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Forte let his imagination wander in ‘Last Man’

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

PASADENA, Calif. — During his tenure at “Saturday Night Live,” Will Forte created some memorably nutty characters, from the hapless MacGruber to the clueless sports commentator Greg Stink.

The California native has kept busy on both TV and the big screen since departing “SNL,” including a critically acclaimed turn in 2013’s Oscar-nominated “Nebraska.” He returns to TV Sunday with another idiosyncratic character of his own design in the Fox comedy “The Last Man on Earth.” It is 2020 and Forte plays the sole survivor — to his knowledge — of a virus that has decimated the world’s population.

The actor sat down alongside fellow executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the name of Forte’s character on “Last Man” is Phil Miller) to chat with reporters at the recent Television Critics Association winter press tour.


On the genesis of the show and the character’s name:

Forte: I did that as kind of a prank treat for them.

Miller: We’ve been buddies for a long, long time. We’ve always wanted to work together on something, and so we spent several days trying to come up with an idea for a show. We kind of coalesced around this idea, and then Will just took it and put it into his crazy brain and came out with this thing.

On the premise:

Forte: I love comedy where there’s a lot of tension and there’s this idea — even though it’s very far-fetched — it seems very relatable, because I think everybody has thought about “what would you do if you were the last person on Earth?”

Lord: What I thought was so exciting about talking to you about it was what you would really do. You know, like you don’t need to clean up after yourself anymore.

Miller: There’s that scene in the first episode where he has a bunch of bowling balls in a truck and knocks over a bunch of aquariums. That was what Will really wanted to do.


Forte: It has been a very, very fun show to shoot because I get to do a lot of wish fulfillment stuff. I would imagine that men and women would have different ideas about what they would do if they were the last person on Earth. And I think I would just go around and break stuff.

On whether they did research to accurately depict what might happen in this situation:

Forte: It’s embarrassing the little amount of research we did. I basically watched that show “Life After People” several years ago and then tried to remember what I had learned from that show. And I always thought that maybe I would do some research to make sure that all the information was accurate and kind of skipped that step. So there are a bunch of wonderful writers in the room, and they’re all very smart, but I have a feeling that they know as little about what would happen in this situation. So it’s going to kind of be like, if you know a lot about what would happen after, it would be like if people from NASA watched “Spaceballs.” But there’s nothing that’s crazy inaccurate, to my knowledge. And again, it’s not a high level of knowledge.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Globe