If you’re likely to believe everything you read on the internet, then by most accounts, 2012 is the year Lizzy Caplan broke out. The 30-year-old actress gained “It Girl” status at January’s Sundance Film Festival, where she flexed her comedic timing and effortless charm in the bridesmaids-gone-berserk comedy Bachelorette, and the much sweeter romance, Save the Date. She showed up as a love interest on the Fox sitcom New Girl, and was cast alongside Michael Sheen in the Showtime sex-ed drama, Masters of Sex. To close out her banner year, Caplan is starring in the weirdo black comedy, 3, 2, 1..Frankie Go Boom, about a guy who’s life is ruined in a Youtube video gone viral. So yeah, things are looking pretty good for an actress who until recently, was best known for her role on the cancelled cult comedy series, Party Down. But how does she feel about this deafening buzz? Let’s find out!
So, apparently this is the year of Lizzy Caplan.
Oh, well then it must be true. It’s been a pretty good year, but if I would have known it was the year of Lizzy Caplan, I would have thrown a fucking parade or something.
You still have a few months left.
I know, dammit, I really wasted it. I mean, what’s 2013 gonna be like?
What was your first reaction when you read the script for 3, 2, 1..Frankie Go Boom?
I thought it was totally strange, totally out there. Because it was such a small budget movie I knew that they were going to go for all of these jokes and not have to scale anything back, and it just seemed like a total crazy weird challenge, so I signed on.
The Bachelorette script was also wild. Which one shocked you more?
The Bachelorette thing was different because I’d seen the play and then read the feature script I guess about a year afterwards, so I’d been living with those characters a bit before I actually read the script. I mean, listen: Frankie Go Boom is like, really absurd and insane and even though Bachelorette takes things really far, I do think that it’s rooted in reality pretty firmly.
This movie takes a lot of comedic risks. Do you know if it’s funny when we’re shooting it?
I generally don’t. It’s so difficult to make that call on set. I’ve definitely been in this position before and I was certainly on this movie. This idea of like, oh, this is either going to work extremely well or it’s going to crash and burn, and I’m not entirely sure if there’s room for anything in the middle. There’s something that’s really exciting and fun about making movies like that.
You character has some intensely emotional scenes. Is that something you relish as an actor, or fear?
That was the stuff that I was most nervous about before signing on, and part of the reason why I wanted to do this movie so badly was because there was stuff that scared me.
A lot of people have been pegging you as a rising star, and this as your breakout year, but in 2006, Variety also called you an “actress to watch.” Do you pay attention to all that noise?
I do try to tune it out because they said that in like 2006? Yeah, so I think you have to take all that stuff with a grain of salt. I think not being on the cover of every tabloid magazine and people knowing everything about my personal life, that affords me the luxury of taking riskier jobs. I really like that, and so there’s a lot of that that I’d be very very sad to let go. But has my day-to-day life changed? No, I think also it’s being a little older that makes it easier, because I’m not so completely career-obsessed, like I actually see that it’s a portion of a bigger life.
Do you feel like you’ve crossed a career threshold, where you can now consider yourself a successful actress?
Well, I was pretty bitter a few years ago. I feel less bitter but I’m not entirely sure what those benchmarks are that tell you your status in the business. Are there girls who are more famous and bigger box-office guarantees? Absolutely. I don’t think I’m like, this mega-star by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that I get more opportunities than I got a few years ago, and more opportunities for the types of roles that I think I’ve been waiting to play for quite a while, so I think my age has benefitted me. I’m much more well suited for playing girls in their late 20s, early thirties than in their early 20s.
There’s been a lot of talk about a Party Down movie. When that show was cancelled, could you ever imagine people would be asking about a movie a few years later?
No, not at all. That show didn’t turn into anything until after it was cancelled. Party Down was purely a group of people who initially signed on because none of us had anything else going on, and it was the holidays, that was it. There was nothing else happening. We thought the script was funny and a bunch of them knew each other already, and we just were like, it’s ten weeks, who cares? And by the time we showed up for the second season, even though it had done nothing in terms of becoming any sort of popular show, we were all so in love with each other and so excited to do it. It was such a dream gig, so much fun every single day, which is why I think a Party Down movie will actually happen because I don’t see how they can stop it from happening. We just want to be around each other so much.