"This whole thing feels like Christmas or something!"
Participating in the Masters and Johnson sex study is the gift that keeps on giving for Dr. Austin Langham (Teddy Sears) on Showtime's Masters of Sex (Sunday, 10/9c). In last week's series premiere, the philandering orthopedist got the green light to cheat on his wife in the name of science as part of Masters and Johnson's human sexual response research.
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"[Dr. Langham] has a little bit of a penchant for extracurricular activities outside of his marriage, to put it very kindly," Sears tells TVGuide.com. "Masters and Johnson know this, and so they recruit me to take part in the first experiment." In the experiment, two participants are introduced to each other, wired up and then proceed to have sex while Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and his assistant Virgina Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) observe the activity and monitor their bodies' changes.
Stripping down to his birthday suit wasn't a big deal for Sears, whose first nude scene was in Season 1 of FX's American Horror Story, playing the lover of Zachary Quinto's character. "So, the seal was broken. I thought, 'Well, I've done it once, let's do it again,'" he says. "My clothes are off a lot in this show. In fairness, most people's [clothes] are, but I didn't have any hesitation because it's Showtime, because the writing is so good, because it's a period thing, mid-'50s, and because the character is fantastic. It was a no-brainer."
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While being naked is easy and natural, that's the the opposite of what these particular nude scenes required to simulate the laboratory environment of the research study. Sears explains, "I'm having sex in the experiment with Heléne Yorke, who plays Jane, and we had to do that scene a few different times because [director John Madden] had to shoot it from a number of different angles. And we're all wired up, and the wires after every take, it looked like a bird's nest. And so we had to unspool the wires and do the whole thing over again. It gets decidedly unsexy after a while, but it was a lot of fun.
"But I have to say, I was embarrassed. It was a little bit scary for me," Sears admits. "John Madden, he would say this during shooting the pilot, 'I want to protect your modesty,' which was very great. Having someone like him, sort of the nice grandfather say, 'Grab her bum and put your hand on her nipple,' that was a little bit strange."
In contrast, Dr. Langham has no problem jumping into the sack and is the picture of confidence. This self-assurance, however, could be misleading. Sears says, "Every decision he's made in his life has been to show everyone out in the world to convince them, including himself, that he is as awesome as he wants to believe he is, that he is a successful and in charge and, you know, cock-of-the-walk type of guy. And, really, I think that all of that masks some very some very large insecurities of which I think we just might begin to see in Season 1.
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"He begins to encounter some issues in his life," Sears continues. "We see a very small glimpse of his family and his personal life outside of the hospital. The guy has clearly got some issues with women, and how he sees women. Really I think there are some deep-seated issues that I hope we get to play with as the show unfolds."
Meanwhile, Dr. Langham is always "game to volunteer" for more research. Unfortunately, this preview of Sunday's episode implies that he may have his Christmas present taken away:
Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, the parent company of Showtime.)
Additional reporting by Robyn Ross