Aubrey Plaza On ‘Weirding Out’ Robert De Niro On The Set Of Dirty Grandpa And Him Not Recognizing Her Off Camera

Aubrey Plaza is known for her monotone, awkward style of comedy – particularly playing April on Parks and Recreation. You hardly see her crack a smile in her roles unless it’s featured in Parks and Rec bloopers. It's a style that's perhaps not for everybody, though, as her form of comedy apparently “weirded out” her Dirty Grandpa co-star Robert De Niro to the point where he didn’t even recognize her off-camera.

When you get to work with a high-profile actor, it doesn’t mean the two of you always have moments to shoot the breeze about the weather and how their day was. That’s how it was between Aubrey Plaza and Robert De Niro during their time making Dirty Grandpa, but the Parks and Recreation star told Variety how that made things it all the more interesting. Said Plaza,

I didn’t really have a relationship with him off camera because he’s him. I didn’t have time to get to know him, he shows up in a puff of smoke and there’s no chatting at the water cooler. By the time he’d show up, I’m in character. My character had one goal: To have sex with him. I was acting totally insane as the character because we were about to shoot. I don’t think he understood that wasn’t me. You’d think he would because he’s an actor and an amazing one.

It seems Robert De Niro was very taken with Aubrey Plaza’s acting and found it completely believable. She went all out during her Dirty Grandpa audition as the provocative Lenore by flashing the casting directors and talking dirty to them the way her character would. Plaza really did go above and beyond for her craft. 

However, the Raging Bull star perhaps wasn’t the biggest fan of Plaza’s on-the-spot acting as he was pissed during their sex scene when she wanted to suck his nipples. Apparently, she was told by director Dan Mazer that De Niro wants his nipples to be off-limits.

The Safety Not Guaranteed actress was told by one of her agents that Robert De Niro was “a little freaked out” by her. But a turn of events occurred when the Taxi Driver actor hosted a lunch for the cast and crew of Dirty Grandpa and it was hard for him to make out who Plaza was when she was out of character:

I showed up and he’s like, ‘Who are you sweetheart?’ and after that he was normal. At first I think I came on really strong. I did some questionable things I wouldn’t do anymore.

I would consider this a heavy compliment. Some actors really play the part so well that you forget it's all pretend. With Aubrey Plaza’s background in improv comedy, it’s natural for her to be funny and make things up on the spot. That’s why she told Variety that talk shows make her nervous because she doesn’t like to plan jokes. She explains that appearing uncomfortable during these appearances is more of a defense mechanism and never wants anyone to be uncomfortable with her. 

As much of a dedicated actress as she is, the 38-year-old star would like to try her hand at producing more. Her first producing credit was in the medieval black comedy The Little Hours and then another black comedy Ingrid Goes West. Plaza also starred and co-produced Emily the Criminal which had its Sundance Film Festival release this past January and its 2022 movie release on August 12 With all of the talent she has, there’s no stopping her.

Aubrey Plaza will next been seen as part of the Season 2 cast of HBO’s The White Lotus, and she is attached to star in Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis with Adam Driver.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.