Michael Sheen on Nudity on 'Masters of Sex': I Never Thought I Would Get Used to It
Nudity and sex scenes are inevitably going to be prominent on Showtime's "Masters of Sex". At the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday, July 30, the cast talked about how they got comfortable doing it on the upcoming show.
"After a while of seeing so many people so naked in front of you, you inevitably just get used to it," said Michael Sheen, who plays the late Dr. William Masters. "I never thought I would get so used to a naked woman in front of me, masturbating with a glass dildo."
Believing that "the tone of the show is important," and "for so much sexuality on display in the piece, it has to be absolutely believable," he shared, "My experience of working on this show, even though it's so much about sex and sexuality,... is that I found I started talking about relationships and emotions and difficulties and challenges."
"I became far more open about that, which is probably an indication of the show itself. The more you think you're watching a show about sex, the more (it's) ultimately about the challenges of connecting with a human being, of being intimate."
Lizzy Caplan, who stars as Masters' partner and eventual wife Virginia Johnson, added that they found something funny out of the racy acts. "We're not really going for a joke. I mean, if you put a dildo in front of Beau Bridges' face, people are gonna laugh," she said.
"But the actual work that was done by the real people does a lot of that work for us. Inherently, some of the situations that are depicted on the show were ridiculous, but they were factually accurate ... We're not trying to pull a bunch of jokes or anything, but there are definitely moments of levity in this show."
Sheen went on stressing that "the utmost important thing is that everyone needs to feel comfortable and safe" on the set to film the sex scenes. He explained, "If there's any gray area, that's gonna be a problem. So we knew very early on that you have to be very, very clear that directors have to speak to actors ... We want people to keep coming into this show and taking those risks ... not just nudity, but emotional risks, subject matter, what we're investing in it."
Just last week, Johnson, one of the researchers who inspired the show, passed away at the age of 88. "She was in touch with Tom Maier ['Masters of Sex' book author]," creator Michelle Ashford said. "We heard everything about her from him... he spent 10,000 hours with Virginia Johnson and was an invaluable resource... We wanted to respect her privacy in her later years."
No one involved in the series had a chance to see Johnson in person. "She wanted to live out the last few years of her life not in the limelight," Caplan told reporters, "but I think we all held out hope that after the show premiered, she would want to see it."
"Masters of Sex", based on Tom Maier's biography, chronicles the unusual lives, romance, and pop culture trajectory of Masters and Johnson. It will premiere Sunday September 29 at 10 P.M.
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