Lizzy Caplan is a very attractive woman. In the new series Masters of Sex, Caplan plays real-life renowned sex researcher Virginia Johnson as someone who consistently gets considerable sexual and romantic attention from men.
So I ask Caplan, how much of that is based on what we know as the truth? Or would Masters of Sex be a different show had they cast someone less attractive?
"That's very nice of you to say, and I'm very tempted to be completely self-effacing in this moment, but I'm going to go ahead and just say thank you," says Caplan, 31.
"But that's one of the main things people say when they talk about Virginia Johnson. This is stuff I've read in the book our show is based on, but also I know a few people, family friends who live in the Midwest, who saw her speak later in life. And the main thing they say was that she had this very tangible sex appeal, even when she was middle-aged or older.
"Her candidness in talking about sex and sexuality, her clear ownership over her own body and sexuality and her confidence and all of that, made her super sexually attractive. That's pretty much the objective opinion of everybody I've talked to and everything I've read about her."
Masters of Sex, which debuts Sunday on The Movie Network and Movie Central, tells the story of William Masters, played by Michael Sheen, and Caplan's Virginia Johnson. Their sex research began in the 1950s and was scandalous for the times, but when their first text on the subject - titled Human Sexual Response - was published in 1966, it literally changed the world, especially for females.
As the title of the TV series suggests, there's a decent amount of sex in Masters of Sex, which originates on Showtime. But ironically, there's less sex than in some cable shows.
"If I had qualms about that part of the show (the sex and nudity), I should not have been going after it in the first place," Caplan says. "It's very important to portray Virginia as a sexually confident person.
"I agree that with a pay-cable subscription, audiences have come to expect a certain level of nudity. But often it's like you have to take a three-minute break to watch people have sex and then you get back to the story. Our show, I honestly believe, is completely devoid of any gratuitous sex. All of the sex is earned and useful and there's a reason why we're showing it."
Knowing what she knows now about Masters and Johnson, and how much her world view has been affected by those two people, Caplan says it's astonishing that she hadn't heard of them prior to her involvement with Masters of Sex.
"Before (Masters and Johnson), nobody was willing to unravel any of that mystery (of the female body), and it was really, really detrimental to females," Caplan says. "If anything, their research proved that men's bodies are just not as well equipped for sex, so how about that?"
No one needed a study to tell me that, Lizzy.