Aubrey Plaza 'Just Knew’ Emily The Criminal Was The Role For Her: 'I Wanted To Be Her’

Aubrey Plaza is one of the most lovable celebrities out there, but she isn't just a famous personality — she's an incredible actress, and she loves her craft. Plaza totally embodies her characters in every role, including her 2022 film "Emily the Criminal," where she dons a Jersey accent and a baseball cap to play the titular protagonist.

The actress doesn't mind playing a character with complex morals; in fact, she actually prefers it. Emily might be a criminal, but she instantly charmed Plaza. Emily runs credit card scams that put a lot of people in danger, but her motivations are grounded in her unfair lot in life and a yearning for freedom.

"I think I am drawn to complicated characters that have a lot going on," Plaza admitted to The A.V. Club. "I only have myself to bring to any role that I'm playing. And I think for better or for worse, I guess I have a certain edge or something, whatever you want to call it. And so I can't help but bring myself to the part."

Just because Plaza grounds her roles in herself doesn't mean she's interested in playing characters just like herself. "I still feel a separation between me and the character," she added. "But think I try to ground every character in truth, try to relate to them and not judge what they're doing. I think a part of me comes out in everything I do, but it's not on purpose."

Plaza likes pretending to be other people. So when she read the screenplay for "Emily the Criminal," she knew she wanted to be Emily. "I didn't really think about how I was going to play it," she told The Los Angeles Times. "I just knew that I wanted to be her."

Plaza Fell In Love With Emily, Warts And All

The only thing that Plaza fears when she signs onto a new project is that the writers will change the character that she fell in love with to be more like her.

"A lot of times, I'll be talking about a project with someone, and they'll go," the 'We'll tailor it just for you! We'll rewrite it just for you!' And that's my nightmare. I'm like, 'I don't want you to do that. You don't know who I am — you think you know, but you don't.' I'm an actor — just let me act."

Luckily, "Emily the Criminal" writer-director John Patton Ford didn't alter his protagonist to suit Plaza. Perhaps this is why the actress agreed to sign on as a producer as well. She didn't care that Emily was morally reprehensible -- that was just another difference she could work to embody.

"I don't judge the characters that I play, ever. It's not helpful to do that," the "Parks and Recreation" actress explained to Entertainment Weekly. "You have to understand why they're doing something, and then you have to empathize with it. And I found her to be incredibly sympathetic because she's just surviving and she's up against a system that is broken."

She Didn't Want Emily To Be Likable

Plaza wasn't totally able to relate with Emily at every point in her story, and she doesn't expect you to either — she's actually counting on it. She told the L.A. Times:

"I liked how unapologetic she is in the film. I think that it's rare to have a female character like that. We're used to seeing male characters that we're watching and we don't question whether they're likable or not. So yeah, I think it's cool to have a female character that doesn't really care if people like her or not. She's doing what she's got to do."

Emily's intensity and her loaded past also enticed Plaza as an actress.

"When I read the script and when I went in to shoot that scene, I had a very clear idea of a woman who has already had enough," Plaza told Awards Daily. "She's up to here. Normally when movies start, you're down here, and you slowly get to the point where you've had enough. This movie starts when she's already had enough."

The "Ingrid Goes West" actress often plays women that seize power on the verge of a nervous breakdown, just like Harper in "The White Lotus." That doesn't mean that Plaza is like these women in real life, it just means she's a talented actress that is attracted to a particular type of role. She may bring small parts of herself to her characters, but screenwriters hoping to work with Plaza should know that the quickest way to this actress' heart is to stick to your guns.

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The post Aubrey Plaza 'Just Knew' Emily The Criminal Was The Role For Her: 'I Wanted To Be Her' appeared first on /Film.

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