WWD – The actresses, who star as a loner and a fashion blogger in the dark comedy, discuss their relationship with social media and each other.
As the stars of the dark and quirky Sundance hit “Ingrid Goes West,” Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen — who frequently inhabit opposite ends of the character spectrum — play out a comedic, cutting-edge take on the modern social phenomenon of Insta-envy and Insta-aspiration. Adrift in her life, loner Ingrid (Plaza) takes her obsession with the picture-perfect images from the feed of social media-savvy Taylor (Olsen) to a disturbing, sometimes funny, extreme.
Indeed, the pair may inspire career-coveting among their peers: along with appearing together in the critically praised indie comedy, each has an equally lauded film hitting theaters — Olsen as an out-of-her-depth FBI investigator in the bleak drama “Wind River,” and Plaza as a foul-mouthed 14th-century nun in the farce “The Little Hours.” And of course, they both have superhero blockbusters on their résumés: Olsen plays “The Avengers’” Scarlet Witch and Plaza is one face of the malevolent Shadow King on the X-Men spin-off “Legion.”
During their chat with WWD, the pair were thick as thieves while musing about their friendship, their mutual envies and the women they admire.
WWD: How soon after signing on to this did you guys start following each other on Instagram?
Elizabeth Olsen: I didn’t have an Instagram, and you didn’t either. Well, apparently, you did.
Aubrey Plaza: I did. I had a private one. No, I didn’t have a public one.
E.O.: She never invited me or told me about it!
A.P.: Come on. Don’t do this. I never post on it.
E.O.: You post a lot of stories on it.
WWD: So you weren’t especially into the whole social media culture?
E.O.: No, I think that’s why I was really interested in initially doing this film. It’s something that I’m genuinely fascinated by, and it’s something that I didn’t quite understand — and I probably had an extreme judgment toward, and probably felt “better than,” or something. I was interested in figuring out what’s the deal, from a nonjudgmental point of view. What is this land of Instagram, social media? Having a lot of likes and a lot of followers, and getting paid for it? I kind of found it to be really twisted, but then I started to see how it worked, and see how powerful it was, and how impressionable we all are.
A.P.: I’m still figuring it out. I don’t ever feel like I’m good at it. I got off Twitter, because I started feeling like it was not adding anything positive into my life. If anything, it was more negative. But now I’m back on it because it can be fun. I think, as an actor and a public figure, it’s a different experience when you put yourself out there in that way. I think it can be a great tool, and that part I’m comfortable with. But the part that’s kind of more personal, that part I’m still struggling with, because I don’t really want people to know everything about me. So I struggle with the story that I tell, and how I come across. It’s a constant battle of insecurities.
WWD: As you two got to know each other while you were making the film, what did you become obsessed with about one another?
E.O.: I think I became obsessed with getting a reaction from Aubrey, of making her uncomfortable and, like, reversing the characters. And I would just send her photos and weird text messages.
A.P.: Just really gross photos. Really beautiful ones, that are so beautiful that they’re [gross], that’s what I mean.
E.O.: My face was the cover of Aubrey’s phone while we were filming this movie.
A.P.: It lasted for a while too after we wrapped. I’m obsessed with everything — I am! Look at her. She’s gorgeous, she’s talented, she’s going places.
WWD: Was there anybody when you were growing up that you looked at to model yourself after, in the way that Aubrey’s character does in the movie?
E.O.: I was obsessed with Michelle Pfeiffer as a kid, but I don’t think I was trying to model my childhood around her adulthood. I think the closest thing would probably be my sisters [Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen], because I thought that they were really cool. They had cool style and they had cool friends and they were funny.
A.P.: I had an older cousin — she was the one who took me to community theater for the first time when I was 11. It was really what opened my eyes up to acting. And Janene Garofalo, maybe, in high school.
WWD: What did you admire about each other’s work?
A.P.: She’s so thoughtful, and just understands, somehow, how to make a character a real person. Every character I’ve seen her play feels like a real human being, and different than the last one.
E.O.: I think that Aubrey’s comedic timing and her presence as a person are completely unique to her. I’m assuming casting directors throw around, “We need someone like Aubrey Plaza,” because I think you’ve created an entire type. Also, she doesn’t take a break. She really needs a vacation.
A.P.: What are you, my mother? Stop it.
E.O.: I think you should give yourself a vacation. Go to a spa. I think you should have a massage.
A.P.: Spa needs to come to me!
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