle humor that fans can’t get enough of.
Her Anti-Social Persona Onscreen
In interviews and public appearances, Plaza often plays up her image as that disaffected, too-cool-for-school girl, leaning into her reputation as a bit of a curmudgeon or loner.
While mostly just an act, this persona has become embedded in many of her most iconic roles. As April on Parks, she was the antisocial intern who hated everything except Andy Dwyer.
In films like Ingrid Goes West and The To Do List, she portrayed misanthropic characters who have difficulty connecting with others. Plaza takes these almost misanthropic characters and makes them funny, relatable, and even endearing. Fans feel connected to her outsider persona.
Her Range as a Dramatic Actress
While Plaza has built her reputation on comedy, she has also impressed audiences with her ability to take on more serious, dramatic roles. Films like Ingrid Goes West and An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn have shown Plaza flexing strong dramatic acting chops.
But it was her performance in the 2022 film Emily the Criminal where Plaza displayed the full range of her talent. As a down on her luck debtor who gets involved in criminal credit card schemes, Plaza drew praise for her nuanced portrayal of a complex character.
Critics hailed it as a career-best performance and proof of her skill as a dramatic actress. This ability to deliver in both comedy and drama makes her an exciting performer to watch.
Her Relatability and Vulnerability Onscreen
As much as Plaza often portrays prickly characters, she also imbues them with a relatability and vulnerability that resonates with viewers. Even when playing a disaffected intern, Plaza lets small moments of humanity shine through, hinting at the insecurities and struggles underlying the detached exterior.
Films like Safety Not Guaranteed, Dirty Grandpa, and Happiest Season have all allowed Plaza to peel back the layers of her characters gradually, revealing a flawed but sympathetic person underneath. This relatability makes her characters feel real and draws viewers deeper into her performances.
Her Offbeat Personality and Sense of Humor
Part of being a Plaza fan means enjoying her eccentric personality and off-kilter sense of humor. She has described her own comedic sensibilities as dark and weird.
This comes through not just in her acting roles but her public persona, talk show appearances, and Saturday Night Live hosting gigs where she’s played up her strange, gothy image for laughs.
Plaza delights in keeping people guessing, whether she’s trolling her co-stars in interviews or keeping a straight face through bizarre late night talk show segments. Fans love her willingness to be unabashedly strange and lean into her own brand of awkward, offbeat comedy.
Her Collaborations with Top Creative Talent
From her early days working with Amy Poehler and Mike Schur on Parks and Rec, Plaza has consistently surrounded herself with top-tier creative talent on both TV and film projects.
She’s worked with acclaimed directors like Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha), Jeff Baena (The Little Hours), and Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers). And frequent collaborators like Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Clea DuVall (Happiest Season) have helped shape her career.
Plaza seems to have a keen eye for stellar scripts and rising filmmakers, showing savvy in her selective project choices. The strength of her collaborators and costars has elevated Plaza’s own performances.
Her Commitment to Interesting, Offbeat Projects
While Plaza certainly appears in some mainstream comedies and big studio films, she makes a point to take on projects that are quirky, conceptual, or just plain weird.
From indie films like Ned Rifle and An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn to her new FX series The White Lotus, Plaza consistently opts for the idiosyncratic over the conventional.
Even when taking on broader roles, she finds ways to subvert expectations and bring her signature off-kilter perspective. Her commitment to strange, conceptual projects appeals to those with more eclectic tastes.
Her Dry, Sarcastic Sense of Humor
Plaza has one of the sharpest tongues and driest wits in Hollywood. Her sense of humor is biting but understated. She’s a master of the sly sarcastic aside rather than the noisy, over-the-top gag.
Plaza knows exactly how to undercut and deflate pretentiousness with one subtly scathing, perfectly-timed line.
Her onscreen personas are often vessels to deliver eloquently witty takedowns of those around them. It’s a refined, intelligent form of sarcasm and cynicism that Plaza deploys like a pro. Fans can’t get enough of her constant zingers.
Her Willingness to Take Risks and Subvert Expectations
As Plaza’s career has progressed, she continually challenges herself and her audience by taking on against-type roles and subverting expectations.
Going from moody comedy work to emotionally complex dramas displays an admirable willingness to move beyond her comfort zone. And even when playing into her persona, Plaza finds ways to twist the tropes to keep it fresh.
Her deadpan styles takes sudden dramatic turns. Her socially detached characters reveal layers of hidden depth. Whether it’s her project choices or performance style, Plaza keeps us guessing.
She Balances Mainstream Appeal with Indie Cred
Part of Plaza’s unique popularity stems from the way she straddles the mainstream and independent film worlds. She leverages her mainstream recognizability from projects like Parks and Rec to help get smaller indie films financed and seen by larger audiences.
And she uses the street cred of those critically acclaimed indie performances to land more prominent Hollywood roles.
Plaza has found a way to have her cake and eat it too, blending commercial success with respected creative work. It’s an appealing balance for fans who like Plaza’s mainstream work but also want to see her flex her acting chops.
