Lizzy Caplan didn’t know it was going to be this way.
When she signed up to voice the role of Reagan, the lead in Inside Job, the first adult animated title from Netflix Animation Studio, she thought it would be just like any other job in the animation realm. A cozy studio, a supportive cast, a full creative team in her ear.
Cut to: Caplan recording Reagan’s audio in her closet.
It wasn’t what she had planned, but it turned out that becoming a one-woman-band audio engineer was exactly the creative fuel that Caplan needed to get through COVID. Inside Job, created by Gravity Falls writer Shion Takeuchi, is about a band of misfit team responsible for shepherding the shadow government and conspiracy theories that run the world. And it saved her.
With a voice cast that also includes Christian Slater, Brett Gelman and Tisha Campbell, the show goes deep into the Deep State, as much about reflecting humanity back onto itself as it is about indicting it.
Daniel Trainor spoke to Caplan about the experience of making the show, conspiracy theories she hopes are real, her love of sweatpants and what she sings at karaoke.
All ten episodes of Inside Job are currently available to stream on Netflix.
Daniel Trainor: You’ve done voice work on shows like The Simpsons and American Dad, but this is your first leading role in animation. What made you want to do Inside Job and how did the preparation differ as the lead voice actor?
Lizzy Caplan: Shockingly, it’s a bit more work! A lot more work than having one line on The Simpsons. It’s a completely different thing. As you said, I’ve done some stuff before, but it’s been a very limited amount. As opposed to just getting my line or little scene, I got to look at it as any script that would come my way. I was taken by Reagan. The world is hilarious. I loved talking to Shion, our showrunner, about her vision. It was a no-brainer to sign on. But I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t really realize how much work goes into making a show like this. From the first reading of the script until when I finally got to see some of the finished episodes, I was just so impressed by everybody behind the scenes, primarily Shion. I’m really proud of it. I think it’s great.
Trainor: There’s a lot of depth to the show once you start peeling back the layers. A theme that keeps coming back is the difficulty for women to be taken seriously in the workplace. Reagan isn’t fun enough, she isn’t nice enough, she isn’t friendly enough. Were there conversations about that between you and Shion?
Caplan: It’s an ongoing conversation with women always. It’s a conversation we’re never not having. Because you’re right, it’s not news that it’s different for women than it is for men in the workplace. It’s hard enough for the most charming, smartest woman in the world. Reagan has none of those people skills. For her, it’s nearly impossible. She has palpable frustration with that, but she also has to deal with parts of her personality that people don’t like when she should really just get to be the genius boss bitch that she is.
Trainor: Prior to the show, how familiar were you with the concept of the Deep State and how much research did you do, or were you scared of getting put on some kind of list?
Caplan: (laughs) I stayed off the dark web. For now. I mean, aren’t we all exposed to that way of thinking now? It comes up constantly in mainstream news because, all of a sudden, people really believe that there is a Deep State. Many people believe it! I don’t think I needed to do that much research, sadly. At this moment in time, conspiracy theories are served up to everybody on a daily basis. So, you’re either somebody who gets sucked up in them or you’re somebody who is shaking their head at those who are. What I like about this show is that we’re not really tackling the ones that are upsetting. These conspiracy theories are more of the throwback variety! You know, when they were simple and fun and funny! There are so many now that are the opposite of funny. For the purposes of “Inside Job,” we’re going to stick to the funny ones.
Trainor: Before the show, what was your patience for conspiracy theories and if there’s one that, even if you don’t fully believe is real, you’d really love if it was.
Caplan: I guess the one that’s in the back of my head that I kind of hope is real is that Andy Kaufman isn’t dead.
Trainor: Yes! Right?
Caplan: Right? I could get behind that one. In terms of my views changing, not really. But there is something interesting…I guess the right word isn’t interesting. The right word is probably tragic. There’s something tragic about any avenue that you choose to go down, there’s enough content that will support any conspiracy theory. Sources that appear to be reputable can convince people of just about anything, which is why the joy has been drained out of conspiracy theories. Now it all seems so sinister and sad. But as Shion has pointed out, one of the underlying themes of this show, which is worth remembering when you do find yourself on that slippery slope of conspiracy theories, is that you can take a step back and ask yourself ‘how many people would have to be behind this, keeping their mouths shut for this to actually be true?,’ because it’s just not human nature to be able to pull that off. If the answer is more than two people, then chances are it might require some closer examination.
Trainor: I’m intrigued about the specific process of doing the voice work for the show during this time. Were you going into the studio, were you recording at home, was it a little bit of both?
Caplan: I’m curious about what the process is like under normal circumstances. The way it started off is probably how it would have gone down. We had table reads, we recorded in a booth at a studio with the producers and director there. And then…COVID. I’m in London now. I did a lot of recording in London remotely in a studio. Back in L.A., I recorded in my closet with the lights turned off. Because the lights made noise. So, it went from what one would imagine it to be like to the most roll up your sleeves, let’s get this done any way we possibly can. Christian Slater recorded under a duvet. I understand why people have recording studios in their houses.
Trainor: I was going to say. Did this make you reconsider just annexing a room of your home for Season Two?
Caplan: It would not be a bad idea. I’m new to this whole animation game! I’d be crazy if I already had one of those set up, so it was a dark closet for me.
Trainor: There had to have been something so freeing about that, though. It’s just a bare bones distillation of the art.
Caplan: It was. It absolutely was. I’m really bad with anything technical. They would just show up at the house with kits to help you turn your closet into a recording studio. They would just hand me stuff and run away. I’d take it into my closet and try to figure it out. I was constantly on the phone with the engineers trying to get anything to work. So, the fact that it did work and it sounds like we were all in the room together is a miracle. It’s a miracle. To be honest, it was the job that got me through COVID. It was the only thing I did for a very long stretch of time. I’m very happy I naively signed on before any of us had ever even heard of COVID.
Trainor: So, you’re an audio engineer now. Is there anything else you took on over the past year-and-a-half that you can call a new skill?
Caplan: Well, I had started baking well before lockdown and then when everybody started baking, I stopped doing it. Been there, done that. God, it’s really strange. It feels like it was so long ago now, even though it also feels like it’s still happening. Like, I still only wear sweatpants. That’s still happening. I still only want to have meetings on Zoom. I don’t want to be around other humans. As far as something else I got good at? Uh, nothing. At the beginning, I was a very good jigsaw puzzler. I got very good at wine?
Trainor: Hey, me too! I know what you mean. I have a wedding to attend this weekend and the absolute terror I’m feeling to put on a suit? It’s insane.
Caplan: I know! The thought of putting on jeans? That’s impossible!
Trainor: We get to see Reagan perform karaoke to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” during an episode. I’m wondering, what is Lizzy Caplan’s go-to karaoke song?
Caplan: I am not the biggest karaoke person. But! The Stone Poneys’ “Different Drum” is my go-to. I like to bring the emotion. What’s yours?
Trainor: It depends on the mood and the vibe. I have two. “Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen and “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by Celine Dion.
Trainor: It depends on how many drinks I’ve had, let’s be honest.
Caplan: That’s what it’s for!
Trainor: Congratulations on the show. I’m even more impressed now knowing that you recorded it from your closet.
Caplan: Thank you!
All 10 episodes of Inside Job are now available to stream exclusively on Netflix.
Photos: Quinn Jeffrey/Shutterstock; Netflix