The Stunning Transformation Of Lizzy Caplan

It's safe to say that life has never been boring for Lizzy Caplan. The Los Angeles native, whose acting career spans decades, has been known to take on just about any genre and flourish in it. By now, it's become apparent that Caplan is a standout performer, which might explain the two Emmy acting nods (for two incredibly different performances, of course) that she has received so far. The actress has also made it clear that she's just getting started.

With fans eagerly awaiting what Caplan will do next, it's the perfect time to look back at the actor's meteoric rise to fame, from a young teen star playing supporting and minor characters to an onscreen lead who has delivered several critically acclaimed performances over the years. And as Caplan grew up onscreen, those around her got to witness the Hollywood star fall in love, settle down, and start a family.

Lizzy Caplan grew up in a Jewish household playing the piano

Lizzy Caplan was raised in a Jewish (Reform Jewish, to be exact) family that also loves music, so much so that she grew up playing the piano. Later on, Caplan even ended up attending Alexander Hamilton High School's Academy of Music and Performing Arts. At some point, however, she also realized that she had no interest in pursuing music professionally. "I didn't have the discipline nor the drive and in 10th or 11th grade, I decided that I didn't want to play the piano anymore because I wasn't as motivated anymore doing it and it wasn't going to lead to anything," the actress once told The Untitled Magazine.

However, Caplan still wanted to remain in her school's music program — so she had to pick another performing art as her elective. It was at this point that she randomly decided to try drama. Years later, she would become one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

She lost her mother at 13

Around this time, tragedy also struck the Caplan family when her mother died from cancer. As she grieved, Lizzy Caplan also realized that she seriously wanted to pursue acting. "Strangely, from that age on I thought the only reason why I could even attempt to be an actress was because this horrible thing happened to me," she once told Rolling Stone. "Like something dark and terrible had to happen in order to earn your stripes as a human being and be able to be an actress. I don't know where I got that from."

In the years that followed, Caplan would also come to realize how challenging acting could be as a profession. While speaking to Backstage, she opened up about the constant rejections and uncertainty that actors and actresses who are just starting out often deal with. That being said, Caplan also admitted that the experience can help one develop better resilience.

Lizzy Caplan landed her first role at age 15

As Lizzy Caplan auditioned for acting roles, she went through a period of just trying out for anything. She also ended up working on a lot of pilots, but they all went nowhere. And then, the high school dramedy "Freaks and Geeks" came along, the very same show that boasts a cast of future Hollywood stars like Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Busy Philipps, and Jason Segel.

On the show, Caplan appeared as a high school girl named Sara. Caplan's character was only supposed to appear once, but showrunners Judd Apatow and Paul Feig saw something special in Caplan. "There was something unique about her performance," Apatow told Rolling Stone. And so, they ended up asking her to return a few more times. In the end, they also decided that Caplan's Sara would become Segel's character Nick's love interest after his breakup with Lindsay (played by Cardellini). "She was amazing as his rebound romance," Apatow added.

Not long after, she landed a memorable guest role in Smallville

After her stint on "Freaks and Geeks," Caplan soon booked a guest role in the superhero drama "Smallville." On the show, the actress played Tina Greer, the metahuman who develops an obsession with Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). Though the character only appears in a couple of episodes (once in Seasons 1 and 2), that was enough time for Tina to wreak havoc in Smallville. In her final appearance, Tina ends up in a physical confrontation with Clark (Tom Welling) after trying to trick Lana into thinking that she was Clark. As they fight, Tina ends up impaling herself, putting an end to Caplan's time on the show.

As brief as her time on "Smallville" was, Caplan revealed that the experience came with several firsts. "That was my first job I ever did that was not in Los Angeles. So it was the first time I flew business class, the first time I stayed in a hotel suite, the first time I ordered room service, and it just felt like a really huge moment of arrival," the actress told The A.V. Club.

At 22, the actor scored her first major film role, but it came at a cost

While in her early 20s, Lizzy Caplan joined the iconic cast of Tina Fey's "Mean Girls." In the teen comedy, Caplan plays Janis Ian, the goth schoolgirl who befriends Lindsay Lohan's Cady when she first gets to North Shore High School. Initially, the actress didn't seem like the right person to play Janis, but she won everyone over. "She was so naturally funny that we knew we had to make it work somehow even though she's actually not how the part was written," director Mark Waters even told Cosmopolitan.

"Mean Girls" went on to be a huge hit, grossing a reported $130.7 million at the global box office against an estimated production budget of $18 million. The film also gave Caplan a lot of exposure, which wasn't always a good thing. During an interview with the Independent, the actress recalled struggling to land other roles after the movie came out. It was only when Caplan decided to dye her hair blond and get a spray tan that she finally booked her next job, the short-lived dramedy "Related."

In her late 20s, she landed one of the lead roles in this Matt Reeves sci-fi movie

While things didn't immediately go well for Lizzy Caplan in the television world, the actress found her way back to the big screen with the 2008 film "Cloverfield," produced and directed by Hollywood heavyweights J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, respectively. As Caplan would later admit, she was initially drawn to this project because of these big names, Abrams' in particular. 

Even as Abrams and Reeves kept everyone in the dark about what was going to happen in the film, Caplan went ahead and auditioned. The script they gave out even appeared to be misleading, so much so that Caplan assumed they were doing a romantic comedy. While speaking with Movie Web, the actress recalled being given a party scene during her audition for the movie. More importantly, there was no indication that the characters would eventually be trying to escape a monster.

By the time Caplan went in for her second audition, however, she realized that something else was going on, as her character had to stab T.J. Miller's character in the heart with adrenaline. And while neither Caplan nor Miller knew what was happening at the time, the film's director was already impressed with their chemistry. "Having T.J. and Lizzy play off each other was what sold us on that relationship. So, it was critical that we cast them and develop that relationship," he told

Caplan followed this up with a memorable performance in this 2010 R-rated comedy

After delving deep into the horror genre, Lizzy Caplan soon returned to her comedic roots as she joined the cast of "Hot Tub Time Machine," which included John Cusack, Chevy Chase, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Lyndsy Fonseca, Collette Wolfe, Crispin Glover, and Sebastian Stan. The movie tells the story of a group of friends (Cusack, Robinson, Corddry, and Clark Duke) who find themselves time-traveling after spending the night drinking in a hot tub. The men go back to 1986, where Cusack's Adam encounters Caplan's April who becomes his love interest.

Interestingly, April wasn't even the character that Caplan initially went in for. "I first went in for Lyndsy Fonseca's character, Jenny, and then the April character wasn't even in it. Then I went back to meet with them, they were talking about [Wolfe's] role, then there was this other role," she recalled during an interview with JoBlo. The actress also revealed the movie was still being written while the auditions were ongoing.

At 30, she took her talent to Sundance

After several years in Hollywood, it was time for Lizzy Caplan to head to the Sundance Film Festival. Since finding some commercial success, Caplan found herself more drawn to independent projects where she could have more creative independence. "I'd much rather do a film with a $5 million budget than one with a $200 million budget. You don't have all these suits to answer to and all these numbers to live up to," the actress even told the Sundance Institute. In 2012, she made her way to Sundance, where the actress showcased not one, but two starkly different romantic comedies: "Save the Date" and "Bachelorette." 

In "Save the Date," Caplan plays Sarah, a woman who finds herself having a rebound lover after turning down her boyfriend's marriage proposal. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actor spoke about how refreshing it was to work on a romance film that deals with what happens after a breakup instead of typical relationship issues. Meanwhile, "Bachelorette" is a raunchy ensemble rom-com where Caplan, Kirsten Dunst, and Isla Fisher play longtime friends who suddenly become bridesmaids to a woman (Rebel Wilson) that they used to ridicule during their school days. The film later became a hit on iTunes before getting a theatrical release.

