Aubrey Plaza on Stalking Elizabeth Olsen for 'Ingrid Goes West'

Aubrey Plaza on Stalking Elizabeth Olsen for 'Ingrid Goes West'

The actor stalked her costar in real life to prepare for the role.

The actor stalked her costar in real life to prepare for the role.

Photography: Sharif Hamza

Styling: Ellie Grace Cumming

Text: Brienne Walsh

No matter how old you are, chances are you’ve found yourself stalking someone on social media. In Ingrid Goes West, a film directed by Matt Spicer, the title character, played by Aubrey Plaza, takes stalking to the next level, moving across the country and changing her entire identity to befriend Taylor Sloane, an Instagram celebrity played by Elizabeth Olsen. “For me, the movie is about that urge that people get to obsess over people they don’t know on Instagram, and what happens when that gets blown out,” Plaza says.

To prepare for the role, Plaza stalked Olsen in the flesh, which she found easy to do. “She’s a ridiculous human being. She’s beautiful and funny and effortlessly cool. She’s the whole package. It was very easy to get lost in that.” She also drew on her own experiences with social media sites such as Twitter, which she left in the wake of the election, and Facebook, which she hasn’t used in 10 years. “It felt like everything I was looking at made me feel bad about myself. That can happen if you’re not conscious when you’re using [social media] because it’s human nature to want to look at other people’s lives and feel like they have something you don’t.”

A mature person deletes their Facebook account when they can’t stop obsessing about other people’s profiles. A crazy person sells all of her possessions, changes her hair color, and literally tries to become the person whose account they check every 30 seconds, as Ingrid does in the film. But Plaza is careful not to label the character as “crazy.” “I really tried to figure out what the human story is with her and not try to label her in any way in terms of mental illness.”

The film doesn’t pass judgment on Instagram stalkers, or social media in general. “There’s no hidden agenda,” Plaza says. “It explores how humans can use Instagram as a device to further their unhealthy behavior, or not.” She adds, “I’ve never gone too far down the rabbit hole.” The real question is: if she did allow herself to, who would she be looking at?”

Ingrid West will be released on August 11, 2017.

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