Will Forte stars in the very high-concept “The Last Man on Earth,” a new comedy on Fox that is basically what it sounds like. His Phil Miller is the only living man left on the planet, and while the series can be mournful about his situation, it also mines a great deal of comedy from the ways Phil passes his time, from bowling to knock over a stack of filled aquariums, to mocking Wilson from “Castaway” before desperately creating his own extended group of named ball friends. We talked to Forte at a party, where he was gracious enough to be interviewed even though he’d misplaced his cell phone.
Were you nervous at all about being the only character?
Will Forte: That was very exciting, to think about that. What we had to do was get Fox on board with that. They claimed from the beginning that they were ok with that, and we were skeptical and they lived up to their word and they were great. They let us do the show we wanted to do and it was very exciting. We wanted to do something that was a little bit different, and that was by design, and they have been so wonderfully supportive.
How did you come up with what he would do with all that free time?
Forte: It was a lot of just figuring out with the writers what we would do in that situation and a lot of our own wish fulfillment, so that was a really fun part of the process. The tricky part was trying to figure out – because the network was understandably very nervous about a show with one person in it, so we had to find a perfect plan that satisfied them and us and we eventually settled on it, but it took a long time to figure that out and I think both sides were very happy about it.
Which was the most fun of his activities to film?
Forte: It was all really fun. Because I was working with Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who are old, old friends and they’re so talented. Obviously, they made "21" and "22 Jump Street," "The Lego Movie," "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," so I felt very safe with them because we’ve known each other for 15 years or something like that, so we just had a blast making the pilot.
I heard you were the one who came up with all the names?
Forte: I named all the balls and I drew all the faces on the balls, because I’m a control freak.
Do you get to shave the huge hermit beard between seasons?
Forte: Yes, absolutely.
Is it really warm to film with the beard out in the desert?
Forte: It wasn’t that bad. The beard was never a huge problem except for eating. Eating was a huge pain in the butt.
Towards the end of our chat, "Mad Men" star January Jones joined us. She’s been announced as a cast member, but no details about her character have been released.
January Jones: I need to talk to you about something.
Jones: One last question.
OK. Who do you play on the show?
Jones: I play Betty Draper Francis.
Forte: She is…who knows? She might be a dream sequence or a flashback. We’re keeping some mysteries in the show, but it’s exciting because the show goes in a bunch of twisty turny areas. We’re really excited about the little zigs and zags.
Jones: He can’t say anything.
Forte: Fox has been really great about helping us keep secrets and everyone’s been really great.
People are being pretty cagey with details.
Jones: With everything in the media being so open and everything in your face, it’s nice to have something kept secret, right?
Forte: The media so far has been helping us keep the secrets and it’s great. But she’s a vital or non-vital part of the show. I will let you know that.
Jones: I concur.
Mystery man: Jon Benjamin asked me to give you this.
[He plants a kiss on Forte, then says, “And also, this,” before handing Forte his cell phone.]
Forte: Oh my god, thank you very much. That’s it, that’s the one.