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Lizzy Caplan Has A Bag Of Tricks In Her Arsenal & They Aren't All Magic

Photo: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock.
Lizzy Caplan is happy to humblebrag about the skills she picked up on the set of Now You See Me 2, in which she plays a magician who helps save the world from an evil tech genius. She's especially proud of the sleight-of-hand move in which she makes a card disappear. "Just imagine the best hiding-a-card trick that you’ve ever seen," the 33-year-old actress tells me. "That’s close to what it is.”

We'll just have to take her word for it, since she doesn't carry a deck of cards on her person. No matter, though. Card tricks or no card tricks, Caplan's ability to infuse every role with her trademark dark humour is its own type of magic. We spoke to her about her new movie (in theatres July 4), the illusions she performs on a daily basis, and the tricks she's still trying to master.

When you were researching for this role, did you track down any female magicians?
"I tried! There are so few of them: Not only are their numbers small, but the vast majority of them have to incorporate this overly sexualised thing, which is really strange. So they’re in particularly skimpy outfits and they have, like, sex-themed magic shows. I saw this one girl — she’s the snake babe and she just has snakes, and she’s kind of seductive with the snake. It’s really pretty obvious that the imagery is on the nose.

"I watched her do, like, a podcast: They asked her what her snake was named, and the snake's name was 'fellatio.' I was like, ‘Come on, girl!’ More power to her, but also there’s got to be something else. You don’t have to be this sex kitten to be a magician... It was a little ridiculous.”

What's a magic trick you do every day that no one knows about?
"Girls in general do a lot of magic tricks — what we wake up looking like and what we walk out the door looking like is a bit of a magic trick, one that I oftentimes resent. In fact normally — not normally, but not as often as I’d like — I kind of skip that whole magic trick."

What's a trick you wish you could pull off every day?
"So many of them — any of that, like, old-school Houdini stuff, like getting out of shackles, tight situations. I think that would be kind of cool. One of our magicians [from Now You See Me 2] is amazing. He would come to set after a weekend of working. We’d ask what he was doing, and he was just like, ‘Oh, I was just suspended by my ankles on a crane 100 feet in the air. But I wrapped Saran Wrap really tightly around my face and I tied myself up and I have to somehow get out of the ropes and then take the Saran Wrap off before I suffocate and I’m hanging upside down.' That kind of stuff... I don’t know why girls don’t do that.”
I was thinking that, actually, while watching this movie — that women seem like they would be preternaturally better at magic because we are constantly doing a million things and trying to pretend that we’re not.
"I think that’s totally right. If you dig a little into why there aren’t [many] female magicians, it’s interesting: Most people get their start when they’re really young — like, they’re given a magic kit when they’re 8 years old or something — but it’s primarily, and they would say this too, socially awkward kids who are locked in their rooms. [Adults] think this is something that will help them adjust to the world, [and kids] get really into it.

"Girls, after a certain age, like 12 or 13, they fall off. It’s unexplainable. You can look back into deep history when it’s like, if you did anything like [magic] way back in the day, you would be burned at the stake. I think a lot of things — comedy as well [as magic] for women — we haven’t been given the opportunity to do it, and we haven’t been rewarded in the same way men have over the course of time."

Speaking of women in comedy: Is there anything featuring women on the film front that you're looking forward to this summer?
"Hopefully Ghostbusters is good — I think that there’s not a chance that it won’t be good, because that cast is amazing and Paul Feig is amazing. So I have very very high hopes for that. What other girl blockbusters are there?”

Bad Mums
is happening.
"Oh yeah, with Mila Kunis. I bet that’s funny — she’s funny, and Kristen Bell and Katherine Hahn, all very funny girls. I would think that that will be great... I hope so, because, you know, if it doesn’t work, then women can’t be funny and they won’t make a movie like that for the next eight years."
Do you feel like that "women can't be funny" narrative is shifting?
"The conversation is definitely changing. People are more willing to consider the possibility that women are funny... So, yeah it is slightly better. But it’s nowhere near as good as it should be, and the stakes are still so high for female movies. Like: If those movies that we talked about don’t work, it will be felt [by women] in the industry."

Do you ever personally feel like you're being pigeonholed into certain types of parts?
"It’s really frustrating. I haven’t done enough comedies recently — I’m doing more dramatic stuff. But I guess the one silver lining is that: Roles for women in television are still really good. For women in comedy, I think TV has always been a better place. Dramas as well, it just seems like if you want interesting, character-driven pieces, chances are you’re going to find it on TV before you find it in the movies. Ugh. It sucks.”

Anything on TV that you're obsessively recommending to people?
"I really loved the show Love. I loved Gillian [Jacobs] in that — I thought she was amazing. I thought it was not only an interesting female character, but I thought Paul Rust's character was really fascinating too."

Speaking of TV, any chance we're ever going to be gifted with a new season of Party Down?
"I don’t know. I don’t know!”

I had to ask.
"I know. I wish the answer was anything other than ‘I don’t know.'"

Now You See Me 2 is out on Monday 4th July