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With 'The To Do List,' a sexual first for Aubrey Plaza

By Amy Kaufman

4:25 PM EDT, July 24, 2013

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In the R-rated comedy “The To Do List,” a chaste high school senior embarks on a quest to experience her “first time” before heading off to college.

Lead actress Aubrey Plaza had to face her own daunting first in making the movie, which is out Friday: Performing sexual acts in public.

Most scenes -- like the one in which her character Brandy Klark performs fellatio on a musician played by Andy Samberg -- required Plaza to fake it. But when it came time for Brandy to pleasure herself, writer-director Maggie Carey asked the actress to make the moment as genuine as possible.

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“She’s like, ‘Well, the camera is going to see everything, so you just have to do it.’ And I was like, ‘OK,' so I’m just gonna put my hands in my underwear," Plaza recalled during an interview for a story that will appear in Sunday’s Calendar section. “All the sex stuff was kind of under this umbrella of awkward comedy, so I didn’t ever feel like ‘Oh my God, I’m baring my sexual self.’ But I hope that people know that I’m better at sex than that."

At the film’s premiere in Westwood on Tuesday night, the 29-year-old -- dressed in a flirty mini dress -- seemed to be enjoying her first taste of movie stardom. When the “Parks and Recreation” actress emerged from the Regency Bruin Theatre after the screening, hordes of students from the nearby UCLA campus had gathered in the hopes of scoring a picture with her.

Filmmaker Carey, whose movie also stars Rachel Bilson, hopes that young female demographic turns out for  the movie, which will open in roughly 500 theaters this weekend.

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“The way teenagers socialize has changed quite a bit in terms of technology, but I think there are universal similarities between teens in the '90s and now, so I hope they’ll relate to the movie,” she said on the carpet before the premiere, as her husband, Bill Hader, rushed past reporters and into the theater. (The “Saturday Night Live” alum plays Brandy’s slacker boss in the movie.)

Bilson, meanwhile, said she was envious of teenagers growing up with Google, who are more easily able to educate themselves about sex than she was.

“My mom was very open,” she said with a smile. “She shared. A lot.”

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Amy Kaufman

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

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