July 24th, 2013
04:52 PM ET

'The To-Do List': Raunchy, not a rom-com

"Parks and Recreation" actress Aubrey Plaza isn't afraid to be uncomfortable.

That awkward moment at the MTV Movie Awards this year, when she stage-crashed Will Ferrell's acceptance speech only to fail to take his trophy from him? Things got weird.

But to the 29-year-old star, "it’s better to go out there and do something interesting than to just do what everybody expects," as she told GQ in its August issue. "And that’s the kind of thing that gets picked up.”

Plaza's right. The night she hopped up on stage to confront Ferrell, she just so happened to have the name of her new movie, "The To-Do List," scrawled across her chest.

Now that the comedy is days away from its July 26 release, Plaza is still coming up with ways to subvert expectations, starting with the role itself.

Written and directed by Maggie Carey, "The To-Do List" stars Plaza as a type-A teen named Brandy who decides to give herself a crash course in sex in the summer before college.

As Carey's husband, "Saturday Night Live" vet Bill Hader, told CNN at the movie's Tuesday premiere, "Maggie always said that when a female is the lead, it is usually a romantic comedy. She was like, 'This is not a film about a girl finding love. It’s a movie about a girl trying to get laid in high school."

That sort of raunchy coming-of-age story is typically told from a guy's perspective, and Plaza latched on to the idea of showing another point of view.

“I think it’s just rare to see a movie about a girl going through all of her sexual firsts," Plaza told CNN. "It’s kind of shocking to some people, so yeah, I think it is feminist in some way.”

Plus, she added, it's funny. By now, you might've heard about Plaza's infamous self-pleasuring scene, one of her favorites even though it wasn't the easiest thing to film.

"[Carey] wanted me to do all of those sex scenes, and just go for it," Plaza said. "I've known Maggie for a while, the script is one of the funniest scripts I've ever read, and I was so lucky to be the chosen one. We trusted each other for sure. There was a lot of stuff in the movie that was uncomfortable for me, and we both had a mutual trust and respect."

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