“Lizzy makes choices that are a good reflection of who she is as a person,” says her close friend Busy Philipps. The two met in 1999 on the set of the beloved, prematurely canceled series Freaks and Geeks, but became tight via Philipps’s husband, writer-producer Marc Silverstein. She continues: “She has this effortlessly cool thing about her that is incredibly attractive.”
On the other hand, you quickly run out of adjectives to describe Caplan’s unconventional persona (mordant, witty, rebellious) in project after project. For most actors, being typecast isn’t as bad as, say, studios refusing to insure you because of your drug habit—but it isn’t great, either.
Luckily, four years ago Caplan landed a leading role alongside Welsh theater vet Michael Sheen in Showtime’s Masters of Sex, currently in its fourth season. She plays Virginia Johnson, a trailblazing sexologist who, beginning in the 1950s, treated no subject as taboo at a time when almost everything that went on in the bedroom was considered off limits. “One of the best results of being on Masters of Sex is that it has kind of gotten rid of the conversation of whether I was too modern,” says Caplan.
Case in point: This month, Caplan can be seen in director Robert Zemeckis’s romantic thriller Allied. Set during World War II and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, it marks her first Oscar-baiting period drama—a far cry from more typical, lighthearted fare like last summer’s Now You See Me 2, the sequel to 2013’s magician caper. “Lizzy is a terrific actress, and she has a confident, comfortable way of interacting with her co-stars,” says Zemeckis. “That It Girl quality shines through in her performance.”
Caplan says she and the film’s leads mostly chatted about places to eat in the various cities they call home, but their celebrity wattage was impossible to ignore. “They’re like creatures from another dimension,” says Caplan, adding some squiggly lines to her dino’s rib cage. “I saw a few things behind the monitor and I was like, ‘Oh, I see. They just glow from within.’ Most people would be freaking out that they were hanging around Brad Pitt, but I was fully obsessed with Marion. She’s just legit French-girl cool.”
The store’s clerk returns with more paint and examines Caplan’s work. She starts offering sponges, puffy paints, pens—every tool at her disposal to assist in her creation. “I’ll take a sponge,” Caplan says. After she leaves, Caplan adds, “I really feel like this is coming to life and she’s so disappointed.”
Coat and dress by Monse, boots by Lacoste.