We asked some BGB Actors about their time working on Masters of Sex, Season 4 (premiering this Sunday 9/11 @ 10pm on SHOWTIME). What they learned, what surprised them, what they felt, what felt like home. Here’s what they had to say.
What did you learn working on Masters of Sex?
“What surprised me about my time working on MOS was I realized this was my fist time working with two different directors in the same character. Each had their own style/personality and I had artistic take-aways from both. What I continue to learn as I work is that while observing and working with actors, it’s our distinct essence and authenticity that shines, styles a character and supports story. This clearing has been a process and MOS just furthers my ‘Ah-Ha’ and more importantly, deepens my trust.”
– Toni Christopher
“I learned that 60’s hair and make-up takes roughly 3 hours to apply, and about 3 days to remove.”
“It never ceases to amaze me the amount of creative force it takes to make an hour of TV. How many craftsman must come together in a shared vision to tell a story. So I’m always a mixture of grateful and nervous arriving on set. Grateful to play a part in the storytelling and nervous to figure out how I fit into the vision.”
“The most important thing I learned on MOS is the importance of being present with your scene partner. The first scene required a lot of busy work and if I had not relaxed into just focusing on being here with Lizzy, it would have been easy to lose that connection. But luckily that did not happen.”
“Masters of Sex was my first time working on a set with a crew that had been together for numerous seasons. I was so impressed watching the cast and crew work together so efficiently. To me, everyone was so confident and pleasant in their position, be it lighting, sound or the ever-impressive Extras wrangler who somehow knew all of her Extras by name. It felt seamless and reminded me that all I needed to focus on was what I was there to do: just be present and enjoy doing the work. It was such an enjoyable day. I left with excitement and a desire to go deeper in my work. ”
How did you feel walking on set?
“I am always nervous, at least a bit, on every job. I don’t want that to go away. It is frustrating, the fact that as a guest star, pretty much every day is the first day of school. I look forward to the comfort, the comfortableness of a long run on a gig. But I embrace the nervousness and look at as being present and alive, harnessing the energy and not letting it take over.”
“I’m always excited to walk on set because it just feels good to be going to WORK doing what you LOVE for the day! But from the first moment I stepped on the set for “Masters of Sex,” that excitement didn’t let up. The attention to detail and the beautiful 1960’s world they’ve created was so impressive.”
“I was excited to play. Everyone was so welcoming and generous that I felt right at home. Not to mention that the set and all of us in wardrobe looked amazing.”
“Walking onto the set for Masters of Sex that first day, I felt extremely humbled and excited. It was an opportunity that arose very unexpectedly. And I was so grateful for the trust that was imparted on ability. I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to living in LA.”
What surprised you walking onto the set and during your time working?
“I think I was most surprised at the kindness and graciousness of every single cast and crew member I got to meet. Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy the work they did and they treated everyone around them with professionalism and respect. It was a truly lovely crew to watch work.”
“I was surprised by the overall kindness and generosity of everyone I worked with, from wardrobe, to hair and makeup to the director and the cast – everyone was so lovely, supportive and friendly. ”
“I was reminded of how hard everyone works. Most of the cast and crew got there before me and were staying long after I headed home. And they are doing it day after day, for months and months. I have worked with three different directors on MOS. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much nuanced input all three directors gave me on set, between takes. When you watch the show, you are thinking about the people and stories. Walking onto the soundstage you see the whole universe in one big room. There’s the office, there’s her house, there’s his house, there are the sets, just for that episode. You forget that it is not all on location. It reminds you of how the acting and stories really bring the settings to life.”
-John Gleeson Connolly
“The biggest surprise for me was on the final day of shooting, I went back to set early to work on the busy work for the bartending scene while no one was there and if I hadn’t taken that time to work through those actions it could have really taken me out of the scene. I was surprised at the amount of repetition needed to iron that first sequence out in the bartending scene.”