Her Collaborative Spirit and Support of Fellow Performers
While Plaza’s characters may be misanthropic loners, Plaza herself is a beloved colleague and collaborator. Her frequent work with creative partners highlights her willingness to collaborate and bring out the best in those around her.
Plaza has heaped praise on fellow performers who have pushed her in new directions and helped her grow as an actress.
She’s known for keeping a fun, laid back energy on set. Plaza’s a team player who wants everyone to do their best work. That spirit of collaboration and support makes her an exciting performer to work with.
Her Contributions to Important Cultural Conversations
In addition to being funny and entertaining, Plaza’s work also connects to and helps advance important cultural conversations. Through projects like Ingrid Goes West, she’s explored the dark side of social media.
With Emily the Criminal, she keyed into debates about inequality, debt, and criminality. Plaza leverages her platform and projects to amplify impactful ideas. She’s also outspoken about issues like reproductive rights that young fans connect with. While making people laugh, Plaza doesn’t shy away from meaningful, culturally relevant work.
So in summary, Aubrey Plaza has won over fans with her hilarious deadpan comedy, brooding anti-social persona, surprisingly vulnerable acting range, commitment to quirky projects, willingness to take risks, dry wit, unique balancing of mainstream and indie worlds, and desire to connect through meaningfully entertaining work.
She keeps audiences laughing while also making them think. Fans will continue eagerly following wherever Plaza’s singular talents take her next.
Why do people find Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan style of comedy so appealing?
Plaza’s deadpan comedy style resonates with audiences for a few key reasons:
- It creates an amusing contrast between bubbly, upbeat characters or scenarios and her own totally straight-faced, monotone reactions. This juxtaposition highlights the absurdity of the situation in a really funny way.
- Her ability to say hilariously biting or sarcastic lines without cracking a smile adds to the humor and surprise factor. You don’t expect such great zingers to be delivered so earnestly.
- It makes her characters seem more authentic and human. In emotional moments, the subtle expressions breaking through her deadpan exterior feel genuinely moving.
- Fans connect with the idea of using deadpan humor and a detached persona as a protective shell to mask underlying issues like insecurity, cynicism or disappointment. It’s a relatable coping mechanism.
- Plaza straddles the line perfectly between funny and believable. Her performances never feel like just a silly Saturday Night Live skit. The deadpan approach grounds even the most ridiculous scenarios.
- It’s a smart, refined form of humor that doesn’t rely on over-the-top goofiness. Plaza trusts the audience to pay attention to subtlety.
- Plaza times her deadpan lines perfectly. Her comedic instincts always maximize the surprise factor.
- She can pivot seamlessly between deadpan humor and emotional vulnerability within a single scene. This makes her incredibly fun to watch.
What memorable anti-social or misanthropic characters has Aubrey Plaza portrayed?
Some of Plaza’s most iconic anti-social characters include:
- April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation – The disaffected, sarcastic intern who acts like she hates everything and everyone. But her relationship with Andy reveals her softer side.
- Julie in Safety Not Guaranteed – A gloomy intern who forms a connection with an eccentric man who placed a classified ad seeking a time travel companion.
- Ingrid in Ingrid Goes West – A social media stalker who becomes unhealthily obsessed with an Instagram influencer’s glam lifestyle. A dark look at social isolation.
- Harper in An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn – A gloomy woman stuck in an unhappy marriage who ends up on the run with a crook.
- Tess in Dirty Grandpa – A strait-laced lawyer who acts as a counterbalance to Robert De Niro’s wildly unfiltered titular grandpa.
- Debbie in The Little Hours – A rebellious, vulgar nun in this medieval comedy who continually rails against her situation.
- Emily in Emily the Criminal – While not overtly misanthropic, Emily is an outsider who turns to crime to get out of debt.
In different ways, all these characters use isolation or rejection of society to deal with disappointment, insecurity, and larger existential problems Plaza imbues with humor and empathy.
How has Aubrey Plaza shown her talent at more dramatic acting?
While known for comedy, Plaza has impressed with more serious acting chops in films like:
- Emily the Criminal – Her turn as a complex woman caught up in criminal credit card schemes earned rave reviews. Critics called it a career-best performance from Plaza.
- Ingrid Goes West – As an unhinged Instagram stalker, Plaza navigated tricky tonal shifts between satirical comedy and disturbing drama.
- An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn – This moody indie gave Plaza a chance to play a dissatisfied woman seeking escape. She nailed the nuanced dramatic notes.
- A Driftless Area – Plaza showed off a brooding intensity opposite Anton Yelchin in this complex literary adaptation.
- Safety Not Guaranteed – While mainly a quirky comedy, Plaza’s character had a loneliness and vulnerability that Plaza captured well.
- Black Bear – This surreal drama featured a raw, intense performance from Plaza as a creatively stifled actress.
- The Legend of Barney Thomson – Plaza took on a Scottish accent to play Emma Thompson’s detective partner in this crime drama.
