Lizzy Caplan Dishes On Inside Job And Her Character’s Future – Exclusive Interview
Anyone who grew up in the ’90s and early ’00s may know Lizzy Caplan best for her portrayal of our favorite emo Janice Ian in “Mean Girls.” Now, she’s taking her penchant for dry wit to animation as Reagan Ridley in Netflix’s new series “Inside Job.”
Yet before Caplan headed to Cognito as Reagan to shield the world from the very real conspiracies that her slightly evil cabal tries to hide, she amassed a slew of live-action credits. Kicking off her career as Sara on the cult favorite series “Freaks and Geeks,” Caplan went on to win guest spots on “Smallville,” “True Blood,” “American Dad!,” and “New Girl.” Her resume also includes long stints as Virginia Johnson on “Masters of Sex” and Annie Wilkes in “Castle Rock.” She’s also landed a number of film roles, including Marlena in “Cloverfield,” Lula in “Now You See Me 2,” and April in “Hot Tub Time Machine” — the latter of which saw her working alongside her future “Inside Job” co-star Clark Duke.
During an exclusive interview, Looper spoke to Lizzie Caplan and discussed her character arc on “Inside Job.” She also revealed what it was like working with Clark Duke again and dished on some of her favorite conspiracies from the show.
Animation meets lizard people
This show tackles a whole lot of conspiracy theory angles. Do you have a particular favorite?
On the show, yes. I would say my favorite thus far would be the lizard people episode. It’s an old-school favorite of mine, thinking that the world is run by lizards.
I love that Reagan and Randy are on opposite parallel journeys. As Reagan gets a little bit more grounded episode by episode, Randy gets a little bit more chaotic and unhinged. What was it like working with Christian Slater on that, since you had to voice your parts separately? Did you get on calls or talk at all about your respective journeys?
Full disclosure, twice. First, you’ve seen more episodes than I have, so that’s exciting. That’s definitely what we were going for. I’m glad to hear that it succeeded, that it did that.
Full disclosure number two, I’ve never met Christian. So we’ve been doing this all remotely, and it’s wild to watch the episodes and see how seamlessly it turned out. And I don’t see how it would sound any different if we were in a room together. And if anything, it just makes me really, really excited to be on the other side of all these COVID restrictions and get to be in the same room together.
So much for Avril Lavigne's happy ending
How difficult was that, just acting with yourself?
I’m sure it was infinitely more difficult for Shion [Takeuchi] and the producers and everybody cutting it together — they had the hard job. Just they had to have it all in their heads all the time and the end result we were all shooting for, and I just needed to show up and attempt to give them what they wanted.
“Inside Job” has a lot of celebrity parodies. Between making A-listers lizard people and members of the Illuminati, which celebrity parody arc was your favorite?
I was just reminded of this, and yes, I would say that the Avril Lavigne being dead thing. I did forget about that, that was the thing.
Your dark comedy characters are some of my favorites, between Janice in “Mean Girls” and Sheila in “High Road.” What draws you to these roles, and did any of your previous roles help inspire any character traits or approaches to Reagan?
I guess I am drawn to darker roles, but it’s probably that they’re also perhaps drawn a bit to me. If you just do a couple of those, I think it probably set me on a path of seeking them out and also being presented with more roles like that. Yeah, I think Reagan would get along quite well with a few of the other characters that I played. And yeah, I think Reagan’s inability to regulate her own emotions is a very freeing character to get to play. And I think it would be different to play her in a live-action setting, it would also be fun to see what that looks like.
Back to the '80s
The series has a number of thematic episodes, between the ’80s town and the James Bond spoof. Which was the most exciting to work on, and were there any that particularly challenged you?
I’m really excited to see the ’80s one. I have yet to watch that episode, but I loved that episode on the page. I mean, I don’t know what actually ended up making it in there, but there’s something little sad about Brett Hand’s journey in that episode. And I just, I’m excited to see it because I think everything that Clark [Duke] is doing with Brett is hilarious. So there’s that, and then the episode, the last one, I believe, where they go back into Reagan’s memories in her past. I think that’s the last one. I’m dying to see that one and to see how it ended up because it’s another one that had moments of real dark sadness to it.
Speaking of Clark Duke, you worked with him on “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Did you get to work with him at all on this, or was that all again just totally virtual?
We were at table reads together for this. So yes, more so than with Christian, in the very, very early days. Yeah. And Clark’s just one of those guys that I’ve known forever. It’s great to get to work with him. Even though I never am in the same room as any of these people, but our souls are connected.
Reagan meets Janice?
Given that “Inside Job” parodies so many classic films and characters, how would you feel about the show doing a “Mean Girls”-esque parody, where the gang has to infiltrate a high school? Maybe Regina George was a lizard person after all.
I mean, write the spec script. Send it our way.
What are some of Reagan’s character traits that you’d like to explore in a possible Season 2?
