Aubrey Plaza Tells Us Why She Hates The Eggplant Emojii

Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

The sardonic superstar and ocean witch can next be seen in ‘Ingrid Goes West’

Aubrey Plaza is the Queen of Deadpan, an actress best known for her sulky, sarcastic turn as April Ludgate on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. In reality, Plaza is plenty expressive—just dry-humored and a little awkward. She took steps to shake the typecasting with a role on FX’s Legion earlier this year, portraying the evil and seductive Lenny, a character much wilder than anyone on Parks and Rec. And now, with her starring turn in Matt Spicer’s black comedy Ingrid Goes West, Plaza has left April permanently in the dust.

With nods to classic stalker flicks Single White Female and The Talented Mr. RipleyIngrid Goes West updates the story to reflect obsession in the digital age. Plaza stars as Ingrid, a young woman who moves to Los Angeles intent on befriending a beautiful Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane. Played by Elizabeth Olsen, Sloane has the seemingly perfect profile: She knows the right hashtags to use, brands to collaborate with, and angles from which to photograph her boho-chic ensembles. Her #DesertVibes aesthetic is emphasized during frequent trips to Joshua Tree and in the muted colors and cacti décor of the home she shares with a hipster artist husband. Ingrid falls for Taylor’s carefully curated lifestyle hook, line, and sinker. 

Plaza goes to dark places with Ingrid, a character who is not only dour and self-destructive but also mentally ill. While her attempts to become Taylor’s bestie grow increasingly dangerous and disturbing, we can’t help but identify with Ingrid’s lonely longing to be cool. Plaza breathes the right amount of spunk and humor into the role (plus a dose of great physical comedy—watch for the scene where Ingrid saunters up to Taylor in a bookstore). This is a heroine who exists outside the artificial constructs of social media, despite her best efforts to join in. We spoke to Plaza about why she went cold turkey on her personal Twitter account, her new role as producer, and what emoji she’ll never use. 

You’ve had a mixed relationship with social media. You quit Twitter for a while but recently came back. What happened there? 
I got off at like 11:55pm on New Year’s. So there was an element of a New Year’s resolution to it. I think I got to a point last year, especially amidst the election and all of the political stuff going on, where it started to feel more negative than positive. Whenever I would go on Twitter, it ended up making me feel bad. So I thought I’d get off. But it turns out, you can’t actually get off. It takes a lot of effort. They make it hard, which is kind of creepy and scary. You can’t get off Twitter for like 12 months or something; you can deactivate your account, but it’s not deleted. They keep it alive for a year. And they constantly send you emails going, "Are you sure? Your friends are saying this. You’re missing out on this." It’s really enticing. You feel like you’re being left out of something that’s happening in the world. So I did get back on, and I also got a public Instagram at the beginning of this year. Truthfully, because I had two movies I produced that were coming out, that I was excited about, and Lizzie [Elisabeth Olsen] and I both had a different feeling about Instagram after we shot this movie. It opened us up a little about it; we realized that yes, there are negative things, it can foster toxic behavior, but it can also be a fun way to connect with people. So, I don’t know… It’s complicated, as Facebook says. 

Why did you pick "evil hag" for your Twitter handle?
When I first signed onto Twitter, it was a long time ago, probably almost 10 years ago. That’s why I got that handle—I was super early. I had a comedy blog—this was way back when people had Blogspot—from the point of view of a sea hag.

Like, in the ocean?
Yeah, like an ocean witch. It’s a kind of character I had in my mind that I thought was really funny, so I would write jokes in her voice. And Twitter was just an extension of that for me. I thought it was boring to have your own name. I also wasn’t famous at the time, so I never thought I’d have any followers. That was a personal account for me to try out jokes on. When I become more of a public figure and I was verified, I didn’t change it. 

Most ordinary people compare themselves to peers on social media, and it can be a detrimental habit. Do famous people use social media in a similar way? Do you compare yourself to other actresses?
All the time. Always. Constantly.

Who is then your Taylor Sloane?
I’m not just saying this—Elizabeth Olsen is genuinely the coolest person ever. Now that she’s on Instagram, she has somehow even found a way to make that cool. I can’t do that. She posts things that are so her and funny, but also she looks amazing. It’s got everything. I follow weird people… like Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks. Susan Sarandon, I love all the stuff that she posts. And Laura Dern. 

