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Aubrey Plaza says Mike White tapped into "something unconsciously" about her for The White Lotus

The Parks And Recreation actor is part of the HBO series' new cast

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Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza
Photo: Tim P. Whitby (Getty Images)

After breaking out with Parks And Recreation, Aubrey Plaza has maintained a thriving career in both comedy and indie dramas. With her new role on The White Lotus, the Black Bear actor is making her mark on prestige television. Playing a lawyer dedicated to fighting for workers’ rights, Plaza gets to show audiences used to her dry, edgy persona a whole new side of herself.

Mike White really wrote that part for me, it wasn’t a part that was written and then I went and auditioned for it and said, ‘That’s the part I want,’” Plaza says in a new interview with Backstage. “He wrote it for me, so there’s a lot of me in that part.”

Following The White Lotus’ acclaimed first season in 2021, the HBO series recently returned with a mostly new cast. Plaza’s character Harper is key to exploring the second season’s central theme of fidelity.

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“It’s only been two episodes and everyone’s like, ‘This woman is kind of an uptight bitch,’” Plaza continues. “Which, maybe I am. But you’ll see, as the show goes on, the layers start to come off; the vulnerability starts to show. You realize ‘Oh okay, there’s a reason why she’s like this.’ That part, maybe more than any other part I’ve played, is really personal to me. That’s Mike White. He’s a really good friend of mine, and I’ve known him for years, and I think he really tapped into something unconsciously about me.”

Harper and her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe) are at the titular resort in Sicily after recently coming into a small fortune. There’s a sharp contrast between them and their friends Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy), who come from an old money background.

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“There’s a theme [in my career] of being misunderstood and playing characters that feel like the odd woman out,” Plaza says. “I’m drawn to those characters on a really basic level. I grew up in Delaware. I didn’t grow up in Hollywood. I didn’t have a direct line to the industry. I was like everybody else who grows up and watches movies and has dreams and fantasies about being an actor and being on the television. I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing that.”

The White Lotus is now airing weekly on HBO.