You've-Seen-Her-Everywhere Actress Lizzy Caplan Talks Candy Bras, Dressing Like a Sex Scientist and Her New Movie
You may know her as Janis Ian, but there's so much more to this talented actress.
I'm personally declaring next weekend "See A Weird Movie Weekend" And if weird is what you're after, you won't do better than 3,2,1... Frankie Go Boom. (The NSFW red band trailer will give you an idea of the lunacy you're in for, but at the movie's heart (once you get past the constant f-bombs and awkward sexual activity), is a kind of sweet romance between Charlie Hunnam and one of our favorite actresses, Lizzy Caplan. Lizzy has been in about a billion things you've seen (I mean, Mean Girls' Janis Ian!, plus True Blood and New Girl) and about a billion things you probably haven't, but should (Party Down, Hot Tub TIme Machine). Whatever she's in, Lizzy just has a way of sprinking in the coolness, which pretty much means we're game for anything she does, even if it involves seeing Chris Noth's ass (more than I needed Mr. Big!) as Frankie does. Read on for what Lizzy has to say about her current movie, her upcoming role as Virginia Johnson in Showtime's Masters of Sex (about the legendary sex researchers, Masters and Johnson), and the prospects of a movie based on her canceled, geek-worshipped Party Down TV series.
Lucky: So I watched the movie last night, which is a totally riotous, funny movie. Your character is actually one of the more normal people in the movie, considering the people you’re surrounded with. How did you get your head around Lassie?
LC: I don’t generally feel drawn to the straight man character, but I also think that Charlie (Hunnam) had a lot of that heavy lifting to do as well. The total unraveling that Lassie, my character, has on film as her introduction was enough to get me to sign on to the movie.
Was your sex scene the only time in your life you’ve gotten to wear a bra made out of candy?
I think that’s a very personal question.
Was it actually made of real candy?
It was, not the red part, but they glued real candy onto it. I think it was real candy. I didn’t eat it.
Well, that’s good to know. It looked like those necklaces you get when you’re a kid.
Totally. I think they didn’t want to use a real edible one as the base because they were afraid it was going to tear or melt or something.
You have to careful when casting your edible bra.
You really do. People don’t think about that enough.
Was it like a pretty immediate click for you and Charlie? You have great chemistry onscreen.
Thanks. Yeah, we got along really well. We hit it off pretty instantly. It always helps when you know someone is friends with a lot of friends of mine who I really like. So you can kind of ask around, and he got high remarks from everybody. He’s a good boy, that Charlie.
The drama of the movie centers around a video leaked to YouTube. Do you watch a lot of You Tube yourself? Are you a sort of online person?
The viral videos, but they really have to be around, and they have to be brought up to me, and I have to force myself to watch them. Like I still haven’t seen that, what is it? That gangnam style thing? I don’t really understand what it is, but yeah, I’m on the Internet a lot. I’m not very internet-savvy per se. I just usually waste a bunch of time on it.
What are some of your favorite sites?
I read Deadline because I feel like that’s doing a little briefing each day on shit that might apply to me. I read the paper online, you know the New York Times, the Huffington Post. Sometimes I get sucked into a Jezebel story, a Gawker story, stuff like that. Really my favorite website is the Cracked website, the science section. Yeah, really you can just do that for hours and hours.
Do you read your own reviews? Do you Google yourself?
I really try not to. If there’s something that somebody thinks I should read then they’ll send it to me. I just think it’s bad for you. I’ve definitely been seduced by it before, and it’s just a slippery slope because then you get obsessed with it.
You once said you like to make movies that really make you happy or piss you off. Which category do you feel like this movie fits into?
I think that this movie will probably make people happy. I ‘m hoping. I mean there’s offensive stuff in it certainly, but I don’t see this one pissing people off as much as let’s say Bachelorette which I was just in. I don’t see it dividing people that much. I do think that it’s a brave movie in that we do take a lot of really strange risks. It’s sort of one right after another. So maybe from a filmmaking perspective people will get annoyed with that, but whatever.
