Christy Grosz is a contributor to Awardsline.
After a career mostly spent in comedy, Lizzy Caplan has taken on the serious role of sex researcher and proto-feminist Virginia Johnson in Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, based on the 2009 biography by Thomas Maier. Caplan says playing opposite Michael Sheen, who stars as Dr. Bill Masters, was clever casting on many levels. “It seems like a smart choice to put an actor as established and respected as Michael Sheen opposite a comedic actress, because it mirrors the relationship between Bill and Virginia,” she says. Caplan, who’s still not past the “blind-gratitude phase” of the role, discusses her admiration for Johnson and those awkward sex scenes.
AWARDSLINE: Did the subject matter of Masters Of Sex ever give you pause?
LIZZY CAPLAN: Not really. Of course, in reading it and knowing what was to be expected of me if I ever got the role, that’s something I think anybody would think about. But I was so enamored with this woman, and her story, and who she was, that I knew it would be such a privilege and an honor to get to play her. Part of who she was, was this unbelievably comfortable-in-her-own-sexuality type of woman in a time when that was not exactly the norm. So I knew if I were to get to play this part, I had to figure out a way to be completely OK with it, and it didn’t take very long. Clearly, I’m not squeamish about it or else I don’t think I would’ve tried (out) for it.
Michael Sheen came to the Masters of Sex Q&A at PaleyFest and tried to class up the joint with a lot of talk about playing Hamlet, and reading Arthur Miller as a teen only to discover Miller’s plays had no bad characters — just people making bad choices. Fortunately, he was greatly outnumbered on stage at the Dolby Theatre by the women of Showtime’s 1950s-set drama series about real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson. They wanted to talk about the drudgery of maintaining a ’50s hairdo and the best way to pee in a girdle.
Sheen, known for playing David Frost in Frost/Nixon and Tony Blair in The Queen, said playing Masters was the “perfect combination” for an actor, because he was a famous historical figure but was little known as a man and so “private” and “secretive and mysterious” that, “by necessity you have to invent a lot as well.” And while he was not looking to do television, Sheen said he was receptive to the idea, because “you can tell a story over 12 hours [that] really opens the door, as an actor, to explore character in a different way.” Pay cablers like Showtime are “a stratum of filmmaking that’s not being done in film any more. … Writing is so strong in television at the moment … the sophistication of the audience … the bar is very high, and that pushes you to do the best work you can.”
Related: PaleyFest 2014 Schedule
Masters Of Sex star Lizzy Caplan just closed a deal to play the female lead opposite Seth Rogen and James Franco in The Interview, directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg. She will play the role of Agent Lacey in the film. She is repped by WME, Mosaic and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.
EXCLUSIVE: Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, Shiloh Fernandez, Kelli Garner and David Giuntoli have followed Warren Zavala from CAA to become clients of WME. Zavala left CAA Sunday to join WME, and yesterday Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Dano, Big Bang Theory‘s Johnny Galecki, Amber Heard and Mary Elizabeth Winstead followed him. There are a few more in play, but Zavala has managed to retain almost his entire client list.
EXCLUSIVE: Adam Scott has been set to star in A.C.O.D., with Stuart Zicherman making his directorial debut on a script he wrote with Ben Karlin. The project is being financed and produced by Black Bear Pictures, which is currently in production with an untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid.
The title, A.C.O.D., is an acronym for Adult Children of Divorce, and Scott plays a thirty-ish man who was forced at an early age to be the adult of his family when his parents split bitterly. Fed up dealing with his parents’ long running feud, he must get his folks together once more time and keep from blowing a gasket after his younger brother unexpectedly decides to get married. Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman is producing with Karlin (who co-created The Colbert Report) and Tim Perell. The film will shoot in March, and Scott will work it into his schedule starring in the NBC sitcom Parks and Rec.
It is the end of January, and pilot offers to actors are going out fast and furious. Like every year, there are several actors that attract the lion’s share of offers. In the leading man category, two 40-something actors, Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler and Brotherhood alum Jason Isaacs, are red-hot, fielding a half-dozen offers each.
Among the ladies, Ugly Betty alumna Becki Newton is once again in demand despite the fact that her pilot gig could be in second position to her current series, NBC’s midseason dramedy Love Bites whose prospects are dim with a cut-back order and no premiere date set. (Love Bites co-star Greg Grunberg already booked the lead in the A&E pilot Big Mike in first position). Also sitting on multiple offers is Gilmore Girls alumna Krysten Ritter. Casting directors on several projects are also sending out feelers to Christina Applegate, who just gave birth to her first child. Other TV actors lured to return to series TV are Debra Messing, Jason Bateman, James Spader, Daniel Sunjata, Ali Larter, Lizzy Caplan and Katee Sackhoff.
Lizzy Caplan is back in business with Sony TV and studio-based producer Jamie Tarses – she has signed on for a guest shot on their new ABC series Mr. Sunshine starring Matthew Perry. Caplan famously stepped in at the last minute to play a lead on the Sony/Tarses pilot for CBS Mad Love as a guest star and helped the pilot score a midseason order but she also caused a holdup in the deal as the network and the studio first tried to persuade her to stay on and then had to find a replacement when she declined. (Judy Greer was eventually cast in the role.) Mr. Sunshine stars Perry as Ben Donovan, the sports arena manager for the Sunshine Center, a second-tier arena in San Diego. Caplan will play a woman with whom Ben has a romantic interlude and then is surprised to see her showing up at work the next morning … as his boss’ (Allison Janney) new assistant. Caplan joins other recently booked guest stars on the show, including Nick Jonas, Jimmy Connors, James Taylor and Jorge Garcia. Caplan, who recently starred on Straz’s comedy Party Down, is developing a comedy at HBO with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The project, based on Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band, which is eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Caplan.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is teaming with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez and actress Lizzy Caplan to develop a comedy series project based on actress/writer Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band. The project is eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Caplan, who is coming off Starz’s cult comedy series Party Down. The book, a gritty but comedic look at what it’s like to navigate the dating world in your 20s, chronicles Klausner’s experiences from her preadolescent sexual awakenings through the unsavory details of sleeping with a gallery of losers throughout her 20s.
Gary Sanchez’s Owen Burke brought the book to the company’s Jessica Elbaum, who recently received an Emmy nomination for executive producing Ferrell’s You’re Welcome America HBO special. (She also exec produced the one-man Broadway play the special was adapted from from.) Elbaum started developing the project with Caplan. Gary Sanchez’ Ferrell, McKay, Chris Henchy and Elbaum will executive produce Band, with Caplan and Burke producing.
Band expands Gary Sanchez’ relationship with HBO. The CAA/WME-repped company produces HBO’s comedy series Eastbound & Down, which is returning for a second season. HBO also owns a stake in Gary Sanchez’s successful comedy web site Funny or Die, which spawned a Funny or Die-branded sketch comedy series on the pay cable channel.
Caplan, repped by CAA and Benderspink, also has a history with HBO where she recurred on True Blood. The actress recently completed Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and indie Queens …
EXCLUSIVE: Judy Greer has signed on to star in the CBS comedy Mad Love. With her and recent addition Sarah Chalke on board, the pilot’s 13-episode midseason order has now been finalized. CBS had been working on a pickup deal with producing studios Sony TV and CBS Studios for the past month, but it was contingent on locking in the cast. Greer replaces Lizzy Caplan who played the role in the pilot as a guest star but couldn’t commit beyond that.