Aubrey Plaza Was Asked By Director To Actually Masturbate On Camera For Coming-Of-Age Film

By maks in Showbiz On 11th June 2024

When it comes to films about teenagers and romance, there's definitely no lack of those awkward bedroom scenes.

These scenes often make us squirm, but we usually comfort ourselves with the thought that it’s all staged.

The expressions, movements, and sounds are all just performed for the benefit of the camera. But sometimes, that's not the case.

Aubrey Plaza revealed in an interview that she was asked to actually masturbate on camera for a movie in which she played an inexperienced high school student.

Aubrey Plaza starred in The To Do List in 2013. CBS Films

In a conversation with Conan O'Brien, Aubrey Plaza shared a personal anecdote from her time filming her 2013 movie, "The To Do List." 

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In this film, her character, Brandy, decides to increase her sexual experiences before she goes off to college, and this includes exploring herself a bit more.

Yet, Plaza hadn't realized just how deeply she would get to know Brandy until she actually got to the set.

She explained to O'Brien that she had planned to just pretend the act.

But when she sought guidance from director Maggie Carey, Plaza recounted that Carey's response was straightforward: "Masturbate, like it says in the script." 

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Plaza joked: "When I showed up, the camera was mounted on the ceiling, I was in my underwear and a Clinton T-shirt and there were a bunch of old men smoking. You know, the crew guys!"

The actress further clarified that the crew wasn't actually smoking but that was the impression that she had remembered.

"And then I went and touched myself," she continued.

"I thought I was doing one thing and then, when I showed up, it was a whole different thing; it was a full-body shot." 

Plaza didn't expect the shot to show her full body. CBS Films

Carey has also previously commented on Plaza's role in the film, praising the actress for her courage.

She told Screen Slam: "She was game for everything, you know, which was so fun. And she had no problem putting herself in these very awkward situations. 

"But, you know, it's played for comedy and she just nailed it. It was just so fun to work with her, yeah, she's very gutsy."

While Plaza and Carey appear to be quite content with how "The To Do List" turned out, some people online have noted that the situation might be perceived differently if it occurred in today's context.

"They all laugh it away, but this isn't ok. You can't order someone to pleasure herself for a tv show," one critic commented. 

Plaza also spoke to Oregon Live about the infamous scene, admitting that she was anxious about it.

"Looking back on it, I feel like the masturbating scene was a little bit the most nerve-racking," she said.

"Just because in my head I thought, 'Oh, we'll probably shoot this in a way where I don't really have to really do it'.

"But then when we did it and I was like, 'Oh no, we're going to shoot it where I do it'."

At least it's a good story to tell the grandkids, right?