Aubrey Plaza Thinks Lack Of Guns Made Her Crime Thriller So Successful?

Aubrey Plaza thinks the lack of guns in Emily the Criminal increased the tension of physical confrontations, making audiences wonder how she'll get out of them.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

aubrey plaza
LEGION — “Chapter 6” – Season 1, Episode 6 (Airs Wednesday, March 15, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: Aubrey Plaza as Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker. CR: Michelle Faye/FX

In media, there’s a trope called “Chekov’s Gun”, based off of a statement from Anton Chekov that says “If a gun is shown in act one, it will be fired in act three.” Plenty of Hollywood movies have leaned on this trope and reduced suspense as a result, since the gun was on screen, that means it will be used as a weapon. Aubrey Plaza’s recent movie, Emily the Criminal, purposely tried to subvert this trope by featuring no guns at all, instead, everything else became a weapon.

The Hollywood Reporter relayed Aubrey Plaza’s feelings on the lack of guns from a recent interview on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. The star explains the lack of firearms is on purpose noting, “I think that’s a really cool kind of weird thing about the film because most thrillers introduced guns immediately.” Even if it’s just a quick shot of a character placing a pistol inside of a dresser, or a drawer, the star is correct about the prevalence of guns in thrillers, usually used as a cheap way to heighten the tension of a scene.

Emily the Criminal stars Aubrey Plaza as Emily, a broke woman with a felony conviction preventing her from landing a decent job, so she ends up getting involved with credit card fraud. Soon, she’s going deeper into the fraud underground, dealing with several physical confrontations that she resolves using everyday objects, like a box cutter, but never a gun.

“It’s an unconscious thing, I think, for the audience to watch that movie and not even realize like, ‘Oh, there’s no guns’, but I think it actually makes it more anxiety-inducing because you’re like, ‘How is she going to take these guys down without a weapon like that?”

Aubrey Plaza on Emily the Criminal’s lack of guns as a positive to the story
Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal

During the interview, Jimmy Fallon admits that he didn’t even notice the lack of firearms until after he had seen the movie and was reading reviews on the internet. Aubrey Plaza thinks that most people won’t even actively notice the lack of guns while the film because of the increased anxiety from wondering how Emily will get out of the latest jam. Given the rise in action films of utilizing everyday objects instead of exclusively guns, think the bus scene from Nobody or John Wick: Chapter 2’s bathhouse (which had a lot of guns, but the fun came from how one guy without any could win).

Having originally broken out as a comedic actress on Parks and Recreation, Aubrey Plaza has taken on more risky roles in recent years, from the gun-less starring role in Emily the Criminal to being part of the ensemble in The White Lotus season 2. Plaza was a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress nominee for her role in the hit HBO series, losing out to her co-star, Jennifer Coolidge. While it’s unlikely that she’ll return to the fictional resort chain for the upcoming third season, Plaza will instead be joining the MCU with an undisclosed role in Agatha: Coven of Chaos on Disney+.