You mentioned Janeane Garofalo on Jimmy Fallon the other night. Why was she such a big influence on you? 
She was the first stand-up comedian I ever saw live. I’m pretty sure it was in Pennsylvania. I was obsessed with her and that movie, The Matchmaker, and Reality Bites, she’s… everything. I loved her sense of humor and how she had such a confidence and authenticity that I wasn’t used to seeing. 

Your Ingrid Goes West role is very dark, almost verging on psychotic. What did you find empathetic about Ingrid?
I thought it was really relatable, that feeling of wanting to have a friend, to be liked. Ingrid is a depressed person that’s shut off to herself and the world. Someone like that, who has Instagram and social media and uses it in unhealthy ways, was interesting to me. Most people have self-control; they can stop themselves when they’re going down a cyber-stalking hole. Generally, healthy people can say, "Maybe I’m spending too much time on here. I don’t need to be stalking my ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend." Ingrid is like a personification of our worst impulses. There’s an element of her behavior in all of us. 

I like how Ingrid isn’t even stalking an ex-boyfriend, she just wants to find women to befriend. She has platonic romantic feelings for Taylor, and so badly wants Taylor to love her. 
There’s a mirroring aspect to it, too. Ingrid is so unaware of her own identity that once she finds someone she’s enamored with, she can only think, Maybe that’s how I’ll find myself. Maybe I am her. Which is just not the answer. 

There’s a sexy Catwoman role-playing scene in the film. Would you ever want to play Catwoman for real?
Of course. Lately, I’ve been asked that question a lot. I was watching videos of Michelle Pfeiffer—the best—and trying to copy that. I love the idea. But I’m sure it’ll never happen. 

You never know. I’ve seen people compare you to a cat even prior to Ingrid. Your mannerisms and acting style are slinky and feline. 
I do feel cat-like. Maybe in a former life, I was a cat. The only animal I grew up with was a cat named Noel, and she was an outdoor cat. She was not very nice, she kind of kept to herself, and thought she was better than everyone. 

You produced both this film and The Little Hours. Why did you begin producing? 
The Little Hours was written and directed by my long-term boyfriend [Jeff Baena], and I had also been in his other films. I was very involved in that project from the beginning, so it was an organic title that I took on. Ingrid Goes West was a very deliberate choice for me to be a producer. When I read the script initially, I was so excited by it and aggressively coming at Matt Spicer. I thought, If I’m going to be in a movie where my character is in almost every frame, I want to have some sense of control over the end product. I went to film school at NYU, so filmmaking for me has always been a love, not just acting. It felt like it was time. Actors don’t have a lot of control over their careers and what’s being offered to them, and the more control I can get, the better. I’ll hopefully be able to do more interesting work. 

You posted something on social media recently that said: “2017 is the SUMMER OF GOING TO SEE MOVIES IN THEATERS.” Most of us watch movies at home on phones or laptops a lot of the time. Why do you think it’s important for people to still get out to the theater?
For me, movies are meant to be seen in a theater They’re ideally a group experience. You experience things differently when you’re in a room with other people, there’s a collective consciousness. Even the imagery—when the images are larger than life and bigger than you, the storytelling can be more impactful. I don’t think anything bad about streaming on devices, but there’s an isolation now with movie-watching. You’re supposed to talk about movies, laugh with other people. 

It’s been proven that people laugh more in groups. It’s kind of a domino effect. 
It’s a way to connect with the world. It’s cathartic too, especially in hard times, like now—in our country, at least. It’s a reminder we’re all in this together. We can all connect with these characters. We’re not just in little bubbles. It’s harder to get people to go because it’s so easy to watch stuff at home. And studios aren’t making small movies anymore. It’s sad to me. I always want to try to remind people that it’s a fun thing to do. 

What’s your favorite emoji?
Probably the knife. It always makes me laugh. Someone will text me, "Hey I’m so sorry, I’m going to be five minutes late," and I’ll text back, like, three knives. There’s something really aggressive in a nonaggressive way about texting someone a picture of a knife.

