Interview: Aubrey Plaza on Julie Powers’ Secret Crush and The Sweetness of ‘Scott Pilgrim’

By  · Published on August 13th, 2010

Aubrey Plaza is someone on the rise, but she’s also someone that’s been turning out solid work for a few years now. She’s done plenty of excellent short films and is also pretty well known for her stand-up. With Parks and Recreation and Funny People, she’s starting to get more attention. Being a scene-stealer in the fantastic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will also surely help shed a bit more light.

In the wonderful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Plaza plays Julie Powers. Some will see her as a bitch, but she isn’t. She treats Scott like crap, and deservedly so. At the beginning of the film, Scott couldn’t be more selfish and Julie is one of the few that calls him out. Julie Powers is definitely similar to some of Plaza’s other roles when it comes to playing someone that couldn’t be more annoyed and expressive about it, but it’s different. Plaza acknowledges that she’s currently known for a specific type of character ‐ a character that she couldn’t be more different from in real life ‐ and she’s fine with that. Plaza is great at doing it and she always brings a different twist to it each time around. The sympathetic and outspoken Julie Powers is no different.

Here’s what Aubrey Plaza had to say about Julie Powers, Scott Pilgrim, Parks and Recreation, and her short film work:

Warning: This interview contains spoilers.

What was that first screening like at Comic-Con for you? I was there and I don’t think it could’ve gotten a better reaction.

I know! It was insane. That was the first time I saw the movie and seeing it in that way was so intense. I knew that people were fans of the comic books, but I had no idea how many there were and how intense they were. It was honestly more than a movie. It felt like it was this interactive ride or something. People were screaming and getting out of their seats. And a lot of the cast hadn’t actually seen it either. Michael hadn’t seen it, I hadn’t seen, and a lot of them. So we were all really emotional and we were holding hands. It was really crazy and I had never experienced anything like that.

Do you consider Julie Powers a bitch?

No, I don’t think so. I think that’s just how she comes off, but I don’t. I love her dearly and I think that she has some insecurity that she needs to deal with. It just comes out in a negative way. I think that most people would consider her a bitch.

Wouldn’t you say Julie is one of the few people that realizes Scott is being a bit of a jerk or selfish at the beginning?

I think so. I mean, yeah. He needs to learn a lesson and he does by the end of it, but she’s definitely one of the few that realizes it. She’s not feeding into his little world where everything is perfect. Also, she has her own motivations. She’s kind of secretly, this is maybe a secret, but when we started shooting the movie Bryan Lee O’Malley and Edgar gave all of us a “10 secret facts about your characters” sheets. Some of the facts talked about our character’s motivations and one of mine, I think I can say it now since the movie is coming out, but is that Julie Powers actually has a massive crush on Scott Pilgrim. She liked him in college, but he just liked all of her friends. That really pisses her off.

Could you really imagine Julie Powers and Pilgrim together, though?

(Laughs) No. I don’t think so, maybe. Maybe it would work. Maybe they would balance each other out.

Scott is such a passive guy and Julie is just the complete opposite of that.

Yeah, I know. But sometimes opposites attract.

But I don’t see that fitting too well.

Well, Julie is a little baby inside and maybe he would make her nice. I don’t know (laughs).

That’s a nice way of looking at it. Do you think at the beginning of the film Scott really acts like a bad guy?

Well, I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he is living in an unanalyzed life. He does not own up to his choices and he’s just a slacker guy who thinks he’s the center of the universe. I think he learns at the end he’s gotta respect the people around him and respect himself. I wouldn’t say he’s a bad guy, but he’s definitely not making the right choices (laughs).

Do you think he makes the right choice by picking Ramona at the end?

I think so, yeah. I like the way that it ended. I think it ends and you feel like you don’t know what’s going to happen with that relationship.

It could end terribly.

Totally. I think there’s a definite thing where they walk away and you think maybe it’ll work for a week, and then it’ll end. Either way, I think the important message is that he faces himself at the end and owned up to his relationships. Each of those people grew, in a way. I don’t know exactly what will happen with Pilgrim and Ramona.

I’m hoping he dumps her a week later for Julie.

Yeah. Me, too. That would be the sequel.

I think one of the big things that’s going to make it work outside of the geeky audience is how much heart it has. Were you surprised at all by how sweet the film is?

Honestly, the whole thing surprised me. I had no idea what it was going to be like. I was definitely surprised by how much heart it had and how much I cared for the characters. I knew it was going to be really funny, because it’s Edgar, Michael, and everyone else. So I knew it was going to be funny and I knew the action stuff was going to be awesome. And I was hoping that it was going to also have that level where you’re going to care about the characters and the relationships where it’s touching, in a way. It definitely surprised me. But also, thinking back on Edgar and his other movies, they all have a lot of heart in them and I think that’s what makes them so good. I guess, maybe I should’ve not been surprised (laughs).

