Maybe the reason Aubrey Plaza and her most famous character, sarcastic, reluctant employee April Ludgate, are so interchangeable is because one doesn’t exist without the other. As casting directors Allison Jones and Ben Harris revealed during an appearance on the “Parks and Recollection” podcast, creator Mike Schur actually invented a character for Plaza because he was so taken with the young actor (via Cheat Sheet).
Schur dreamed up the show alongside “The Office” creator Greg Daniels, with Amy Poehler cast first, in a total Leslie Knope move. Plaza wasn’t really established at the time, having cut her teeth in New York’s late 2000s stand-up comedy scene. As Jones recalled, “[Comedy writer] Chris Thompsons at the time said, ‘I like that girl, she’s funny.'”
The team was casting for Edgar Wright’s cult hit “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (in which Plaza would go on to play the hilariously snarky Julie) and, as Jones explained, “We sent her first to Mike Schur, I believe, to say, ‘This is somebody interesting, Mike.’ Mike was willing to meet people and write them parts.” Naturally, upon meeting Plaza, he knew she had to be a part of “Parks and Rec”
Funnily enough, she landed several major roles in that one week, “because she was so special.” As a result, “That’s the story of Aubrey Plaza,” and, for better or worse, “She’s no different now than she was that first day.”