Aubrey Plaza is known for playing intense characters in projects like Parks and Rec and Ingrid Goes West, but in a recent panel promoting her upcoming movie Emily the Criminal, the actor admitted she took her method acting too far while working with Robert De Niro on the set of 2016’s Dirty Grandpa.
While speaking at a London Film Festival ScreenTalk session (via Variety) on Monday (October 10th), Plaza said one of her agents “heard Bob’s a little freaked out” during the filming of Dirty Grandpa, in which she played a character named Lenore whose “one goal” was to have sex with De Niro’s Dick Kelly.
“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,” Plaza explained. “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.”
Because Plaza “didn’t really have a relationship with him off camera,” De Niro was caught off guard when finally meeting her out of character during a cast and crew luncheon. “I showed up and he’s like, ‘Who are you sweetheart?’ and after that he was normal,” she recalled. “At first I think I came on really strong. I did some questionable things I wouldn’t do anymore.”
For more context, it seems like director Dan Mazer may have also had something to do with the misunderstanding. During a 2016 appearance on Kimmel!, Plaza revealed De Niro was “batting her away” when she followed Mazer’s instructions to “suck on his nipples.”
After they cut the camera, Mazer said, “Bob does not like his nipple area paid attention to. So don’t do that.” Plaza remembered thinking, “Great, well now he thinks that I wanted to do that.” She also said her agent had been told by De Niro’s agent that he was “legitimately scared of me.” Watch a clip of the appearance below.
Emily the Criminal will be released in theaters nationwide after making the rounds at film festivals. Next up, Plaza will star in Season 2 of HBO’s The White Lotus; revisit the trailer here. She also has a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, which has yet to begin filming.
As for De Niro, his latest film, David O. Russell’s Amsterdam, is out now. He’s also set to star opposite himself in Barry Levinson’s Wise Guys. De Niro will play both Frank Costello and Vito Genovese in the mob drama.