As you no doubt will infer from the title, there is a whole lot of getting it on in Showtime's new series "Masters of Sex."
But lest you think it's just Hollywood gratuitousness, the series is based on the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters (played by Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (the captivating Lizzy Caplan), and the sex scenes in the 1950s-era drama aren't always particularly sexy.
Most of the action takes place in a teaching hospital in the Midwest, where William, a scientist, works alongside Virginia, a singer-turned-secretary assisting him in his groundbreaking research about intimate relations. Though viewers quickly see that it's far more academic and clinical than lurid and lusty, the premiere offers a little of both.
For the actors, there is a lot of nudity. Teddy Sears, whose character, Dr. Austin Langham, is one of the first volunteers for Masters's sex study, jumps right in, appearing naked for a sex scene in the first episode.
"There is really nothing to do to prepare, except you shrug your shoulders and say, 'Whelp, here we go!'" the 33-year-old, who appeared on TNT's "Raising the Bar," told Yahoo TV at the show's New York City premiere on Thursday when asked about his sex-scene prep. "It's a very trusting, very wonderful atmosphere. And we just want to tell the story as it happened in 1956, in all its sort of awkwardness and truth."
Nicholas D'Agosto, who plays young resident Ethan Haas (who also strips down in the first episode), said the audition process was unlike any other he'd experienced because one scene involved his, um, going downtown on a woman. Again, this was before he even had the role!
"I stood in front of a bunch of executives and imagined someone's [open] legs right here," the 33-year-old "Heroes" alum said, motioning close to his face. "That's sort of what you're doing for them. So in that sense, the audition was very different from anything else I had ever done," he laughed.
"However," D'Agosto continued, "it's really not just about sex every episode. It is about lots of very interesting characters — and there's also sex."
The relationships are complex ones, especially for the protagonist Masters, who, as portrayed by Sheen, is a serious fellow who seems to never be without a bow tie or clipboard and maintains a very businesslike attitude both at work and at home.
[Related: How to Dress the 'Masters of Sex']
Caitlin FitzGerald plays his wife, Libby Masters, who — despite her husband's sexpertise — hasn't been able to conceive. They have an unusual relationship, which is immediately clear when she is first introduced and you hear her call him "Daddy."
"Oh, it's superweird," laughed the 30-year-old, when we asked about her character's pet name for her hubby. "It was uncomfortable to say, and I'm sure it's uncomfortable for people to hear. I think it's actually such a perfect thing for her to call him, though. It sort of sums up their relationship in a lot of ways."
Speaking of uncomfortable, so are some of FitzGerald's costume changes. The show's '50s setting gives it a real "Mad Men"-type vibe, complete with beautiful fashion. The actress has had to embrace the dreaded girdle, which the series' costume designer, Ane Crabtree, recently said "whittles the waists" of the actresses wearing them within just a few months of regular use.
"It actually helps me get into character," FitzGerald, who has appeared on "Gossip Girl" and "How to Make It in America," said of putting on the beastly undergarment. "It takes me the longest to get ready each day because they set my hair in curlers. I'm at least two hours in hair and makeup and another hour getting dressed. By the time I come out, I feel like I've gone back in time. It's kind of amazing."
[Related: How Lizzy Caplan 'Master'ed Her Career]
D'Agosto also loves working on the period drama, but he revealed a behind-the-scenes challenge he faced while filming. The beautiful old car he's seen driving in with Virginia in the first episode is extremely difficult to maneuver.
"Oh, the old cars are great," he said. "But one of the worst things is trying to turn in an old car. The steering is terrible. There's no power steering, and it's incredibly heavy. Trying to make a three-point turn in that son of a b---h is impossible," he laughed.
"But the suits are amazing," he continued. "I'm dressed in such fantastic suits the whole time. The sets are gorgeous. You literally walk into this beautiful world. So it's mostly all upside."
See for yourself this Sunday when "Masters of Sex" premieres at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
Watch a preview:
- Arts & Entertainment
- William Masters
- Lizzy Caplan
- Michael Sheen