What’s your least favorite emoji? 
I hate it when people use the eggplant. There’s something gross about using an eggplant as a sexual emoji. Ew. It’s like a lumpy purple lump. 

It’s the most penis-like…
It’s just funny to me that that’s the closest phallic thing people can find.

So you’re saying we need a penis emoji.
No, we can’t have a penis emoji. I mean, I guess we can. But then we’re going down a dark path. We have to keep it classy. And what’s that penis gonna look like…? Let’s just not go there. 

Ingrid Goes West opens Friday, August 11, in NY and L.A., with a national expansion to follow.

Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images

Sounds fake, but okay

In a new interview for Australian Vogue, Kendall Jenner makes the claim that being associated with the Kardashian name was a setback in her modeling career. Hmmm, that's funny, because power and influence usually works in their holder's favor.

In the interview, Jenner addresses skeptics who doubted that she would make it as a professional model. "A lot of people assumed that because I came from a 'name' that it was a lot easier for me to get to where I got, but actually it's the completely opposite," she says.

"I've always been the person to prove [critics] wrong, even when I was younger," she says. "I've always been a hard worker: that's in my blood. My parents raised me and my little sister to be that way and the rest of my sisters, too." In the profile, it's revealed that Jenner used to attend castings "simply as 'K' or 'Kendall' to distinguish herself from her famous family."

But keeping her name off her portfolio wasn't going to fool anyone, really. Her face has been on television for years, and it seems unlikely that a casting agent wouldn't know who she was even if Kendall didn't come out and say it. Perhaps Jenner was more closely examined and more readily criticized by people who doubted her, but I'm not sure I believe that she had a harder time gaining a modeling platform or booking big jobs, even if she didn't use her last name.

After all, Jenner was likely able to get into those big casting rooms right away because of her family's connections, and she was able to devote her time to pursuing that career because of the wealth they have. She would've had a much harder time making a name for herself if she didn't come from an influential family. She probably wouldn't get to be so selective about which shows she walks, and she definitely wouldn't be the highest paid model in the world.

Screenshot via Hulu

Introspection is not a bad thing

In Look Back at It, we revisit pop culture gems of the past and see if they're still relevant and worthy of their designated icon status in our now wildly different world.

"It just seems like you agree to have a certain personality or something, for no reason. Just to make things easier for everyone. But when you think about it, I mean, how do you know it's even you?"

Iconic '90s show My So-Called Life is filled with existential questions and observations like this, with many, if not all of them, voiced by high school sophomore Angela Chase (Claire Danes). They're delivered with a familiarly annoyed tone, as if Angela can't believe things are the way they are, and that they're unlikely to change.

Angela lives with her parents and sister in a comfortable home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spends her time navigating the social scene of Liberty High School. She's undergoing a big change, having switched friend groups and fallen in with a cooler crew, namely Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) and Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz). Thanks to them, Angela dyed her hair from blonde to a "Crimson Glow," and is encouraged to indulge in her obsession with Jordan Catalano (a pre-Gucci Jared Leto), the kind of guy who's constantly applying Visine and has a limited chance of actively graduating.

From the first moment of the first episode, Angela's voice is pure, unadulterated teen angst. The melodrama can, when watching as an adult, feel like it's too much. And then there's other times, like when Angela talks about the agony of Sunday evenings, that it feels unnerving to relate so much to a 15-year-old:

"There's something about Sunday night that really makes you want to kill yourself, especially if you've just been totally made a fool of by the only person you'll ever love, and you have a geometry midterm on Monday, which you still haven't studied for because you can't, because Brian Krakow has your textbook, and you're too embarrassed to even deal with it. And your little sister's completely finished with her homework, which is just, like, so simple and mindless a child could do it. And that creepy 60 Minutes watch that sounds like your whole life ticking away."

Angela is nothing if not an over-thinker, preoccupied with very teenage problems like zits and gossip and who to talk to at parties; her thoughts on the most simple of relationships are extreme, like when she thinks about how she felt before she became friends with Rayanne and Rickie: "it seemed like if I didn't, I would die or something."

Sometimes, her melodrama feels suffocating—particularly when related to Jordan Catalano (it's imperative to say both his names). Angela wonders: "Huge events take place on this earth every day. Earthquakes, hurricanes... even glaciers move. So why couldn't he just look at me?"