I think one of the things that’s exciting about this kind of animated show is that you have a conspiracy theory of the week, but you also have this story arc that spans the whole thing. And Reagan is definitely learning things about herself and growing as a human being, and getting to track that journey is really exciting. I hope she doesn’t figure out all of her issues too quickly, because her issues are very fun to voice.
But you can tell that she’s got some stuff that she’s figuring out right now. And yeah, I think the more episodes we get to make, the more we’ll get to flesh her out at as a character. And I have no idea if the show were to go many, many seasons who she would end up being, but I would be very excited to see who that is.
Animation isn't easy, folks
Is there another character in the series that you’d like to explore more with your character?
I think all of the office characters are fantastic, and our voice cast is amazing — some of the funniest people around. I love the relationship with Brett, between Brett and Reagan. I think it’s adorable. It’s obviously, anytime you want to explore daddy issues, I’m down for that. I guess everybody — every single person in the show, creature or person — I would be super down to do a deep dive with.
A lot of your projects have been live-action. What made you excited about taking on a lead voice acting role, and what have been the biggest challenges with that?
I genuinely thought when I signed on that doing an animated show is just something really easy and quick. It was neither easy nor quick. And I have a new respect for the medium, because it’s a lot of time-consuming work for a lot of people. And I don’t know why I thought, maybe I had just read too many interviews with people on “The Simpsons” that they work 20 minutes every week or something. I was like, “Oh, that sounds fun. I can work 20 minutes every week.”
And no, it’s a grind in the best possible way. I feel like this was trial by fire for me, and I learned so much, and I have so much respect for people who primarily do voiceover acting. It’s a really impressive skill set that I feel like I’m still very much a novice at.
Is it something you’d like to do more of?
For sure — especially if there is that version of it where it’s 20 minutes a week.
Which of your former co-stars would you love to see on the show, and what kind of role do you think they could have?
Any of them, any of them. I think that’s one of the great things about doing a voiceover thing. People can pop in and play some bonkers version, either of themselves or of just a complete departure of themselves as a human. I can’t even pinpoint just one, literally anybody. I think it would be so fun to have them on this show acting wild.
Have you reached out to anybody yet?
No, I haven’t. But I guess if and when we could go ten seasons, I’ll ask everybody to come and be on it.
Without giving too much away, where do you see Reagan’s character arc going in a possible Season 2, and what will be her biggest hurdles?
There is a part two, but yeah, it’ll be her trying to grapple with this inner war that she has, where she is fighting against her own character defects while also trying to make the world a better place — and playing both sides of the shadow government and looking out for her fellow man, which can’t be easy. That’s not an easy line to straddle.
Especially when you’re in her line of work.
Ditching the partners to lovers trope (maybe)
Do you think there’s any possible chance of a romance between Reagan or Brett, or do you see them more as friends?
I hope not. I don’t think they need to have a romance. I think their friendship is really sweet, and that would be my vote.
I love the show’s idea of a memory wipe being used to forget the ending of a show, movie, or book to relive it again. Is there a project that either you worked on or something that you’re a fan of that you’d love to forget so you could relive it again?
Totally. I mean, all the great … I mean, I re-watched most of “The Sopranos” during the pandemic, and it had been so long that it felt like my memory had been wiped, and I was experiencing it for the first time. And that was a really good experience.
I get jealous of people who haven’t seen “Breaking Bad” or “Succession.” Anybody who hasn’t started “Succession” yet, I’m jealous they get to experience it for the first time. I’m jealous of people who haven’t seen “White Lotus” yet.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of this journey for you?
Seeing the finished result and seeing what all of these recording sessions and all of these months had been building towards, I can’t imagine what it was like for the people that were involved in every aspect of it from the beginning. But it’s so rewarding to see something that takes so much time to craft and create come together so well, not just work, but I think work really well. Again, I’m not a huge animation junkie in any way, and I truly believe that I would watch this show happily. And that doesn’t always happen for me.
The absurdity of conspiracy theories
This is such a timely show. Why do you think that this is so important for audiences to view now?
I mean, maybe, maybe it’s possible for a show like this to remind people that conspiracy theories, most of the time, if not all of the time, are a bit ridiculous. And maybe we should take a step back and remember that every once in a while.
What do you think fans of your varied catalog of work will get out of it, and why should they tune in?
[Jokingly] I think that they will really enjoy getting to only listen to the dulcet tones of my voice. And then, when they tune back into a live-action thing, they’ll be reminded of how much they missed my face. Dear God, I hope that translates in print.
What are you most excited for fans to see? Is there a moment or a scene that really stood out to you?
I think I’m very excited for people to get to know this character. I haven’t seen a character like this in many animated shows, or really in other shows, live-action as well. I think that she’s somebody that a lot of people will be able to relate to because she’s not just one thing. She’s kind of struggling with how she sees herself versus how she wants the person she wants to be out in the world. And I think that’s a universal thing that a lot of people will identify with.
Fans can watch the first ten episodes of “Inside Job” on Netflix now.