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Sex scenes and nudity, unsurprisingly, figured prominently during Tuesday’s Television Critics Association panel for Showtime’s upcoming drama Masters of Sex.
Based on the life and work of late sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the series tackles the subject head on — with ample nudity for most onscreen. It’s that frequency, perhaps, that prompted most of those actors in attendance to seem pretty casual about the process.
“I never thought I would get so used to a naked woman in front of me masturbating with a glass dildo,” said star Michael Sheen, to many laughs. “I think the tone of the show is important. … For so much sexuality on display in the piece, it has to be absolutely believable.”
Sheen also emphasized how the cast, both regulars and guest stars, have been working especially close with the directors to make sure that everyone is always comfortable. The Johnson to his Masters, Lizzy Caplan noted that the series’ more clinical sex scenes were the tough ones and made her feel much more at ease with the typical TV love scene.
The woman behind Caplan’s character died at 88 years old just a week before the group gathered in front of reporters — and though they had access to many details of her life, no one involved with the series ever met Johnson.
“She was in touch with [producer] Tom Maier,” creator Michelle Ashford said of the author of the series’ source material. “They were very close. 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.”
They did lament never having the chance to get her opinion of Masters of Sex.
“She wanted to live out the last few years of her life not in the limelight,” said Caplan. “But I think we all held out hope that after the show premiered, she would want to see it.”
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