Season 3 premieres July 12, but Masters Of Sex’s leading man is staying fairly tight-lipped about what’s coming up on the show. However, he does hint that he and real-life girlfriend Sarah Silverman might be sharing some scenes this season, and says that The Good Wife alum Josh Charles, a new addition to Masters, is “a lovely guy and a terrific actor.” Season 3 sees Masters (Sheen) and Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) publishing their research and becoming public figures as a result, a move that affects them, Sheen says, “not necessarily the way that you’d expect.” Also an upcoming role in the Joseph Cedar-directed film Oppenheimer Strategies sees Sheen working alongside Richard Gere and again, Josh Charles. It’s “a really, really interesting and beautifully written script,” Sheen says. “I look forward to seeing it. I think it could be a really terrific film.”
Season 3 of Masters is coming up–what can you tell us?
Well, the major thing is that the first two seasons have been about the work they’re doing, being kind of underground and kind of secret, and now they become public figures, so that’s the big change. They publish their book, and they become famous through it, and they both deal with that in different ways. That affects both their relationship, but also each of them as individuals, and it’s not necessarily the way that you’d expect. So that’s one of the big, new things for this season. Then the character, Bill, is on a sort of a journey of change, as a man anyway, and so this season a number of things happen early on, one being this public recognition, but also something changes between him and his son. That creates some changes for him, and he starts to let go of certain things in different ways, and that starts to have an effect on him, as well. There are lots of changes coming down the line for him.
Real-life events would suggest that Virginia and Daniel are getting into a relationship.
Well, I’ve got no interest in spoiling things for the people who are interested in watching the show…
Josh Charles has joined the cast as an aphrodisiac salesman–you’d already worked with him on the movie Oppenheimer Strategies?
Yeah. We didn’t have any scenes together really, but we were both on that movie not long before we started on this season. He also did a movie with Sarah (Silverman), my girlfriend, so I’ve known him for a little while now. He’s a lovely guy, and a terrific actor, and we’re very, very lucky to have him with us.
Sarah was previously on Masters–will she make a reappearance this season?
Yes. She’s in the next episode, so, she’ll be back. We see a bit more about what’s going on between her and Betty (Annaleigh Ashford), on their relationship. I don’t want to give anything away, but yes, we check back in with them.
How much fun is it having Sarah on set with you?
Up to this point, we haven’t done any scenes together, so we’ve never been on set together, unfortunately. But that might change this season!
Bill is a really damaged man–what really grabbed you about this character from the beginning?
It was just that really–the combination of a man with huge ambition and huge drive, but at the same time, someone who’s so affected by the damage that was done to him as a child. I was interested in someone who’s pursuing a very ambitious dream and vision in an area that is ultimately about vulnerability, and yet the thing that he has the most difficulty with is vulnerability. So I thought that was a good and interesting contradiction for him, and I was looking forward to exploring that. And to really take onboard how it affects your personality if you’ve suffered some form of abuse as a child, how that affects every relationship you have, because it’s primarily about your relationship with yourself. So then that gets projected out to all of the relationships around him. For him to meet someone like Virginia, who seems to speak to something deep inside him and threatens to unravel everything that he’s built up, I thought that was a really interesting way to explore a relationship, as well. He’s incredibly drawn to someone, but at the same time wants to push them away, and I thought the combination of all of those things was really fascinating.
What about television is particularly appealing to you compared to working on film?
It’s both the positive and the negative about not having a completed script when you first start in television. When I first started work on Masters, all we had was the pilot episode, compared to working on a film where you’ve got the full story ahead of you–you know the beginning, middle and the end–which makes it a lot easier to plan how you’re going to attack this and work out what you’re doing. Whereas with this form of TV, you don’t have that, but that becomes a great strength. You can actually have so much more input into the storyline of a character. The more you start to become familiar with and know who this person is that you’re playing, the more you’re able to feed that back into the actual writing process. So what appears to be one of the things that I was most concerned about before I started on this, has actually turned out to be one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most.
How did you and Lizzy Caplan come to a comfortable place doing all those intimate scenes together?
Whether it’s a TV show or a film, or no matter what it’s about, playing two characters that are getting into a relationship together and becoming closer inevitably, you start to develop a closeness, you start to share things about your own life and reveal things, and you start to bond, and hopefully start to feel comfortable with each other. So with this job, because we do a lot of those sort of scenes, it’s actually a lot easier than it would be working on a film where maybe where there’s one sex scene or something. With Liz, we’ve gone way beyond feeling awkward about everything.
Are you doing High Places, the story of George Mallory?
No. That’s not definite at all. That’s something that I was approached about and I said maybe I was interested, and it all depends on whether it happens at all. But that’s not something that I’m particularly focused on. It’s not a definite thing yet.
What appealed to you about your role in Oppenheimer Strategies?
I thought it was a fantastic script. It’s written by Joseph Cedar, who is also directing it. He wrote and directed a film called Footnote. It’s Richard Gere playing the character, Oppenheimer, who is sort of a wannabe mover and shaker, networker, connector in New York political circles, but he’s a bit of a fantasist really, and I play his nephew. I got a chance to work with Richard, which is great. I really enjoyed it.