- About Alex – Plaza deftly handled this ensemble dramedy focused on college friends reconnecting after a suicide attempt.
Plaza chooses projects wisely to highlight her range. And even in broader comedies, she finds pockets of real emotion that make the humor more impactful. Her subtle but powerful dramatic acting ability only continues to impress.
What makes Aubrey Plaza so relatable and vulnerable in many of her roles?
There are a few key factors that contribute to Plaza’s relatable, vulnerable onscreen presence:
- She often portrays characters who feel like outsiders or don’t fit into society’s molds. This resonates with viewers’ own feelings of alienation.
- Plaza lets small cracks show in her seeming indifference or hostility, hinting at insecurity and sensitivity. This creates empathy and nuance.
- She’s willing to put her ego aside and show unflattering but very human sides of her characters. Her reactions can be petty, awkward, selfish – making the flaws relatable.
- Plaza presents a hard exterior masking inner struggles with purpose, self-worth, and human connection. These feel like universal issues.
- She’s skilled at depicting social discomfort and anxiety in grounded, authentic ways. It taps into many people’s own discomfort in various social settings.
- Plaza crafts subtle facial expressions that hint at her characters’ inner turmoil and conflicts. It’s beautifully understated work.
- She chooses projects featuring complex characters going through major life transitions. Their journeys resonate emotionally.
- Even when playing hardened characters, Plaza finds moments to show their humanity through a look, sigh, or shift in demeanor.
By leaning into the messier parts of the human experience, Plaza makes even her most prickly characters feel real, relatable, and vulnerable.
What makes Aubrey Plaza’s talk show appearances and public persona so entertaining?
A few things that make Plaza’s talk show appearances and public persona so fun to watch:
- Her willingness to take on bizarre concepts, like her “Weird Al of Bushwick” character on Late Night with Seth Meyers. She fully commits to weird bits.
- Her super dry, deadpan reactions to talk show segments make otherwise normal interviews feel fresh and funny.
- Plaza delights in making her hosts feel slightly uncomfortable through intense stares or intentionally awkward responses. It’s playfully antagonistic.
- She goes off script and improvises which always keeps audiences guessing as to what she’ll do next.
- Plaza taps into her own goth-like image and persona by dressing up in creepy costumes or incorporating dark themes.
- She displays random hidden talents like singing or obscure impressions that surprise audiences.
- Her sense of humor is so peculiar that it’s just fun watching her say or do pretty much anything.
- She has an endearing willingness to go along with whatever silly late night talk show games are thrown at her.
- Plaza straddles the line perfectly between deadpan humor and genuine enthusiasm when promoting projects she’s passionate about.
Aubrey Plaza’s talk show style is funny, weird, unpredictable, and completely authentic to who she is as a performer. It’s always entertaining.
What are some examples of interesting or unconventional projects Aubrey Plaza has chosen over her career?
Some examples of Plaza’s unique project choices include:
- Safety Not Guaranteed – This quirky indie comedy-drama about a man seeking a time travel partner.
- The To Do List – A female-centric teen sex comedy with a twist.
- Life After Beth – An absurdist zombie rom-com.
- An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn – An incredibly weird, atmospheric indie film.
- The Little Hours – A medieval convent comedy co-starring John C. Reilly and Fred Armisen.
- Ingrid Goes West and Emily the Criminal – Dark satires tackling complex themes.
- The White Lotus (TV) – A critically acclaimed social satire anthology series on HBO.
- Catherine (TV) – An upcoming surreal comedy series based on the video game.
- Black Bear – A drama/thriller with trippy storytelling structure.
- Spin Me Round – An upcoming comedy set in the bizarre world of Tuscan corporate retreats.
- Olga Dies Dreaming (upcoming book adaptation) – An ambitious drama spanning politics and family dynamics in Puerto Rico.
Clearly Plaza is drawn to unique high-concept comedies, genre-benders, and projects with weird or whimsical premises. She consistently uses her platform to elevate unconventional stories mainstream audiences may have otherwise overlooked.
How does Aubrey Plaza straddle both mainstream and indie sensibilities successfully?
Plaza expertly balances mainstream appeal and indie/art house cred in a few key ways:
- She leverages her fame from hit sitcoms like Parks and Rec to help finance and draw attention to smaller indie films lacking star power.
- Plaza mixes studio comedies with grittier indie films so she is able to reach a wide audience without losing her edge.
- She works with both huge directors like Jeff Baena and up-and-coming filmmakers on early films, using her name to open doors.
- Plaza makes thoughtful project choices that appeal to both casual comedy fans and cinephiles drawn to critically acclaimed work.
- Her willingness to take creative risks within bigger films allows her to insert offbeat indie sensibilities into more commercial work.
- She collaborates often with indie comedy darlings like Fred Armisen and Alison Brie who share her sensibility.
- Plaza stays devoted to her idiosyncratic brand and persona rather than chasing mainstream stardom.
- She leverages her huge Parks and Rec fanbase to get them interested in her stranger, more obscure projects.