If Aubrey Plaza had a credit card with an unlimited spending amount, she would buy “the entire Criterion Collection on Blu-ray,” “a region two DVD player” and “Stromboli, that volcanic island off the coast of Sicily.” Her co-star Theo Rossi would add more donkeys and goats to his ranch.
The duo star in director John Patton Ford’s crime film “Emily the Criminal” (in theaters Friday), which follows Plaza’s character Emily, an artist riddled with crushing student debt that she's unable to pay because of her criminal record. To consolidate the burden, Emily takes up credit card fraud schemes, becoming a “dummy shopper” who buys merchandise with stolen credit cards. Youcef (Rossi), the ringleader of the operation, in turn sells the illegally purchased items.
Plaza says the hardship of finding ways to pay off student debt is "something that an entire generation of young people can relate to coming out of this system that is so broken."
"The unpaid internship thing is just preposterous when you think about it. I mean, people have to eat," Rossi says.
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“Emily” is filled to the brim with tense action sequences, including scenes where Plaza, 38, tasers people. Plaza, who didn't work with a real taser on the set, said she used a toy taser she found in a cereal box.
“Second time I've tasered someone on film. That's kind of becoming my thing,” Plaza says.
The film features a car chase scene where Emily narrowly escapes a car dealer who attacks her afterdiscovering she had fraudulently purchased a vehicle. Plaza says she did a lot of her own driving in the movie and acknowledges she drove “more dangerously than the stunt driver.”
“The stunt coordinator told me to take it easy, to tone it down multiple times,” Plaza says. “But you only got a couple chances. You've got to make it real.”
Emily and Youcef develop an onscreen romantic relationship while taking “chances on each other,” Rossi, 47, says.
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"We as actors, artists, people, humans take chances on each other," Rossi says. "I think that that really resonates throughout the film." Rossi says.
Similarly, the co-stars developed a strong behind-the-scenes bond.
“Theo comforts me because he tells me about things like time is not real and things about reality that I've never heard of,” Plaza says.
Plaza is having a busy August beyond "Emily." The “Parks and Recreation” star will make an appearance in “Spin Me Round,” a romantic comedy thriller co-written and directed by her husband, Jeff Baena, to be released Aug. 19 (in theaters, on demand and AMC+).
Plaza will also voice Laura Feinberg in FX's animated horror-comedy show “Little Demon,” premiering Aug. 25. Feinberg becomes the mother of the anti-Christ when she’s impregnated by Satan (voiced by Danny DeVito), giving birth to daughter Chrissy (voiced by Lucy DeVito).
Plaza says playing the mother of the anti-Christ is something “that she’s been meaning to do.”
“Having the anti-Christ as my daughter is just one of the most fulfilling things that's ever happened to me,” Plaza says.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aubrey Plaza drove 'dangerously' in 'Emily the Criminal' to make point