Annaleigh Ashford Dishes On Lesbian Romance With Sarah Silverman On ‘Masters Of Sex’

by | July 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM | LGBT, Masters of Sex, Showtime

Betty (Annaleigh Ashford) and Helen (Sarah Silverman) on 'Masters Of Sex' (Showtime)

One of the smartest moves the powers that be at Showtime’s Masters Of Sex did between season one and two is make Annaleigh Ashford a series regular.

As Betty in the first season, we met the hard edged prostitute who helped Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) in the early stages of his sex study. Later in the season, however, we found that, despite being a lesbian, Betty had married pretzel mogul Gene (Greg Grunberg) and was putting her sexuality in the closet for the sake of having a more grounded, satisfying life.

Now in Season 2, Betty is back and while she’s as sassy and ballsy as ever, she’s also still in a marriage that may satisfy her wardrobe but isn’t satisfying her sexually. That is, until Sarah Silverman’s Helen shows up and a new, closeted romance, is going to start.

At a press party held on the “Masters Of Sex” set in Culver City, the actress gushed about working with Silverman. “First of all, she’s like one of the most magical people to be with on set.” And while we’re used to the comedic side of Silverman, it’s that side that helps her work her magic in the world of drama, too. “What makes great comedians great is they’re so honest,” Ashford said. “And she’s so honest and beautiful as an actress and just so giving.”

The actress, known for her Broadway work in such shows as “Kinky Boots” and “Hair” as well as the upcoming “You Can’t Take It With You,” did also reveal that Betty and Helen do get horizontal in the course of their storyline but, perhaps to alleviate any nervousness, ended up singing a song from “Gypsy” with her co-star. Ashford recounted that in regards to their costumes for the scene she said to Silverman, “’You look like Louise, and I look like June from Gypsy.’ And [Silverman] turned around and went, ‘If momma was married…’ We sang the whole song! She knew the harmonies. We sang literally the whole song!”

Annaleigh Ashford at the CBS/Showtime TCA party (Showtime)

Of course, there is a more depressing side to Betty since she is a woman hiding in the closet and faking a marriage for stability. Ashford turned it around, though, and explained that her character knows what she’s doing. “The thing about Betty, as a character, is she’s so strong,” the actress said. “And she knows when she does have power. And some of those social norms don’t always apply to Betty, which is just so rich to me as an actor.”

But is Betty’s husband as in the dark about her sexuality and this upcoming affair with Helen as we think? A sly look appeared on Ashford’s face and she chose her words carefully, saying, “Betty has so many secrets. And Greg’s character, Gene, also has a few secrets…as Betty’s secrets unravel, it becomes clear about what he knows about her and what he doesn’t know about her.”

Series creator Michelle Ashford (no relation to Annaleigh) also told me at the same event to keep an eye on Grunberg’s character.  “He has a wonderful arc in our show,” she said. “People got married all the time when they were gay and so this story felt very right to us.” She added, in regards to how much Gene knows about his wife, “Every one of our characters has an enormously complicated relationship to love. Some of it is downright cynical, some of it is massively confused and some of it is in denial. We wanted one character who had a real idea what love is so that is him.”

Back to the other Ashford – Annaleigh – the actress has played prostitutes more than once in her career (she counted four), she admitted she doesn’t know why she gets those roles but it isn’t a bad thing at all since, again, power comes into play. “I don’t know why. This is like my fourth hooker. I don’t know what that means but I’ll take it because usually they win the scene. Usually, they’re winning in the scene. They’ve got the power in the scene. Usually, they’re funny. And usually, they have the darkest past, which is always the most interesting to play. Amen.”

“Masters Of Sex” airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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