Aubrey Plaza on Scary Movies, Surviving a Stroke, and Besting Joe Biden

Aubrey Plaza
Peter Yang/August Image

Aubrey Plaza, the star of Child’s Play talks scary movies, surviving a stroke, loving Delaware, and besting Joe Biden. But first, the basics.

Age: 35

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware

Top 3 Scary Movies

  1. Rosemary’s Baby
  2. The Shining
  3. Misery

I loved you on Parks and Recreation but have to admit I’m probably too scared to see you in Child’s Play—the eighth installment of the franchise about the murderous doll.

Don’t be scared. It’s just an innocent little doll.

Chucky is so creepy. Did dolls ever freak you out as a kid?

I’m not afraid of dolls, but masks scare me more than anything. The combination of murderers wearing silly masks while they’re doing awful things especially freaks me out.

Are you a fan of scary movies?

I love Halloween and the more campy horror, but I don’t love really, really scary movies or torture horror.

What about the true crime stuff that’s so popular now?

Those series are like candy; they’re just so entertaining. But I don’t seek them out. I don’t have a thing inside me where I’m fascinated by serial killers and murderers. I’d rather watch a comedy.

Yeah, real life can be scary enough. Speaking of which, I was surprised to learn that you survived having a stroke?

Yeah, it happened when I was 20 out of nowhere, a fluke. I was having lunch with a friend, and it just happened mid-sentence. It’s kind of like getting hit by a car. It’s scary to know that you could just be walking down the street, and then all of a sudden, you’re having a stroke. It’s given me a pretty different perspective on life after that.

How so?

I consider myself a more open person. I try to keep that feeling of appreciating life. I think having that happen at a young age, things kind of seemed more fragile after that, because I realized things can change in a second. But I mean, it’s not like every day I’m achieving my goal of living life to the fullest. I’m not an enlightened person or anything. I was already someone who was always interested in breaking out of the normal, expected mode of existing.

TO ME, VALENTINE’S DAY IS A SCAM. I DON’T CARE ABOUT SOME FANCY DINNER. I’M HAPPIEST WHEN MY BOYFRIEND MAKES ME A MIXTAPE.

What did “expected” mean to you—probably not a career in acting?

My parents were definitely supportive, even though I’m sure that they never thought it would actually happen. My mom was a lawyer who went to night school to get her law degree, and my dad worked his way up in the finance world without having even finished college. They made a lot out of nothing and are both really inspiring to me. With acting, I had the feeling of, “I’m just gonna go for it and not care what people think, and humiliate myself if that’s what I have to do.” The stroke only emboldened me more to have that attitude. You kind of can’t care when you’re trying to take a big swing.

You always knew you weren’t an ordinary sort of young person?

I don’t know how to describe myself. I was weird. I was in band and 4H. And a community theater dork.

I think of 4H as being a Midwestern thing, but you’re from Delaware.

Well, Delaware’s interesting in that way. I grew up in Wilmington, which is more urban, so my participation was more community service–based. Still, I’ve been to the state fair, and I’ve shown some sheep. Once you drive south and you get to Dover, it turns into a rural landscape, a lot of chicken farms, and then you get to the beaches. So it’s kind of a cool state because it’s got everything going on in a very small space.

You ride hard for Delaware. Is that why you won a poll as the state’s most famous native?

I did not ask for that! It was an online poll from the Delaware News Journal. I was like, “Oh my God, why? How could I beat Joe Biden? This doesn’t make sense.”

You mentioned being in the band. What instrument did you play?

Saxophone. I still keep it with me in my trailer. But it’s a very annoying instrument to just whip out. It’s really loud, so you kind of have to pick your moments.

Duke Silver would be proud. You’ve been in a relationship for close to a decade. Are you a romantic person?

I would say I’m a romantic, but I’m not into jewelry or those kinds of things. Simple things make me happy, I guess. Like to me, Valentine’s Day is kind of a scam. I don’t really care about having some fancy dinner. I’m happiest when my boyfriend makes me a mixtape or a playlist. Music to me is the best gift.

Do you also not need fancy dinner reservations because you’re a good cook?

I love cooking when I have the time to do it, but I wouldn’t say I’m very good. I aim too high and overdo it every time. I look up recipes from Chez Panisse or whatever, and I’m like, “Yeah, I could do that.” And then I blow it every time. I should probably stick to the basics.

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