Interview with Will Forte, Phil Lord and Chris Miller from "Last Man on Earth" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Will Forte

Interview with Will Forte, Phil Lord and Chris Miller of "Last Man on Earth" on FOX 2/24/15

I was invited to this call, but unfortunately, I was very sick, so I missed it. I did watch the show and we reviewed it. I would have liked to have asked them whether the world still has electricity or not, and where all the dead bodies went. I really enjoyed reading the transcript below!

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: The Last Man On Earth Conference Call
February 24, 2015/12:30 p.m. PST

Hayley Hindinger
Will Forte
Chris Miller
Phil Lord


Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to The Last Man On Earth Conference Call. At this time, participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. (Operator instructions.) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Hayley Hindinger. Please go ahead.

Hayley: Hi, everybody. Thank you for joining our call today in support of The Last Man On Earth with creator, writer, executive producer, and star, Will Forte; and executive producers and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The Last Man On Earth series premiere is this Sunday, March 1st, with two back-to-back episodes airing from 9 to 10 p.m. Pacific. And in your pre-premiere coverage we do ask that you continue to protect spoiler-y plot points and characters to preserve the viewing experience for the audience. Thank you for that in advance.

Now, Iíd like to turn it over to Will, and Chris, and Phil for the first question.



Moderator: (Operator instructions.)

Man:Do I have to press anything to answer, or itís just normal?

Man:I think weíre good.
Moderator: Our first question comes from Alex Biese from Asbury Park Press. Please go ahead.

Alex: Hi there. Will, Chris, and Phil, thank you very much for taking your time to talk with us today. I really appreciate it.

Will: Thank you.

Man:Iím glad to be here.

Alex: I guess going off the no spoiler warning we were all just given, how is it for you guys to be promoting and discussing this product that youíve all been working on for so long and being very limited in what it is youíre able to say until the public gets a chance to check it out on Sunday night?

Will: Itís definitely tricky. Itís been tricky because we want to find that right blend of explanation and description of the show, but we also want to save some of the fun surprises. And I guess, unfortunately, weíre not going to know until after Sunday if weíve struck the right balance. I feel there are so many discussions. I know that I am more on the side of keeping the secrets. But then again, Iíve really never been in anything that people have gone to go see, so Iím not a marketing genius by any stretch.

Phil: The trick for us is we want to protect the audienceís experience of watching the show. And part of it is getting to enjoy all of the delicious surprises. You guys have seen a couple of them but thereís a lot more to come, and itís just one of the joys of Willís writing.

We feel like our job, and the marketing team has done a great job of saying, ďHey, kids, thereís a present under the tree.Ē But we still give everybody the opportunity to go under the tree and unwrap it instead of ďHey, Santa got you something, and by the way, Santa doesnít exist and itís a go-bot.Ē Thereís no fun in that. Iím really happy that people have gone along with the ride, and all the press weíve talked to, and Fox and stuff has been really on board with just trying to tease this out and sell the idea that thereís a lot of great surprises on the way.

The one thing thatís challenging is seeing people say, ďOh well, thereís no way that concept can last for an entire season.Ē And then weíre sitting back here going, ďYou donít know. Thereís so much more to it than you know,Ē and not being able to say that. Hopefully we can get the message across that thereís a lot more to come and we just donít want to spoil it for anyone.

Will: Yes, and pretty much every episode ends with a twist, or a cliffhanger, or a new development, so itís pretty fun.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby from Please go ahead.

Jamie: Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today. I really enjoyed the pilot. I got the same feeling at the beginning, Iím like, how is this going to go forever with one person? But I was very happy to be wrong, and I can definitely see this going further because I really enjoyed it.

Itís a great concept, so my first question is how did you come up with it?

Chris: Well, it was a team effort. Phil and Will and I hung out for several days. We wanted to make a TV show together, and weíve been friends for many years.

