‘Parks and Rec’ Creator Says Aubrey Plaza Made Him ‘More Uncomfortable Than I’ve Ever Been’

When it comes to Parks and Recreation, there’s no shortage of memorable characters and cast members. But, one person who always manages to stand out in terms of uniqueness is Aubrey Plaza. Plaza perfectly portrays April Ludgate on the show, a young intern turned employee whose dry, often mean, humor is tempered with occasional bouts of sweetness. Plaza plays April so well that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in her role. Perhaps that’s because the Parks and Rec role was actually written for her.

Parks and Rec star Aubrey Plaza
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 08: Aubrey Plaza attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Pier on February 08, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Plaza’s journey to Parks and Recreation began with casting director Allison Jones. Jones is well-respected in the industry, having also cast huge shows like The Office. After meeting Plaza, Jones immediately contacted the show’s creator Mike Schur and practically demanded he meet with the young actress. She told him that Plaza was the weirdest person that she’d ever met and that she was sending her his way. What happened next is what Schur describes as the most uncomfortable hour of his life.

Aubrey Plaza made the ‘Parks and Rec’ creator very uncomfortable

“Aubrey Plaza showed up in my office and for an hour made me more uncomfortable than I’ve ever been. Like mostly just by not saying anything, by like kind of staring at me with a look that was like simultaneously like ‘you’re old’ and like ‘I don’t like you that much,'” Schur recalled at an event for The Paley Center. Schur then called his Parks and Recreation co-creator, Greg Daniels, in to meet Plaza and she repeated the same behavior on him.

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But, the aforementioned strange behavior is actually what landed Plaza her breakout role on Parks and Recreation. After she left the meeting, Schur immediately dreamed up a role for her and started writing out how he saw her interacting with other characters. “I just wrote a scene where Leslie was trying to like get a young sort of like college-aged intern to do something and the college-aged intern made Leslie feel the way that Aubrey had just made me,” Schur recalled.

How Plaza landed her breakout role

The rest, as they say, is history. Schur contacted NBC to let them know that they’d created a new character for Parks and Recreation and Plaza was going to play her. For formalities sake, they did make her put a scene on tape as “an audition,” but the role was never going to go to any other actor.

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“We ended up having to put her on tape I think just for like for appearances. But, it was the character was designed around the real human being. And she is obviously different than her character in many ways, important ways, but there are also a lot of similarities,” Schur shared about how much Plaza resembles her Parks and Recreation character.

Is Plaza anything like her ‘Parks and Rec’ character April Ludgate?

True to form, after Schur recalled his uncomfortable first meeting with Plaza, she responded “I don’t remember any of that,” in perfect deadpan cadence. While we wish there was video footage of this incredibly awkward encounter, we’re thrilled to have plenty of evidence of April making people wildly uncomfortable on Parks and Rec.