Lizzy Caplan on Party Down and the 'Many, Many Versions' of Hot Tub Time Machine

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When you're making a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine, you need actors who are in on the joke. Fortunately, that's what Lizzy Caplan excels at -- not only can she nail a punchline, but her sardonic smarts were well-used both in Mean Girls and in the hit Starz series Party Down, which is about to return for its second season. (She's also more than capable of dramatic range, as anyone who caught her bad-girl True Blood arc can attest.)

A few weeks ago, Caplan rang up Movieline to reveal just how odd the Hot Tub shoot was (and how many writers it employed), what's new on Party Down this season, and why she never gets recognized for Mean Girls.

All right, Lizzy. Walk me through this: your agent calls and says, "I've got a script for you called Hot Tub Time Machine." What's your reaction?

"Where do I sign?!" No, I think my reaction was the same as mot people's reactions, which is that it's the stupidest title for a movie, maybe ever. Then they find out who's in the cast, and it all of a sudden becomes very interesting.

John Cusack is so well-known for his 80's movies...was it surreal to act opposite him in a movie set in the 80's?

Yes, it actually took me a few days of shooting before I had my "Holy sh*t, this is Lloyd Dobler" moment. I think it's the dream of most American girls -- or girls worldwide -- to get to make out with Lloyd Dobler.

I've heard some guys complain that Lloyd Dobler set an unrealistically high bar for them to live up to.

I concur. I think that no guy can ever live up to Lloyd Dobler. In high school, I quoted lines from that movie all the time, thinking that I was coming up with that stuff when in reality, I was cribbing it from Say Anything.

I imagine you weren't quoting those lines to John Cusack himself.

I did not. I should have done that. I'll call him up right now and do that.

Tell me about your character.

I play John Cusack's love interest. I haven't seen it yet, and there have been many, many, many versions of the script, but as of now, I am a reporter for Spin magazine reporting on Poison.

When you say there were so many versions of the script, do you mean there were on-set rewrites, or were you actually shooting different versions?

It's changed a lot. There were many writers coming in and out working on it -- all very funny, talented people. I went in to do looping, and I did looping for a couple different versions, so I have no idea, really, what the movie is. It's kind of weird.

So even while you were shooting, you'd do wildly different takes and lines.

Yeah, there were lots of new pages coming in, which was refreshing, actually. It allowed everybody a lot more freedom, and Steve Pink, the genius director of the movie, allowed us to mess around and improv, which is always good.

How different were those versions? Was there a costume drama take on Hot Tub Time Machine in there somewhere?

No, sadly. Perhaps for the sequel.

Now, I know you're an actress, but I'm going to acknowledge that you were born in the 80's...

[Laughs]

What is your least fond memory of that decade?

I wore a lot of biker short and huge t-shirts. I had no boobs and I was really scrawny, so I looked like a little boy in biker shorts. Any time I look at those pictures, it makes me queasy.

Are there any background extras in the movie rocking that look?

The background extras look awesome. They're all wearing these Day-Glo ski suits, so they're far more fashion-forward than I was. My sister had this hair crimper, but I was far too much of a tomboy to mess with my hair.

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