Exclusive Interview: Caitlin FitzGerald on ‘Masters of Sex’

Caitlin FitzGerald

When I requested my interviews for Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” I put in for Michael Sheen and Lizzie Caplan, obviously. I got Michael. I also noticed there was an actress playing a character with the last name Masters also.

Caitlin FitzGerald plays Libby Masters, wife of sex researcher William Masters (Sheen). As we’ve already seen in the first few episodes, the Masters marriage is sketchy. He is infertile but letting Libby think she is barren and that their sex life is nothing worth studying. I spoke with FitzGerald before the “Masters of Sex” panel at the Television Critics Association, and she got things started right away. 


Caitlin FitzGerald: So, let’s talk about sex.

CraveOnline: Is that how you’ve started every interview?

No, that just came to me. Inspired moment.

You’re playing Masters’ wife, so is their marriage going to be threatened by the research he’s doing?

Definitely. I think my character signed up to be the wife of a famous fertility doctor, not a scandalous sex researcher. So she struggles with it.

Masters seems to think he can keep it purely scientific. Does your character and do you believe anyone can really do that?

I would say that I stand with my character in saying that’s not possible. I think there are people in the world who can have sex without it being emotional for sure, but I also think just trying to make it a clinical thing is not possible.

Even watching and studying sex, even if he’s not the one having it.

Totally. I don’t know how you can be unaffected by that in some way. 

It seems people today still think they can be. Do you wonder how far we have come since Masters and Johnson and how far we haven’t?

Yeah, I thought about this a lot when we were shooting because so much of what they discovered, and the questions they were asking, I still feel like they haven’t been totally incorporated into our culture and we’re still really hung up about sex in a lot of ways. We have in some ways a very hypersexualized culture and then also all these taboos and repressions and issues. 

Exactly. As much as a graphic show like “Masters of Sex” can be on cable, in some ways we’re as prudish as ever.

Totally. Even though there’s all this free porn online or whatever, that’s not the same thing as intimacy or being able to verbalize what you need with a partner. It’s not the same thing as really being in touch with your sexuality I guess. 

This surprised me. Could you imagine how revolutionary the idea of a fake orgasm was in 1956?

Yeah. Well, the female orgasm in general was a whole landscape that they discovered. Freud had said there’s a mature female orgasm and then there’s an immature one. They debunked all of that. They discovered a lot of things.

I just took it for granted I grew up knowing what a fake orgasm was before I even knew what a real orgasm was.

[Laughs] I think it’s interesting how a whole generation could’ve grown up seeing it on TV and seeing things. I wonder how many people can actually identify a real female orgasm. 

Is Libby in the show based very closely on the real Libby Masters?

I would say of all the characters, they may have taken the most liberty with mine. There is a lot that is factual about my character. My character had a really tragic background. That’s on the show. 

We haven’t seen that yet though, right?

No, it comes out later in the season. 

What sort of things do you get to play when that’s revealed?

My character does not have an easy time with it in season one.

Was she really struggling with fertility in real life?

They did struggle with fertility. It’s true that it was his fault and not her fault and that she had been led to believe that it was her fault. He had lied to her, and the went through these treatments. She was eventually able to have a kid. 

One thing I marveled at was a scene where you were getting ready for bed, and I realized how I’d totally taken for granted that I’m watching people get ready for bed. What time of day did you shoot that scene?

Who knows? It could’ve been midnight and it could’ve been six in the morning. 

I doubt it was actually midnight. I hope you’d be wrapped by then.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on the schedule of the week, but yeah, my house was a set on a stage.