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updated: 7/25/2013 6:26 PM

Aubrey Plaza looks fear in the face in racy comedy

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  • Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark in "The To Do List," a comedy about a Boise teenager who creates a "to do" list of the things she missed out on in high school.

      Aubrey Plaza stars as Brandy Klark in "The To Do List," a comedy about a Boise teenager who creates a "to do" list of the things she missed out on in high school.
    Associated Press

 
By Nicole Evatt
Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Aubrey Plaza had to overcome a few fears in the R-rated comedy "The To Do List" -- including doing a number of hilariously awkward sex scenes. But the 29-year-old actress says she's anything but brave.

"I'm fearful every day of my life. Every moment of life is full of fear," the "Parks and Recreation" star said in her usual deadpan manner. "But you know when I was shooting this movie I had a lot of support and the cast was so funny ... so I just kind of looked fear in the face."

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Plaza plays Brandy Klark, an overachieving high school graduate, in the coming-of-age comedy set in 1990s Boise, Idaho, who tries to complete a sexual to-do list before heading off to college.

"Looking back on it, I feel like the masturbating scene was a little bit the most nerve-racking. Just because in my head I thought, 'Oh, we'll probably shoot this in a way where I don't really have to really do it.' But then when we did it and I was like, 'Oh no, we're going to shoot it where I do it,'" Plaza said in a recent interview. "Also, when my top fell off and I was running around with all those kids. You know I'm a method actor, so I really was topless, and I think I scarred some of those kids for life. So that was more nerve-racking for them, but they deserved it."

The film, which opens Friday, was written and directed by Maggie Carey, wife of actor Bill Hader ("Saturday Night Live"). They met in improv class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and first worked together on Carey's Web series, "The Jeannie Tate Show."

"I remember Maggie saying, `This girl named Aubrey is really, really funny and she's at U.C.B. in New York and I've watched her perform and she's hilarious,"' Hader said about first meeting Plaza while filming the Web series. "So it's been really cool thinking back on that, of us driving out to New Jersey together and being like, `So you're from Delaware? Oh, cool.' And now she's this big cover story on The New York Times. I'm really excited for her."

Plaza made headlines when she crashed the stage during Will Ferrell's acceptance speech at the MTV Movie Awards in April. Although she had "(hash)The To Do List" written on her chest, it's unclear whether the stunt was planned.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I have no memory of yesterday," Plaza said at the film's premiere Tuesday. "I'm just in the moment at all times."

Co-stars Clark Gregg and Connie Britton, who play Brandy's parents in the film, say Plaza inspired everyone to rise to the -- often mortifying -- occasion.

"I feel like she came into this so enthusiastically and willing to take risks and she set the bar really high," Britton said.

"She's fearless," added Gregg. "She does it in a way that's so humiliating and so embarrassing and so completely brave that you can't help but love her. And as someone acting with her, can't help but go there with her."

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