Elizabeth Anne Caplan (born June 30, 1982) is an American actress and model.
After starting her career in the critically acclaimed television series Freaks and Geeks in 1999, Caplan started to get wider attention for her roles in films Mean Girls (2004) and Cloverfield (2008), the latter earned her a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. Caplan has also starred in the television shows The Class, True Blood, and Party Down. She starred as Virginia Johnson in the Showtime series Masters of Sex, for which she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award, Satellite Award and Critics’ Choice Television Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Her other film appearances include Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), 127 Hours (2010), Save the Date (2012), Bachelorette (2012), The Interview (2014), Now You See Me 2 (2016), and Allied (2016). In 2013, she began playing 1960s human sexuality pioneer Virginia Johnson on the Showtime series Masters of Sex. Caplan also provided her own vocals for a cover version of the song “You Don’t Know Me” in the Masters of Sex episode “Phallic Victories”. Her performance on the show was well-reviewed, and on July 10, 2014, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Caplan was cast in her role as Virginia Johnson before they signed her co-star Michael Sheen as William H. Masters because he was busy working on another production. Producer Sarah Timberman said of Caplan, “the minute we met Lizzie we thought that she just embodied so much of the spirit of Virginia Johnson.” Caplan also stated herself that as a single woman pursuing her career above a family, she identified with many of Johnson’s characteristics. Once she met the producers, it took several months before Caplan was officially signed, and she turned down several other roles in the meantime.
Virginia Johnson worked alongside William H. Masters as they completed research of human sexual response and sexual dysfunction beginning in the late 1950s. To learn about the characters they were portraying Caplan along with her other co-stars read Thomas Maier’s 2009 biography Masters of Sex. The author also allowed Caplan to listen to some of his interview tapes with Johnson. Caplan also attempted to spend some time with Johnson before she died in 2013, but Johnson was ambivalent about the development of the show. It was the first time she portrayed a real person and Caplan mentioned in an interview that she felt a “deep responsibility” to Johnson, but that she had some wiggle room because most people have no idea what Johnson looked or sounded like. Maier stated that the developers of the show have remained mostly accurate to his book and have included other events that are historically relevant to St. Louis, where the series takes place and where Masters and Johnson lived. Caplan has discussed becoming comfortable with the large number of sex scenes in Masters of Sex. Her portrayal of American sexologist Virginia Johnson was her first serious dramatic role, resulting in nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award, Satellite Award and Critics’ Choice Television Award, all for Outstanding Lead Actress.