As an adult, it's easy to think that, of course, Jordan should look at her: She's smart, witty, open-hearted, pretty, has good taste in music. But then, there's no way to make sense of how crushes work. As a sophomore in high school, I also pined after guys who I felt were out of my league, and after the only girls who were out... but who were dating each other. My thoughts probably (definitely) sounded a lot like Angela's, and I was similarly dissatisfied with my life.

At the time, that dissatisfaction felt oppressive—and I wouldn't want to relive it entirely. But that introspection was also what saved me. By questioning what was around me and interrogating how I really felt, I was able to reject the trappings of my conservative town, figure out my own politics, and accept my own queerness. My teenage dissatisfaction with the way things actually are made me grow as a person, and it shaped me into who I am. Thinking about Angela now, and how her angst fueled her, reminds me that I should also let myself indulge in some teen angst—even as an adult.

In one of the show's final episodes, Angela pauses to reflect on the value of her overthinking. She's ringing in the New Year with her friends and decides her resolution could be "to stop getting so caught up in my own thoughts, because I'm like way too introspective… I think." But she decides against that idea, because "what if not thinking turns me into this really shallow person?" Same, Angela. Same.

Courtesy of HBO

Thanks, I hate it

In an interview today with The Cut, Vanderpump Rules star Stassi Schroeder blessed readers with some of her thoughts on HBO's Game of Thrones, and since we can't get enough GoT talk, we were excited to see what Schroeder had to say.

And, in case you're wondering if Schroeder is a fan of GoT, don't: She's actually such a massive fan that she refers to her fans Khaleesis, and they call her Khaleesi right back. So!

Anyway, after the wide range of responses to Daenerys' fiery mayhem in the show's penultimate episode, The Cut wanted to check in to see how Schroeder was faring, and ask what she thought of it all. While Schroeder's opinion on Dany is mixed (she found the Dragon Queen's "crazy" actions to be relatable, but she didn't think it followed Dany's character arc), it wasn't, like, a bad opinion, just a bit muddled, if not so different than those of the majority of viewers.

Schroeder's real hot take, though—what we feel comfortable calling the worst GoT opinion we've heard—is about another character altogether: Arya Stark. Here's what Schroeder had to say about our favorite blacksmith-banging, Night King-killing, proposal-denying assassin in all the Seven Kingdoms: "Arya, I feel like she probably should have just married whats-his-name [Ed. note: Gendry! His name is Gendry!!]. What's wrong with being a lady and a badass at the same time? You don't have to choose just one."

And, like, sure, you don't have to choose just one, but Arya would never choose to be a lady. That's not her! So, if we're still talking about characters behaving inconsistently, Arya saying yes to a proposal (a rushed one at that) would have been absolutely bonkers. Arya's not about to change her entire personality just because some dude drops down on one knee and proposes, and to want her to do so would be like wanting Dany to act like a sheep, instead of a dragon.

All to say, you know nothing, Stassi Schroeder.

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hoto by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Civic Entertainment Group

Our favorite grouchy girl died today

Today is a sad day, because it is the day Grumpy Cat died. Also known as my personal favorite feline celebrity, Grumpy Cat died from complications following a urinary tract infection. The super relatable cat—real name, Tardar Sauce—was only seven years old.

Grumpy Cat was first introduced to the world in 2011, back when LOLcats were everywhere. Grumpy Cat's downturned face (the result of feline dwarfism, according to her owners) was the subject of a huge amount of memes—she was even the 2013 Meme of the Year at the Webby Awards—and was the subject of her own Lifetime movie, in which she was voiced by the Grumpy Cat of actresses, Aubrey Plaza. But, though we loved her for the memes, we loved her even more because we related to her mood.

Grumpy Cat was so relatable because, like us, she was completely over everyone's bullshit. Unlike us, Grumpy Cat didn't hide her feelings with a smile. And while that was because Grumpy Cat literally couldn't do that, we like to think that she also just didn't want to do the emotional labor. Which is why, in honor of Grumpy Cat, have the courage to roll your eyes at someone today, instead of forcing a fake grin. And just think about how Grumpy Cat's probably frowning at us from some sort of kitty afterlife, utterly annoyed that everyone is mourning her death.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes