Viola on what most appealed to her and scared her about playing the lead in a Shonda Rhimes drama (How To Get Away With Murder): There was absolutely no precedent for it. I had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualized role in TV or film. I’m a sexual woman, but nothing in my career has ever identified me as a sexualized woman. I was the prototype of the “mommified” role. Then all of a sudden, this part came, and fear would be an understatement. When I saw myself for the first time in the pilot episode, I was mortified. I saw the fake eyelashes and, “Are you kidding me? Who is going to believe this?” And then I thought: “OK, this is your moment to not typecast yourself, to play a woman who is sexualized and do your investigative work to find out who this woman is and put a real woman on TV who’s smack-dab in the midst of this pop fiction.
Maggie on a specific point in her career when she felt the bravest: I had a rape scene in The Honorable Woman where it was clearly written that she’d be saying, “No, no, please, no,” right away. But I wanted her to be complicit and wanting it; the darkest, most painful sex, right up until the point it turned into rape. I wanted her to want something she knew she shouldn’t want. I can sometimes tell when actors fought an ordinary approach to a scene, and I’m so glad they did because it tells a better story.
Lizzy on if it’s tough to do a lot of nudity on Masters of Sex: I was more afraid of doing nudity on [HBO’s] True Blood. It got easier after that, but I’m not ever 100 percent comfortable. There was a scene last season where I take my robe off, I’m naked and then transition into locked-eye [with Michael Sheen’s character], full-on masturbation from beginning to end. We have a female showrunner who considers herself a prude, so the sex scenes always move the story forward. But I remember being in my trailer before that scene and thinking for the first time since the show started: “I really don’t want to go out there and do this.”
Watch the video of the roundtable at HollywoodReporter.com. Pics below!