Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scene Stealer: Lizzy Caplan

 Lizzy Caplan is probably best known for playing sarcastic best friend roles.  Her break out performance was as Janis Ian in the teen satire Mean Girls.  Janis is easily the best thing about that movie with her mean but funny comments on the general stupidity of high school life.  Anyone who felt like an outcast in high school will relate to her character.  On the HBO series True Blood she played Amy Burley, Jason Stackhouse's V (vampire blood drug) addicted girl friend.  Amy was a ruthless and fairly unlikable character who corrupted the semi-moral but stupid Jason into kidnapping a vampire to get his blood. Caplan's performance as Amy was an interesting departure from Janis Ian.  Amy is a bohemian and pseudo-intellectual, she's selfish and manipulative and yet you can kind of understand why Jason falls for her in the first place.

My favorite role of her's is Casey Klein from the brilliant but canceled Party Down.  Casey is an aspiring comedian working temporarily as a catering waitress.  Casey has a lot of flaws, she's insecure, a disrespectful employee (always taking personal calls while working), and she can be insensitive (like when she leaves Henry to take a job as a comedian on a cruise ship).  But she's also funny, smart and the only person who encourages and believes in Henry's acting career.  Henry and Casey are one of my favorite TV couples.

Lizzy Caplan is frequently compared to manic pixie dream girl extraordinaire Zooey Deschanel.  Both actresses have similarly husky voices, frequently play sardonic characters, and are masters of the side eye.  However, I think Lizzy more consistently chooses believable and complex characters. 

Check out Lizzy in one of the DVDs we have at the library:

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010).
Probably the closest Caplan has come to playing a manic pixie dream girl.  She's the girl John Cusack's character notices the second time he relives his 80s ski weekend.  It's easy to see why the older and more mature Cusack would fall for her instead of his pretty but vapid girlfriend.
Find it in the catalog!

Party Down (2009-2010).
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True Blood (2008).
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Cloverfield (2008). 
Caplan plays Marlena Diamond, who in her typical fashion is a sarcastic outsider.  However, when she and her friends get chased by the Cloverfield monster, Marlena is surprisingly heroic.
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Mean Girls (2004).
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Freaks and Geeks (1999). 
Here she plays Sarah, a disco enthusiast who dates Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel) after his mega crush Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) dumps him.  Probably one of my favorite TV shows ever and a great place to see all of the Judd Apatow regulars before they were a big deal.
Find it in the catalog!