Lizzy Caplan Takes One-Shot at 'Sex'

Jarett Wieselman
The Insider

Like many of you, I was instantly fell under Lizzy Caplan's spell with 2004's Mean Girls -- but what's been exceedingly exciting about her post-Janis Ian (dyke) career is the diversity and unpredictability of ever subsequent role.

Her career has jumped from film to television and back again as she flirted with every genre in between. Her latest project, the Marvel one-shot short Item 47, debuts on September's The Avengers Blu-ray DVD and recently premiered at San Diego Comic-Con for a select group of ravenous fans (yours truly included).

After the screening I caught up with Lizzy to find out why she signed on for this 12-minute short, if this means she's now part of The Avengers sequel and what you can expect from her next project, an(other) expectation-shattering hop back in time to investigate human sexuality on Showtime's Masters of Sex! Marvel is known for super secrecy, so how much about this one-off short film did you know before signing on?
Lizzy Caplan: I think I was able to read the script ... they were very secretive about the whole thing. But it was a very short time commitment, and I knew it was going to be explosive, so, why not! Plus, you don't say no to Marvel. It's like saying no to the President of the United States.

RELATED - Updates on Iron Man 3 & Captain America 2 What did you like about your character, Claire (who goes on a robbery-spree with her boyfriend, played by Jesse Bradford, after finding one of the alien guns left behind at the end of The Avengers)?
Lizzy: I liked that the girl role was the ballsier of the two. That she was the more dangerous character -- I always like stories where the girl gets to be the tough one. And, really, I like shooting stuff in movies and making stuff explode. They asked me to do that, and I never say no to that! If you were in her place, what would you have done?
Lizzy: I would do the same thing [laughs]. When push comes to shove and are asked if will you use your powers for good or evil, I'm fairly certain I'd use mine for evil.

RELATED - Cobie Smulders Talks Avengers Your characters are tracked by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in Item 47 and without revealing what happens, this film very much leaves the door open for you to be a part of The Avengers 2. Are you signed on for any additional Marvel projects?
Lizzy: I get the talk of these one-shots introducing characters, but Marvel has also been very vocal about how difficult it is to do that because [Avengers 2] doesn't have a director. And directors like to cast their own movies. So I'm not holding my breath – this was a very fun experience, and if that's all it ever is, I'm totally cool with that. I'd also be very cool with it turning into more. Well either way, you'll be very busy filming Showtime's new series, Masters of Sex. What excites you about that project?
Lizzy: The process of getting that job was so lengthy and complicated. John Madden directed it and he's this very fancy, amazing guy who did Shakespeare in Love. He really saw me in this part way before I actually saw myself in the role. Typically you're typecast in your comfort zone but this is so far outside that for me. This is a true period piece drama, but when I read the book this show is based on, the character [Virginia Johnson] and I are so alike, so I could really see myself in her. Plus, she's such a pioneer and a total badass. If I can raise awareness for what she did at this strange time in America, then sign me up!

RELATED - Avengers High School Yearbook! For those who don't know, who is Virginia Johnson?
Lizzy: A lot of people are familiar with Kinsey – they did questionnaires asking people about their sexual preferences, which was ground-breaking at the time. Masters & Johnson were research scientists – well, he was and she pretended to be. They would wire people to electrodes and heart-monitors to watch them masturbate and have sex [in hopes of figuring] out the science of an orgasm. People were adhering to Freudian ideas, which were so masculine and female sexuality was so far in the background. Masters & Johnson, combined with the sexual revolution, gave women power over their own bodies. What's easier for you -- performing sex scenes or watching other actors perform sex scenes?
Lizzy: I get a weird kick of out shooting sex scenes because they're just so awkward. They're so uncomfortable that the situation makes me laugh. There's something sort of fun about it since you're usually doing it with a good looking co-stars, so, whatever, it's part of the job. I'll take it. So I thought watching other people pretend to have sex would be so easy, but I was so uncomfortable. It was so weird to watch other people because it makes you self-conscious and think about what you look like when you're shooting a sex scene. But I better get used to it because [Masters & Johnson] watched a lot of people do it. I mean, they observed over 10,000 orgasms. Which is why the show clearly had to be on Showtime.
Lizzy: Yea. It's interesting still how male full frontal nudity is still taboo most of the time. I'm going to really push for Michael Sheen [who plays William Masters] to show his parts on this show. As an actor, you just really admire the bravery of other actors to do that because it's weird not only for them to have to perform in front of a small crew, but to do it in front of other actors watching them. It's ridiculous. And finally, I have to ask -- are our dreams of a Party Down movie still warranted?
Lizzy: Yes, hold onto it very tightly. The more vocal our fans are, the better our chances are. The cast and creators want nothing more than to make this movie. We will do it, I just don't know when. But it was cool, I saw some people dressed as Party Down caterers here at Comic-Con. Are you sure they weren't just Comic-Con caterers?
Lizzy: Oh gosh ... I hope not – because I really talked to them for a long time [laughs].

Item 47 will be available exclusively on Marvel's The Avengers Blu-ray September 25 while Masters of Sex premieres in 2013.

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