You always seem to choose the coolest projects and just sort of have a reputation for never going wrong. Is that just luck?
That’s nice, thank you. I think early on it was purely luck and chance because I auditioned for everything when I was just starting out, and just by random some cosmic thing, I ended up doing Freaks and Geeks first which I believe set the ball rolling to keep me on a path of interesting comedy projects. But usually I’m very selective. I think things through maybe too much before signing on to them, so little movies like this, I think they’re well worth the risk because if they’re terrible or if they don’t work in any way, then people don’t see them. I’m sure you could dig up some pretty not cool projects of mine as well.
Is there any role you’re dying to play that you haven’t yet, something that would make people think of you in a different way?
Yeah, I mean I’m excited about my upcoming television show because it’s a drama and a period piece.
Masters of Sex?
Yeah, I’m very very pumped to get to do something like that because I think it’s completely different than anything I’ve ever done. It’s such a challenge and totally intimidating and very exciting all at the same time. The kind of the stuff that I haven’t done is always overly appealing, like I’d love to do an action movie or some sci-fi spaceship movie, just anything new where I have to learn a new skill, then I’m into it.
Are you enjoying the period piece wardrobe aspect to it?
We shot the pilot, so I have an idea of kind of it. I will say it is one of the most gorgeous pieces of film I’ve seen. I mean, it just looks amazing. Our director, John Madden, is genius, and it’s very, very, very authentic. I remember opening up my character’s desk drawer, and nobody was ever going to see in this drawer. There was never a shot of it or anything. Every little paperclip, every pen was from the '50s. Top to bottom, the set decoration was incredible. It’s just a fancier show than I’m used to being a part of. So I’m pumped about it.
Yeah, it looks like it could really give Mad Men a run for its money on the style end.
Well, they’re definitely more stylish than we are because they’re a New York City show, and our show takes place in Missouri, so it’s a very different vibe. I mean yes, they both take place in a similar time period, but the shows could not be more different.
What are the staples of what your character wears? Pencil skirts?
Yeah, a lot of pencil skirts, a lot of nylons with the seam down the back, practical heels. I mean the clothes are amazing. They made one dress, we had a party scene, that was unbelievable. So to get to wear a ball gown is totally exciting for me. But they’re not the flashiest dressers by any means. They’re scientists.
What role do people most recognize you from? Mean Girls or maybe Party Down for that crowd?
Yeah, I guess it depends on the crowd. Mean Girls is one which most people have seen, and it is so cool that new generations of high school girls continue to be really into that movie. Like the comedy snobs are much more drawn to Party Down, so it just depends, and the sci-fi people are into Cloverfield. The audiences are so different for all of them. But I guess Mean Girls is probably the most beloved, but Party Down is kind of giving it a run for its money.
Looking back on Janis Ian’s style, she definitely had that dark, teen-angsty thing going on. Did you go through a period like that yourself?
Ish. I mean I had dyed black hair in school, but I went to a performing arts high school, so that wasn’t necessarily wild. I had friends with like full back tattoos when we were like fifteen. I definitely was trying to do my own thing, but I was also surrounded by a sea of people trying to do their own thing. It was pretty lucky.
Is the Party Down movie happening?
Well, all of us want to make a movie. But I have zero details in terms of when we will actually start shooting. Everyone is so busy, and we have nothing officially set in stone, but we have a lot of strong-willed people in the Party Down group, and we really want to make it happen, so we will make it happen.
Right, and going back to 3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom, it ends on a hopeful note. Would you say Lassie is a romantic at heart or that she’s coming around?
I think she’s coming around in a very guarded way. I don’t think she’s had a lot of examples of what mature love looks like. Her family situation was so screwed up, so I think it will take her a while. I like to see the bravery of Lassie and giving it a shot at the end and basically trying.
3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom is on VOD now and in theaters next Friday, October 12.