A year later, Lizzy delivered her best TV performance yet in Masters of Sex

At some point, it was time for Lizzy Caplan to make her way back to TV, although she wasn't about to deal with another pilot that wouldn't work out again. Caplan happened upon Showtime's "Masters of Sex" and the idea of portraying sexologist Virginia Johnson was immediately intriguing. During an interview with Variety, the actor admitted that she wasn't sure if she would get the part. Nonetheless, Caplan put herself out there yet again. "When that chance presents itself, it's completely exhilarating," the actress remarked.

As it turned out, getting the role had actually been a longshot for Caplan, as showrunner Michelle Ashford was initially unconvinced that she could portray Johnson after looking at her past roles. However, the actor was determined to convince Ashford, even doing her own research on Johnson and reading the book "Masters of Sex." After that, she finally came in to audition and impressed Ashford right away. "She just knew Virginia Johnson inside and out," the showrunner even told Forbes. "She really got it and we were really impressed." "Masters of Sex" also led to Caplan's first Emmy nod.

In 2015, she did a movie with Brad Pitt and met her future husband

It seems that Lizzy Caplan has made a habit of going back and forth between TV and film ever since she got started in Hollywood. Following her success on "Masters of Sex," the actress made her way back to the big screen once again. This time, she joined the cast of Robert Zemeckis' romantic thriller "Allied," which was headlined by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Set during World War II, the film centers around a Canadian intelligence officer named Max (Pitt) and a French resistance fighter named Marianne (Cotillard) who fall in love while carrying out a mission behind enemy lines. Meanwhile, Caplan played Pitt's sister, Bridget. While the storyline may or may not be based on a real-life story, all that mattered to Caplan was that she could work on a Zemeckis movie, having been a longtime fan of his film "Back to the Future."

While working on the Zemeckis' movie, Caplan also unexpectedly found love. Actor Tom Riley wasn't actually in "Allied," but he happened to be in London while Caplan was shooting. The two hit it off right away and just a year later, Riley and Caplan got engaged. In 2017, the couple tied the knot in a private ceremony in Italy.

In 2021, Lizzy Caplan became a mom

A few years after their wedding, Lizzy Caplan and her husband Tom Riley welcomed their first child, a son named Alfie. For the couple, the timing of his arrival couldn't be more perfect. "We got a lot of life in before we had a kid, so we were both very ready to do this," Caplan explained during an interview with Grazia. She also explained that she intended to wait a little bit to start their family.

Since having a son, both Caplan and Riley have committed to being equally involved in day-to-day parenting. That being said, it's also worth noting that Caplan hasn't slowed down since giving birth, juggling several movie and television projects alongside her mom duties. Eventually, though, the Emmy-nominated actress found some downtime in her schedule to spend more quality time with her husband and baby. "I have no hobbies; my hobby is him," the actress said of Alfie.

A year later, she wowed critics once more with another TV role

The last thing fans might have expected is Lizzy Caplan becoming a stay-at-home mom. Interestingly, that's exactly the role she ended up playing in the Hulu series "Fleishman Is in Trouble," which also starred Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, Adam Brody, and Josh Radnor. The series follows Toby Fleishman (Eisenberg) as he faces the bitter realities of his new life after separating from his wife (Danes). Caplan plays Libby Epstein, a housewife (married to Radnor's Adam) who used to be a magazine writer. She is also the narrator of the show.

Having played supporting roles in the past, Caplan was happy to play a secondary role once more for this series. Still, show creator Taffy Brodesser-Akner had something special planned for her character from the start. "In early conversations, Taffy wanted to reassure me that there was a payoff for Libby," Caplan told Vanity Fair. As the show went on, it became clear that Libby was anything but a secondary character. In the end, it was revealed that the show was essentially about her, as the character who ends up writing the book that the show is based on. "I was very lucky that Lizzy, especially, was able to kind of bide her time in scenes where she didn't talk that much," Brodesser-Akner told The Hollywood Reporter. Caplan's performance also led to another Emmy nod.