Masters of Sex's Nicholas D'Agosto on Ethan's Ominous Start and Big, 'Butt-Centric' Love Scene

Nicholas D'Agosto NakedWhen Nicholas D’Agosto signed up to co-star on Showtime’s sublime Masters of Sex, he checked his inhibitions at the door. Not that the actor, who’s already appeared in two of the show’s racier love scenes, had that many to begin with.

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“Your insecurities can’t get the better of you when you enter a show like this,” says the Omaha native, who plays Dr. Masters’ brash protégé, Ethan Haas. “You know what you’re going to be called upon to do.

“And,” he adds, “I’m not insecure about doing that stuff.”

Thus far, “that stuff” has included baring almost all of his assets for the Oct. 27 episode, in which his character unwittingly takes the virginity of sorta-girlfriend Vivian. “That’s the more butt-centric of the two” love scenes, he recalls, acknowledging that this aspect of his day job “isn’t the most exciting thing to put on” his real-life significant other. “She’s exceptionally cool about it – cooler than maybe I would be if she was an actress, which she’s not, thankfully.

“It’s not something I want to make jokes about,” he continues. “Not that you’re asking me to. But sometimes people want to encourage me to pander to that. And I don’t want to, because it’s personal to a lot of people.”

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D’Agosto has bigger concerns, anyway. For instance, he’s well aware that Ethan — who in the pilot not only called Lizzy Caplan’s plucky Virginia a whore but struck her — is not exactly liked by viewers. “A lot of people view him as unforgivable, but I totally disagree,” he argues. “That was his first real heartbreak. He was shattered and didn’t realize his own rage. And he made a mistake.”

Masters of SexPerhaps the audience will come to understand Ethan better over time — or through his interactions with others. In Sunday’s episode (10/9c), for instance, we learn how his dalliance with Vivian (who, by the way, is his boss’ daughter) has progressed since we last saw them two weeks ago. “Now it becomes about how I feel about her,” D’Agosto teases in character. “What are we doing? How does this relationship compare with the relationship I still dream of having with Virginia?”

The hour also introduces Ethan’s older brother, played by Mob City‘s John Pollono. “He serves to color in some of what drives Ethan. And he’s also sort of a sounding board to him about what Vivian represents.”

Will it be enough to redeem the young doctor? Maybe not. “But the arc of the season,” D’Agosto maintains, “is one where Ethan ends in an entirely different place than where he starts. My hope is you’ll find it hard not to like him at some point.”