Lizzy Caplan Is Our November Cover Star

From a quirky outcast to a sex expert to a World War II assassin’s sister, she's all of us

Photographed by Olivia Malone. styled by Sean Knight.

The following feature appears in the November 2016 issue of NYLON.

Lizzy Caplan wants to paint a dinosaur. Or perhaps she wants to recapture her childhood. The Los Angeles native has chosen to meet at Color Me Mine, a pottery-decorating studio in the Valley that she hasn’t visited since she was little. She holds up a large, clay Tyrannosaurus rex and asks the woman at the counter, “Has anybody done this before?” “Mostly kids,” she’s told. So that settles it.

In a tomato-red sleeveless shirt and denim overalls, the 34-year-old actress looks appropriately dressed for this particular activity. “I don’t think I’m going to do standard green, because that would be boring,” she says, filling her palette with different shades of blue, pink, and yellow.

I choose orange and green for my pumpkin. “So you’re going to stay within the lines, is that what you’re saying?” she asks.

Mockery sounds good-natured coming from her. Why is that? Can Lizzy Caplan do no wrong? Despite existing in an era that often builds celebrities up only to tear them down, and when the internet’s aegis of anonymity practically encourages insults and rancor, you won’t really find anyone saying a sideways thing about the Masters of Sex star.

“That’s aided by not being on social media,” says Caplan. (She eschews all platforms equally.) “And I haven’t reached the level of crazy fame.”

Even so, over the past decade, Caplan has accumulated the types of roles that have suspended her in a pop-cultural sweet spot—appealing characters that blur the distinction between Us and Them. She played a sarcastic caterer in the hilarious Starz series Party Down, a monster’s snarkiest victim in 2008’s Cloverfield, a commitment-averse artist in the affecting 2012 rom-com Save the Date, and a scalding singleton in Leslye Headland’s dark comedy Bachelorette (also 2012). And of course few millennials could forget Janis Ian, the outcast who vied to keep Lindsay Lohan weird in 2004’s now-classic Mean Girls

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Coat and earrings by Proenza Schouler, dress by Tim Coppens.

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