Who knew science could be sexy? Answer: William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The work that these real-life researchers did in the field of human sexuality helped kick off the sexual revolution — and made them celebrities. Masters of Sex chronicles the duo, portrayed by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, as they investigate the science behind getting it on. We talked to Sheen (Frost/Nixon) about having Sex on Showtime.
This is your first time as a series regular on TV. What was it about Sex that appealed to you?
I was doing Hamlet in London when I read the pilot — it was so intriguing. It hooks you in and makes one feel as if there’s the possibility for a long journey. And it films in Los Angeles, which is where I live and where my daughter is. [Laughs]
Sex as a science is certainly an interesting subject to delve into.
It’s so interesting. Even though the series is set in the late ’50s/early ’60s and dealing with something that was at the time taboo, in some ways we haven’t moved that far along. There are areas that are still very hard to talk about.
The work of Masters and Johnson got pretty racy.
They actually had people have sex in front of them and monitored them. They had women bringing themselves to climax with a glass dildo, with a light inside it so they can see.
It’s a good thing this is on cable so you don’t have to hold back.
[Laughs] There is certainly no holding back, from what I’ve seen. If you are doing a show about this subject, you can’t be too genteel about it.
If you’re running the experiments, does that mean you don’t have to get naked?
Weeellll…. [Laughs] We shall see.