photographer / Isaac Sterling story / Jessica Rounds stylist / Jak @ the wall group hair / Tony Chavez @ Tracey Mattingly using Living Proof makeup / Ashleigh Louer @ Magnet Agency using Nars Cosmetics
Let’s start with Meryl Streep. That is where it started for the dynamic Masters of Sex actress, Caitlin FitzGerald, as a 13-year-old girl watching SOPHIE’S CHOICE. Enormously moved by Streep’s riveting performance, FitzGerald knew she wanted to be an actress.
Actors often attribute their early thespian aspirations to watching one of the greats onscreen, especially when that legend is Meryl Streep. But co-starring with them on a first film straight out of college? That’s how FitzGerald launched her career – an acting trial by fire with the likes of Streep, Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski in the 2009 romantic comedy, IT’S COMPLICATED.
She’d calmly approached the lengthy audition process, positive that the producers would cast a known movie star in her role. So when she landed the part, reality/terror set in. On that first overwhelming day on set, FitzGerald said, “there was this amazing moment where I thought, man, if you had told my younger self that I would be working with her, I wouldn’t have believed it. No acting class can prepare you for the real thing, and you just hope that your acting fears don’t paralyze you!”
She admits to making plenty of rookie mistakes, but considers working with such a seasoned crew to be the first of many educational and fulfilling acting experiences. In the last four years, FitzGerald has not stopped working, and her rapidly growing filmography includes the popular television drama series Gossip Girl, NEWLYWEDS (co-starring and directed by Edward Burns), and LIKE THE WATER, a film she co-wrote based on the death of her childhood friend. However, her favorite acting experience was a few summers ago playing Juliet in a little regional Shakespeare company’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Performing outside amongst the Redwood trees in Santa Cruz, CA while falling in love with her co-star made it one of the most memorable and magical summers to date.
Currently, she stars in the new Showtime favorite, Masters of Sex, directed by THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL’s John Madden. She plays Libby Masters, wife of the controversial Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen), a pioneering researcher of human sexuality at Washington University in the 1950’s. Her character struggles to conceive a child and maintain a marriage with a man who has become so focused in his fertility research that he neglects her emotionally. FitzGerald’s powerful performance reveals vulnerability and courage simultaneously, establishing her as one of the most interesting characters on the show.
What makes an actor great in FitzGerald’s opinion? “The actors I most like to watch are the ones who are really risking something and showing a true part of who they are…great technicians who also know how to tell a good story. I’m most interested in watching people who are really human – authentically human.” She could be describing her own performance, finding relevance and her own voice in a typical 50’s era housewife who is dealing with darker emotional issues. In one uncomfortable masturbation scene, FitzGerald explored her own sexuality, and noted how the extreme vulnerability and humiliation of the scene (coupled with performing in front of cast and crew) fed the emotional reality of the scene. “I get nervous before every scene,” FitzGerald said. “But if you try and pretend it’s not happening, that’s death. I think leaning into it and embracing it as much as possible is ideal, because there can be an amazing energy behind it. If acting is about being really truthful with exactly what is happening, then if you’re nervous, you have to be nervous – you can’t pretend you’re not.”
With little known information about Libby Masters, researching her character proved frustrating as well as liberating for FitzGerald. However, she embraced the idea that acting is finding that shade within oneself that resonates with the character and ran with it. “We are everyone,” she explained. “We like to think we have one fixed identity, but we are different with all the people in our lives. We are different with strangers than we are with our mothers. We’re different with an enemy than a best friend.”
So who is the real Caitlin FitzGerald? Imagine the Hollywood starlet obsessed with self-image and Twitter followers and partying. Now imagine the exact opposite: a humble, down-to-earth, and hard-working woman. That’s her. “If I could live on a farm between shooting, I would. I don’t like Hollywood. I think there are some very unfortunate priorities, and what is meaningful to people isn’t aligned with what I care about. That being said, I think there are amazing people in this business – very creative minds. I appreciate the opportunities to work with those people.”
She has successfully managed to avoid the Hollywood vortex by spending plenty of time back home in small town Camden, Maine. “I think the minute you start caring so much about compliments and fans and Twitter followers and the red carpet, you go down a spiral of doom basically. I have three younger brothers who keep it really real for me,” she said with a big laugh, and you can’t help but imagine them all rough-housing and running around the woods by her childhood home. “There’s an authenticity that I feel when I’m home, when I don’t wear any makeup, and I wear the same thing everyday, and I don’t care if my hair gets tangled, and I haven’t had a bikini wax…I think getting to check the Hollywood shit with that is so important.”
Refreshing. Candid. Talented. Caitlin FitzGerald is rapidly proving herself to be one of the greats in her own right.
More pictures here!