“I’ve been to Chicago more this year than ever,” says actress Aubrey Plaza. “I’ve been there like three or four times, just since January.”
Twice Plaza came through town briefly to promote her earlier film, “The Little Hours,” but she was able to spend a few more days in the city when she was cast for a role in Joe Swanberg’s “Easy” TV series.
“I really got a chance, because of that, to explore some Chicago neighborhoods I had never been to. We shot in Beverly, for example, where I’d never been. I loved it and found it very beautiful. The same goes for the Loyola [University] campus up in Rogers Park. It’s so lovely by the water. I got a chance to simply walk around the campus. That was great.”
Yet, when it comes to Our Town, “my first thoughts about Chicago always start with the Music Box Theatre,” said the former “Parks and Recreation” star. “It’s one of my favorite theaters in the country — maybe even in the world! I love that place. It has such a magical vibe to it.”
In her new film “Ingrid Goes West” (opening Friday), Plaza’s Ingrid character becomes so obsessed with an Instagram star (played by Elizabeth Olsen) that she moves to Los Angeles and finds a way to befriend the woman, using a sudden inheritance to finance her twisted plan.
“Obviously, California is the perfect setting for a seemingly perfect woman, with the perfect figure, gorgeous, perfect boyfriend and seemingly perfect life — that seems right out of a lifestyle magazine — for Ingrid to obsess over,” said Plaza. “But I’m sure there have been similar situations in Chicago or Miami or New York where something like this could occur.”
To prepare to play their parts in “Ingrid,” both Plaza and Olsen did “allow ourselves to indulge in social media quite a bit, more than we ever would do in our real lives,” said Plaza. “We spent a lot of time on Instagram and Facebook and tried to behave — somewhat — like these characters.”
The actress came to relate to the fascination with others — living vicariously through their vacation photos and the like. “I’d look at people’s pictures of their vacation in Ibiza and think, ‘I’m never doing anything as cool as that! Why am I sitting in my room, just looking at the wall!’
“But then you find out — if it’s someone you actually know for real — that that Instagram photo of them smiling is the only one. They had a terrible time on their vacation, but they just happen to be grinning in that single shot!”