Lizzy Caplan is not afraid to break the rules. Never one for ingenue roles, early on in her career, Caplan carved her path by playing characters who felt like your no-bullshit best friend rather than the girl next door archetype.
The characters she plays are wildly different from one another, whether that’s high school outcast Janis Ian in the film Mean Girls, a slightly chaotic and self-sabotaging Gena in the dark comedy Bachelorette, or sexologist and ahead-of-her-time real-life feminist Virginia Johnson in Showtime’s Masters of Sex. They’re all, in their way, representative of real women who are trying to get through the complications of life.
It’s the exploratory work and getting underneath the muck that Caplan finds the most invigorating and something that has consumed her standout year, taking on deep, nuanced portrayals. One is the iconic Alex Forrest in Paramount+’s Fatal Attraction, and the other is Libby, a 40-something former journalist stuck in suburbia hell in the FX limited series Fleishman is in Trouble.
“What I like about [my career] now is the issues that I’m exploring in the jobs that I’ve been doing recently,” said Caplan. “They’re right at the apex of what I find interesting [at] this age. I feel like I got to do that in my 20s, too, and I got to do that in my 30s. The stuff that has preoccupied my brain as a woman, I’ve gotten to work it out on screen through these characters.”
In Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman, Caplan’s Libby is an old friend of the titular Fleishman, Toby (Jesse Eisenberg). At the onset, you think you’ll be watching a story about a man journeying through dating apps and coming to terms with the finality of his divorce. Over the course of the season, the focus shifts to the two women in proximity to Toby—his ex-wife Rachel and Libby. Libby is in a mid-life crisis, dealing with her identity as a mother, and a stagnant career, all the while mourning the loss of her youth. It’s an Emmy-worthy slow burn of a performance by Caplan that makes you wish you had a few more episodes watching her, but luckily, there’s more work coming around the corner for Lizzy Caplan.
I sat down with Caplan to discuss her career, growing into adulthood, and those societal goalposts often attached to women.
Lizzy Caplan is Emmy-eligible in the categories of Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Fatal Attraction and Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for Fleishman is in Trouble.
Photos: Monty Brinton/Paramount+; Matthias Clamer/FX