It is incredibly sweet.

It is. It totally is. I love it. I think Scott Pilgrim is so endearing.

And when you read the script were you able to take everything in? It is a very visual movie.

No. I had to read it five times. It was so overwhelming and the script was crazy. It’s even written in a way different than most scripts. The font would be like smaller, bigger, and the formatting was even strange. It was definitely a hard read, but you got the idea that it was going to be an overwhelming movie to watch. I mean, there’s so much stuff going on and it’s so dense. There’s so much information and so many jokes packed into it. I had so much fun reading it.

You just talked a bit about the list of ten secrets you got about Julie, can you remember anything else that was on it?

I cant really remember, honestly. I wish I had them, but it was just random. Some of them were big ones like Julie had a crush on Scott during college, but some of them were like Julie is allergic to cauliflower. Some of them were weird.

Would you say a few of them affected your performance at at all?

The only thing that really affected it was just the crush one, because that was good. I realized that Julie was really insecure. You’re not that angry for no reason. It’s coming from somewhere. That really helped me in. Using the crush motivation helped me a lot. But also, I’m not like Julie in real life, but I’ve had some shitty coffee shop jobs and stuff like that going on. I used that as inspiration, too. A lot of times when you see her she’s doing more than one thing. She’s multitasking, running a party, and working here or working there. She’s always trying to keep it together. I tried to use that.

When you see her working in the coffee shop you definitely sympathize. That job would be the best…

Yeah. I mean, she’s obviously struggling. She’s got like five jobs.

Did you see Julie as someone similar to a few of your other characters, in terms of how cold they are? Not even just April in Parks and Recreation, but also like Tina Tate and a few other characters.

Yeah. For sure, when I got that part, I got that part the same week I got April on Parks and Recreation, and then I got Funny People. That all happened at the same time. You know, I don’t know if this movie was shooting a year later I would’ve got it, but there’s definitely a theme there with the characters I’ve played recently. The Tina Tate character was the first one where I really did that. I think what happens sometimes when people see you do one thing and they like it or they think you do it well, that’s all they can see and they cant get past it. And I think that’s a good thing, sometimes. Sometimes, it can be bad. For me, I think that I’ve used it in a way… I don’t think that all my characters are the same, but there’s definitely an underlining feeling of disdain and eye-rolling happening. I don’t think I’ll be doing that forever, but I’m doing it now though.

The funny thing is, your characters aren’t mean at all. They’re usually just really annoyed.

Yeah, I know. They’re so unimpressed.

Do you think we’ll finally see Andy and April get together in the third season?

I don’t know yet, but I hope so. Their relationship is definitely going to be dealt with. My hope is that they get together, but I don’t know. They don’t tell me anything.

Would you say things ended badly for April, in the finale?

I mean, it was not tragic, but it was definitely devastating to her because she basically thought everything was all ready to go but then the one thing she didn’t want to happen happened. Yeah, I definitely think it was a bad way to end the season for her. But now Andy has got to prove himself.

It was pretty sad, though. When April and Andy kissed, it was really sweet, but then it just went so badly.

I know, I know. It’s hard to watch. Poor Andy, he means so well. That’s the sad part about it: he has no malice, he means well.

There’s nothing mean-spirited about him.

No. I think it’ll be good. The tables have turned and now he’s going to have to show her how much he likes her now.

Will we ever see Jeannie and Tina Tate back?

I hope so. You know, for a while HBO was developing it into a show. I don’t think at this point I’d be able to, if that ever became a show on HBO I don’t know if I’d be able to be on it because of Parks and Recreation. My hope is that we’re going to have a Jeannie Tate movie. I’ve heard that it’s being written right now. Hopefully, that’ll be made.

Who’s writing it?

Liz [Cackowski] and Maggie [Carey]. Liz played Jeannie Tate and Maggie was the co-writer and director, and also Bill Hader’s wife.

What would that be about, though?

It would be the story of a soccer mom who has a little dinky Internet show that, for some reason, hit it big time and then she starts to get a real show. It’s kind of a cool story, because that happens all the time. People that do YouTube things and blow-up. So this would be the story of this small town, crazy woman who’s show blows up.

That actually sounds really cool. Those shorts were great.

Thanks. I loved it. I loved it so much. That was a really important thing in my life. That show really has a lot to do with why I’m doing anything now.

Do you want to go back to doing more shorts like My Judge’s Daughter or Kaplowee?

Totally. That is something I always want to do and keep generating material. All the things on my to do list is: come up with a video. Those are things I really miss. I want to keep doing that, but it’s hard when you keep doing all this stuff out here. But I definitely want to keep doing it, because that stuff is really important to me.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is now in theaters.

Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.