In her 20 years on the big and small screen, Lizzy Caplan has done and seen just about all. She’s been a freak and a geek, she’s been mean, she’s fought monsters and vampires, she’s been a monster, and she knows a lot about sex. Her well-rounded resume has served her well and it looks to continue for the foreseeable future.
Lizzy Caplan got her start on the critically acclaimed, but short-lived, TV series Freaks and Geeks. Caplan had a recurring role in the series and because of how well she performed, her character was then written in to become the girlfriend of series star Jason Segel. While critics loved the show, its erratic time changes made it tough for viewers to find it. At least that is what NBC said when they canceled it. The series lasted one season, having shot 18 episodes, but NBC only aired 12 before they shut it down. Eventually, all 18 were shown but on a different network.
Lizzy Caplan found time on other TV shows early on. She was in Undeclared, Once and Again, Smallville, and The Pitts, a series about the crazy adventures of a family who have been saddled with the worst luck in the world. From The Pitts, Caplan went on to a feature film that opened a few eyes.
The movie that really got Lizzy Caplan attention was Mean Girls. Based on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabees by author Rosalind Wiseman, it talks about how damaging female high school cliques were to girls. The movie showcased this well from the script written by Tina Fey.
Lindsay Lohan starred in Mean Girls and was opposed by Rachel McAdams and her Plastics, which included Lacy Chabert and in her first role, Amanda Seyfried. For Lizzy Caplan’s part, she played the goth-inspired Janis Ian, who sides with Lohan’s Cady Heron and helps conspire to take down the queen of mean: McAdams’ Regina George.
After Mean Girls Lizzy Caplan spent a brief time on the TV series Tru Calling. She then moved over to another short-lived WB series Related about four sisters, Caplan the troubled one, who was raised in Brooklyn and now live in New York City.
Lizzy Caplan then spent a short time on another short-lived series The Class, about a group of elementary school friends who come together and reunite after 20 years. After these short-lived series, Lizzy Caplan was ready for something different. And mysterious. And Monstrous.
LIZZY CAPLAN SERVES UP SUCCESS
It was super top-secret. It came from the mind of J.J. Abrams who had decided that, while visiting a toy store with his son in Japan, that American’s need their own monster. So, Abrams went to work. He gave the idea to screenwriter Drew Goddard to write and the result was Cloverfield, an American monster movie.
Lizzy Caplan had no idea what she was signing on for. When she auditioned, Abrams wanted to keep the script so secret that Caplan, along with the other actors, were given scenes from Abram’s previous TV shows like Lost and Alias to read as well as scenes written specifically for the audition which had nothing to do with the movie.
Lizzy Caplan was offered a part, which she took based on the fact that she was a huge fan of Lost. Then she found out what the film was all about and how physically demanding her role would be. She decided at that time that she’d never accept a role again without knowing its full intention.
But it worked. Fans loved the “found footage” aspect of Cloverfield (to the tune of $175 million box office) that began with five friends getting together for a farewell party only to be running for their collective lives from one gigantic monster and a bunch of smaller ones.
Around the time of Cloverfield Lizzy Caplan was busier than ever. She landed a huge role on True Blood, where she showed a lot of skin. She was one of the stars of the cult hit comedy series Party Down. Eventually she even took a trip in a Hot Tub Time Machine.
THE SEX MASTER
For much of Lizzy Caplan’s career, she has played things for laughs. She told the Independent, “My life of being a comedic actress in LA was very satisfying and a lot of fun,” Caplan recalled. “I loved the culture of the comedy world, where everybody bounces onto everybody else’s shows and people do favors for each other. I was probably right at the point where I thought, ‘I’m just gonna be a comedic actress and this is my life and what I should focus on and get better at,’ but there was always this pull to do a variation of things instead.”
Perhaps this is why Lizzy Caplan took on the role of human sexuality pioneer Virginia Johnson opposite Michael Sheen, who played William Masters. Their roles were based on the real-life Masters of Sex.
