LOS ANGELES — When Aubrey Plaza first read the script for “The To Do List,” she was thrilled at the prospect of playing a lead role tailored for her in a frank, funny and perhaps even groundbreaking movie.
“I thought it was so funny and one of the funniest scripts I've ever read. And I wasn't thinking about what I would actually have to do in it until I had to do it. I didn't wrap my head around it until usually the day of,” Plaza admitted during a recent press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, as she described some of the action that won't be repeated here.
“We didn't have much time, so a lot of the stuff I wasn't mentally prepared for. I just kind of did it.”
In that respect, Plaza, 29, has something in common with her character in “The To Do List,” a rare teen sex comedy written from the female perspective.
She plays strait-laced, straight-A student Brandy Klark, who is determined to lose her virginity after she spies hunky college guy Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) at a graduation party.
Applying her impeccable study skills to her deflowering, Brandy creates a to-do list of sexual milestones and sets out to check them off with any available guy.
Best known for playing sardonic former intern April Ludgate on the NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” Plaza got to know “The To Do List” writer-director Maggie Carey through the New York improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade.
In 2004, Carey cast Plaza in her Web series “The Jeannie Tate Show” as the delinquent teenage stepdaughter of the title character, who hosts a talk show in her minivan.
The part led to Plaza's first film role, in Judd Apatow's “Funny People.”
Carey then wrote “The To Do List,” based on her own coming of age in Boise, Idaho. She wrote it with Plaza as the leading lady.
The scribe set the bawdy story in 1993, her senior year in high school.
“I gave Aubrey my diary so she could sort of get into the perspective of what it's like to be a teenager in the old-fashioned days of 1993,” said Carey, the wife of Tulsa native and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Bill Hader.
“I do think the idea of all of these things that you have to check off on a list is still relevant, it's just the kids can now just Google it and find out right away whether or not they want to try one.”
Carey made her directorial debut with “The To Do List,” and the slight $1.2 million budget gave her creative control but a short 24-day shooting schedule.
Although the schedule was a constant challenge, she said it kept her from overthinking some of the movie's raunchy bits — and kept Plaza from worrying too much about how to play an homage to “Caddyshack's” famous floater in the pool scene.
“To be honest, I didn't realize I was writing such a raunchy movie,” she said.
“I was just writing from that teenage point of view when you so badly want to know about something and the only way to know is to actually go through it. ... I didn't realize it was as frank as it is until I had the cast start to perform things. So I didn't really know what I was getting into. So thank you Aubrey for still doing everything,” Carey said.
For Plaza, “The To Do List” is her second leading role in a film, following last year's acclaimed indie romantic comedy “Safety Not Guaranteed.”
The Delaware native will co-star with Maggie Grace in the drama “About Alex,” play the title character in the dark zombie family comedy “Life After Beth” and portray the creator of a one-woman comedy show in the rom-com “A Many Splintered Thing.”
She also continues to play April, a former slacker who is growing up, on “Parks and Recreation,” which launches its sixth season Sept. 26.
“I know my character on ‘Parks and Recreation' so well that it's just really fun to ... just kind of go with whatever story they throw at you. And I like doing movies like this because it allows me to do completely different kinds of things and that's the most fun, exciting part about my job, I think, is just to be able to keep doing things that surprise people and challenging myself,” said Plaza, looking elegant in a Marni crimson and cream top and black shirt.
“So I'm just really lucky that I found this script.”
Travel and accommodations provided by CBS Films.