Aubrey Plaza interview: ‘Emily the Criminal’

“The whole movie is about someone trying to get their power back and that was what was so enticing about playing this character,” reveals Aubrey Plaza, who stars in and co-produces the hit indie crime thriller “Emily the Criminal” for Roadside Attractions.

For our recent webchat she adds, “Honestly, playing the character actually taught me a lot about myself and about how I need to implement more of that vibe in my own life,” she says. “Emily starts the movie and she’s already had enough. She’s already at 11 in that first interview scene. Most movies, you find characters starting way at the bottom and then you see them lose everything and then they get to the point in the middle of the movie where they’ve had enough. This movie, she’s already had enough. She’s already been through a lot of shit,” Plaza explains, admitting that “it’s really fun to watch someone say all the things that you want to say in those moments.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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In “Emily the Criminal,” college dropout Emily (Plaza) is saddled with student debt that she is struggling to pay off because a prior felony conviction prevents her from obtaining a well-paying job. She becomes involved in a credit card scam as a dummy shopper buying expensive items with stolen credit cards, which promises to make her $200 in one hour. She bonds with the fraud ring’s organizer Youcef (Theo Rossi), as they attempt to forge a path forward together to get them both out of the rut that they find themselves in. The crime thriller, now streaming on Netflix, was written and directed by John Patton Ford in his feature film debut. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, scoring four Indie Spirit Award nominations for Ford (Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay), Rossi (Best Supporting Performance) and Plaza (Best Lead Performance), which follows her Lead Performance nomination at the Gotham Awards.

About halfway through the film, Youcef asks Emily where she’s at in her life and she responds, “I just want to be free.” Plaza agrees that the scene gives the audience some insight into why she ends up going down an increasingly dangerous path. “I wanted to really be specific about what is driving her,” she explains. “I didn’t want the movie to be so focused on debt and student loans. Obviously, that is a problem for her, a big problem for her. But ultimately, there’s got to be something really deep that’s driving her to make these insane choices and decisions. That’s key, so that line felt right to me in the moment.”

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UPLOADED Dec 13, 2022 8:30 am