Janis Ian is iconic. The Mean Girls character joined forces with new girl Cady Heron and Damian Leigh to take down “those bitches” – The Plastics. For some, this made her a 00s hero, defying the personal and physical attributes that were considered to make a girl popular in a western high school. However, others have questioned if Janis was the real villain of the movie (see this Twitter thread for an admittedly well-backed case). Either way: her sharp one-liners, no-nonsense attitude and cutting comebacks created an unforgettable character.
But for the actor who played Janis, Lizzy Caplan, playing the “comical” role had a dark side. Caplan has opened up about the reality of being typecast after Mean Girls – and it’s not so fetch.
Speaking to The Independent, Caplan explained how things have positively changed for female comedy actors in high school roles. “There wasn’t as much room for people more interested in doing things that were left of centre, or identified as something other than either the super popular girl or the dork or whatever,” she said
“Those archetypes felt a lot stronger back then, and I feel like there’s a shift now,” she added. “A lot of the actresses that are playing those parts, like Elsie [Fisher] and [Booksmart’s] Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever – all of these girls are doing way more interesting shit, and they’re just way more interesting actresses than the ones that were around when I was that age.”
Caplan also explained how the role left her typecast, which led her to feel compelled to make personal physical changes.
“I remember after Mean Girls I didn’t work again for a long time,” she continued. “For like a year, I couldn’t get a job. The next thing I did, I straight up dyed my hair blonde and got a spray tan.”
Caplan added: “If they made Mean Girls now, I think that character would not be so pushed aside for future roles,” she suggests. “There’d be more opportunities for somebody playing the weird goth girl in a movie than there was back then.”
She did eventually go on to star in hit shows Masters of Sex and True Blood, but Caplan has described that as a “lucky ticket”. The fact that she describes it like this instead of putting it down to talent and hard work shows just how infuriatingly tough it is in the industry.
If you do want to catch Caplan in her latest series, you can watch Castle Rock on Amazon.
Images: Getty, Paramount