The series focused on Masters & Johnson, who in the late ’50s became noted experts on human sexual response and sexual dysfunction based on all their studies, research, and “field testing”. For her first truly dramatic role, Caplan received nominations for Emmy’s, Satellite Awards, and Critics’ Choice Television Award.
LIZZY CAPLAN’S NUDE SCENES
Lizzy Caplan has an internet reputation for doing nude scenes, but actually she’s only done nudity on two specific television shows. Basically, she hasn’t shied away from doing nudity in her career, but that doesn’t mean she likes it. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “It still isn’t my favorite thing to do at work. It’s never one hundred percent comfortable, but I think it’s as close as it’s going to get.”
Her first nude scene ever was in True Blood and that, according to an interview she did with Vulture, is when it stopped being scary. Lizzy Caplan says, “It was scary for True Blood because I had never done it before. But as soon as the first scene was over, it was oddly never scary again. It felt very empowering. One would think that you’d feel maybe typically objectified as a woman, but it didn’t feel that way. It was sort of like, Fuck everybody. I’m taking my clothes off. I’m the one who can do that. Can you fucking do that?”
Being on a show like Masters of Sex also ended up requiring a lot of on screen nudity from Lizzy Caplan and even though it’s only the second show she’s been exposed on, she says it feels like more. She says, “with the Internet, it feels like I do it all the time.” The pictures just keep popping back up.
Lizzy Caplan feels especially good about her nude scenes on Masters of Sex. She explains, “It’s beautifully shot, and I’m not getting naked for a room full of people. I’m getting naked and it’s extraordinarily well lit and all of these people are on my side to make me look good doing these things.”
That doesn’t mean nudity is easy for Lizzy Caplan. Talking about what she’s done on Masters of Sex she says, “I find by being an actress, you’re signing up for a life of being picked apart by total strangers. Offering up your naked body is one thing, but it’s just as baseless if people are talking about your performances. So the nudity was something I thought about, but I didn’t think about it very long, and at no point was it going to prevent me from taking this job, because I believed in this show, and I really, really, really wanted to play this character. And if there were any moments of hesitation for me, all I needed to do is think about the fact that the Virginia did it for real in the fifties, and I’m doing it on TV. I have a much easier job.”
LIZZY CAPLAN NOW
For six-years Lizzy Caplan infamously dated Matthew Perry. But they broke up in 2012. Now 38-years-old, she’s been married to English actor Tom Riley since 2017.
These days, Lizzy Caplan is one of the stars of the Hulu series Castle Rock. Her Annie Wilkes is a Stephen King character first introduced in his best-selling novel Misery. She was then brought to the screen in Academy Award-winning fashion by Kathy Bates.
So, when Lizzy Caplan took on the role of a younger Annie Wilkes in Hulu’s Castle Rock, she knew she’d just have to go “balls out.” “There’s just no vanity to [playing Annie] at all. No leading with sexuality or softness, or trying to be demure like a leading lady,” she said to Bustle. “It’s a balls out, BIG, crazy performance. And I find that really liberating.”
She could be talking about one particular scene where her Annie is violently shoving an ice cream scoop down a man’s throat. The second season of a now-canceled Castle Rock focuses on Annie Wilkes’ decent down mentally ill lane. It was a second season that grabbed rave reviews, so when its cancellation was announced it came as a shock to those who followed the series. At least Lizzy Caplan did no harm to the memory of Bates’ Wilkes.
There have been projects in between Masters of Sex and Castle Rock. Lizzy Caplan was seen in the features Allied, The Disaster Artist, and Extinction while also on the small screen in Angie Tribeca, I’m Sorry, Das Boot, and the mini-series Ill Behavior.
Her last project has been as twins on the Apple+ crime drama Truth Be Told, playing both Josie and Lanie Buhrman. While she relishes the roles, it is double the work. “Your day is twice as long, all the time,” she revealed to Bustle. “Because you do [the scene], and then you switch over and do it again. Double the lines to memorize.”
With Lizzy Caplan beginning to explore other genres besides comedy, it’ll be interesting to see what she comes up with next.