The Internet has been thirsting for Aubrey Plaza since the release of Happiest Season last week, and for good reason. Her quippy wallflower doctor character Riley is exactly the kind of character that appeals to the social media generation. And yet, Aubrey still does not feel she’s worthy of being paparazzi’d every day.
Earlier this week, Aubrey appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote both Happiest Season and her upcoming hyper-meta, disorienting indie drama Black Bear, calling out her own daily LA pap walk photos, and said she’s “literally Brad Pitt’s, like, sloppy seconds.”
She explains, at the :45 mark:
“I’ve been stopped every single day, I brought proof of this… and I would like it to stop, because every day, there’s paparazzi that are taking photos of me and my dogs outside of my house, and it’s not something that I’ve ever had to deal with. And when I say every day, I mean literally almost every day of that spring lockdown, they were out there taking photos of me, and I finally confronted them, and I was like, “Hey man, what are you doing out here? Stop it!” And he said, “Aubrey, we’re waiting for Brad Pitt, you know… [audience laughs] We’re not here for you!” And I was like, “Well then, don’t take pictures of me because I’m not going to dress up for these pictures… I look like s—t!” … They wait for him, and they get me, and they just do it anyway. It’s fine. It could be worse.”
As always with Aubrey’s dry sense of humour, it’s hard to tell if she’s doing a bit, but as an appreciator of the “tiers of fame,” I love when celebrities are candid about how they're not as famous as George Clooney. There’s always a bigger fish. In this case, it's Aubrey laughing about how she refuses to dress up for these seemingly unsolicited photo ops.
But as an admirer of Aubrey’s 300 percent all-in commitment, I’m thrilled. Regardless of whether she’s grown to accept or appreciate regular attention from the paparazzi, her name has been trending on Twitter for about a week. And tomorrow, her REALLY great cabin fever indie Black Bear hits select theatres and VOD in Canada.
Black Bear follows Allison (Aubrey), an actress/filmmaker who rents a rustic Airbnb cottage in upstate New York from a young couple (Christopher Abbott and my fave, Sarah Gadon) in hopes of finding creative inspiration. When the booze starts flowing, an unexpected love triangle and drama ensues. Halfway through the film, it becomes an Adaptation-like meta-movie, where the film's indie crew members are "playing" indie crew members, and they're all re-staging scenes about the artistic weekend getaway gone awry in the same location. Anybody who has seen Aubrey in The To-Do List or Ingrid Goes West knows her fearless devotion to her work. You could even throw Dirty Grandpa in that mix. But Black Bear is a step above and beyond anything we have seen from her so far. Her performance is a combination of vulnerability and murky ambition that you can’t look away from, comparable to what Vanessa Kirby does in the upcoming Pieces of a Woman, which Sarah and I both screened at TIFF this year, and won her the Best Actress prize in Venice. Aubrey’s work in this movie is on that level. Aubrey’s scene partner Chris Abbott invoked A Woman Under the Influence too, and told EW.com that at the end of the movie, Aubrey does some real "Gena Rowlands-type s--t" in this.
Adam Sandler agrees, telling Aubrey that “your performance killed me” in their chat for Interview Magazine.
The two have a history, of course: They both starred in 2009’s Funny People, which was Aubrey’s first major movie. Aubrey also hosted the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards for the second straight year, and the Sandman is the undisputed king of both Netflix schlocky hits like the highly-entertaining Hubie Halloween and as the reigning Spirit Award Best Actor for Uncut Gems, has emerged to be somewhat of an indie star.
Here's what Adam thinks of Aubrey in Black Bear:
“I loved you in it. I couldn’t believe what I saw. This is just a monumental performance. People are going to be so excited seeing this. You dove in there so deep. … What you did in the last 20 minutes of that movie—with the drunk of it all, and the emotions of it all, and the ups and downs — was so on the money. I’ve never seen anyone play drunk and have to go through what you did. I was so happy it was you and not me, because I could not handle what you do.”
Aubrey politely deflects and accepts his praise, talking about the “head trip” of the movie-within-a-movie, and the mental and physical exhaustion she had from taking on this part in the film, which she also produced. But the critics agree– Black Bear is currently rating at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes – and this role, in addition to the popularity of Happiest Season, is lifting Aubrey above her millennial Parker Posey persona. She’s finally getting her shine, as an Internet girlfriend, tenacious performer, and more.
Attached - Aubrey walking her dogs in LA the other day.