“The 3 camera set-up allowed coverage to be gotten quickly. That was cool! In a scene with lots of extras and a lot going on it was a cool way to shoot.”
What did you see and learn from working with and observing the other actors, primarily the series regulars or recurring actors with whom you worked?
“Caitlin Fitzgerald was warm and friendly and when I heard “action” I looked into her eyes and she was completely present and put any anxiety I had to rest. If she needed something or had a question, she stayed grounded and genuine.”
-Andrea Gwynnel Morgan
“I spent quite a bit of my time on set with Annaleigh Ashford, who was in the scene I was in. She was so kind, generous, and funny, and she really embodied so much about what I hope I always remember to be on any set I have the privilege to be on. She never gave any less of her performance even when it wasn’t her coverage, and she respected everyone’s time and hard work. It made me so happy to see a series regular, who has been on a successful show for several years now, still approach every moment of her job as an opportunity to play and share.”
“It was such an amazing experience to watch Michael work. He is such a professional. His interactions with the director were incredible and really let me see a collaboration and negotiation that you don’t always see on set.”
“All of the regulars I saw work were incredible and gave honest and real performances. They were prepared and able to very quickly and naturally deliver what was necessary. I observed in Michael particularly, precision. He knew exactly where he wanted to be and why it was important to be there. There was a real sense of purpose and precision in his work.”
“In my scene with Lizzy Caplan, I watched her go from rehearsal to shooting… and being the absolute pro that she is, she was not only able to memorize her lines in time, but also perform them impeccably. She ran through the scene several times in rehearsal, took the director’s notes as she went, even suggested some of her own—and by the time cameras were rolling, she was not only ready to go—she was exceptional!”
What felt foreign? What felt like home?
“Every new gig feels a little foreign, it’s not my home etc. But what always feels like home is my knowing myself as an artist and my constant inherent feeling of belonging. I think nurturing your artistic self outside of “work”, at The BGB Studio, at home, in life insures this, or at least makes it more likely.”
“I think the hair and wardrobe felt foreign to me for obvious reasons. But once I got to get into the world and play with the other actors, I felt very much at home.”
“Stepping into the environment for the first time and looking at the detail within the set (which was a Catholic school classroom), was new. And then for myself, just picking one item and personalizing it for myself so that the space became MY classroom. Which I know can sound like a silly actor thing, but for me is very helpful when I am stepping on to a set I’ve never seen before. What felt like home? Those moments between “ACTION” and “CUT” Doing the work- that’s ALWAYS when I feel at home. Now, if only I can make myself feel that way about auditions!”
“Nothing really felt foreign. The ease with which cast and especially the crew, were willing to embrace and support me, created a great vibe and helped me feel good about the work. I felt at home!”
-John Gleeson Connolly
What’s your take-away?
“Always bring your best self to the work to collaborate with other like-minded artists and together extraordinary things are possible and likely.”
-Andrea Gwynnel Morgan
“My take-away was that I was thrilled to contribute to such a great show with such a kind and brilliant show-runner. It is an extra-special experience getting cast on something that you are a huge fan of already. But quite frankly, being so strongly supported by the casting office during the audition process (and all other auditions leading up to this episode) as well as the table-read kind of overshadowed the actual day of work.”
“All in all, I think the show is certainly one that is blessed with wonderful creative people, in addition to the amazing story it tells. I feel fortunate to have gotten to be a small part of that whole.”
“I had a blast playing Hef and I think it was contagious. Everybody seemed to get in on the fun. I hope it all comes through in the final product. What an opportunity!”
-John Gleeson Connolly
“The takeaway from this experience is what I have been able to practice more and more with my work at BGB and that is to always trust yourself and your intuition once within the scene. We are tuned to notice people’s feelings and changes of emotion and if you base your work on that, you will always be truthful.”
Join the party! Masters of Sex on SHOWTIME . If you don’t swing, don’t ring!