Lizzy Caplan got great pleasure in cutting off parts of her body during the filming of “Now You See Me 2.” It was so much fun that Caplan kept pushing to make each attempt a little bigger than the last.
It was all just part of playing Lula, a geek magician who by definition attempts to be shocking.
“I definitely felt like what I was doing was real during the rehearsals and that gave me more and more confidence to play the role,” Caplan says. “It did help that I wasn’t doing a live stage show and had a lot of really capable mentors to show me what to do.”
Whenever she felt like one of Lula’s tricks could be geekier, director Jon M. Chu gave her additional time in front of the camera. His main direction was to “milk it.”
Caplan didn’t want to just perfect the geek magic to shock. She knew that she was joining an established cast and it was important to her that as the new female member her character would be more than just a straightforward seductress. She wanted Lula to be as irritating and overly enthusiastic as possible.
Chu says Caplan’s gave as good as she got in fitting into the mostly male cast. She had to match them in magic and takes no prisoners in a battle of words.
“She’s dirtier than all of them put together,” Chu says in a news release for the film. “If any of them made any sort of joke, she would top them. She will go further than you think any actor can go for the joke. And she’s the sweetest, kindest person. What a great firecracker to have in this movie to freshen it up.”
Co-star Mark Ruffalo was impressed with how Caplan “hit the ground running” to become part of the team. He sarcastically adds that she could have stolen fewer scenes.
Actors will take cues from anything that helps them better play a role. In the case of Caplan, being cast as the newest member of the team was a big help in figuring out how to portray Lula.
The film brings back the majority of the cast from the original film, including the four actors who played the masterful magicians known as the Horsemen: Jesse Eisenberg, Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco. Her character takes over for Isla Fisher, who was the female member in the original 2013 release.
“I was such a massive fan of all the actors, that made it easy for me to play Lula, who was a huge fan of the Horsemen,” Caplan says.
Being part of an ensemble cast took a lot of pressure off, too. On her Showtime series “Masters of Sex,” the bulk of the work falls to her and Michael Sheen as they play sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series, which earned Caplan an Emmy Award and a Critics Choice Award for outstanding lead actress, is physically and emotionally demanding.
“It worked out that I could shoot the film during my hiatus between seasons,” Caplan says. “I laughed my entire hiatus. That was good because ‘Masters of Sex’ is very emotionally draining. On the film, we would just try to make each other laugh, and there are some spectacular laughers in this group.”
It’s tough being on such a series show as “Master of Sex,” but she has also been on 1999 series “Freaks and Geeks,” “The Pitts,” “Tru Calling,” “Related,” “True Blood” and “Party Down,” plus the films “The Night Before,” “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Cloverfield.”
When she heads to her next role, Caplan can take a few extra skills along since she had to go through magic school for the film’s big illusions. If she could have one “real” magic ability, it would have to do with how much she loves working.
“I would love the ability to sleep the amount of hours I want but without wasting my life in bed,” Caplan says.
Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1