Phil: We came to Will as a writer first, we said, ďLook, I obviously would love for you to be in this.Ē But we met Will when he was a writer and thatís how he was paying his rent, and we just had so much respect for him and his voice and we just wanted to figure out the best vessel to get that on to television.

Chris: And one of the ideas that we tossed around was this idea of something that sort of takes place in a post-apocalyptic state, and all the questions that that brings up. It was something that Will sparked to immediately, and then basically went home and over a weekend wrote a treatment for an entire season, and it was amazing. So, it was just something that he was really inspired by, and we were just excited to help support his vision.

Will: Yes, we knew that it was the right thing for us to work on, because once we settled on this concept it just jumped out at us. It was almost hard to stop typing, because it just was really like we had talked about, so many different areas and weíre trying to figure out how to turn it into a show, and then this just leapt out at us and it immediately felt like the right thing to do.

Jamie: Great. Then as a follow up, I was just curious if you guys were suddenly the last person what would be the first thing you would run to do, because you could do anything?

Will: A lot of the things that I would do are things that I actually do in the pilot in the first couple of episodes, a lot of wish fulfillment stuff. It doesnít take much to make me happy, so if you give me a steamroller and some breakables Iím pretty good, or a flame thrower.

But another thing that I think would be at the top of the list would be going and finding all the classified information thatís out there in Washington, D.C. and just figure out what really is happening with all these conspiracy theories. I love that stuff.

Phil: Chris, I was just sitting here going how do I not have a stock answer prepared for this question?

Chris: I like Willís answer, go to Area 51 or something, and see if thereís actually aliens there.

Phil: I honestly would be thrilled to just figure out how to make a fire and get back to basics. Iíd kind of want to just, I donít know, see what itís like to live in ignorance for a little while. I promise to come up with a better answer.

Chris: Well, you can alsoó

Phil: Maybe by the end of this call, and if I think of it Iíll say it.

Chris: You could also drive this little spaceship if you go into Area 51. Iím just saying.

Phil: Itís true.

Will: Or see nothing and then be like, oh yesó

Phil: Go back to caveman times.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Fred Topel from Nuke the Fridge. Please go ahead.

Fred: Hi, guys.

Will: Hello.

Phil: Hi.

Fred: I was wondering if thereís going to be a prank on Will [indiscernible] in an upcoming episode to get him back [indiscernible].

Chris: We reallyó

Phil: Oh my God, we reallyó

Chris: I canít believe we dropped the ball on that. We didnít even think about it in the realm of television. Thatís reallyó

Phil: I am so sad that we didnít think of that. Thereís always post production.

Chris: Thatís right.

Phil: [Indiscernible]ó
Fred: [Indiscernible] the ballís in your court.

Will: Yesterday was the last day of production, so evenó

Phil: Oh man, where were you?

Will: óyesterday.

Phil: Yes. Where were you?

Chris: We literallyó

Phil: [Indiscernible].

Chris: óthe last shot yesterday of the whole season.

Fred: Sorry, I forgot to ask that at TCA. I was taking myó

Phil: Oh my God, we would have got right on it. Weíll try to think of something.

Fred: Coming back to television so long after Clone High and doing a live action series, whatís it like?

Chris: Itís been great. This cast is phenomenal. The show itself is so original and funny, and itís been a real joy for us to work on something that is just good right out of the gate. And itís been a really good way to get back into television, Iíve got to say.

Phil: Yes, and we told this to folks on set and itís well reported, it really is one of the most enjoyable professional experiences weíve ever had, probably the most fun shooting on a set weíve ever had. It all comes down to just having great collaborators and Will giving us such original material to start with, and being such a great creative partner on set. Iíd say it couldnít possibly be better.

Certainly we would spent a lot of time writing on sitcoms and wound up on How I Met Your Mother, it was the last thing we did before we went off to make Cloudy, and we felt insane because it was the first show weíd ever worked on that went past 13 episodes. And the minute they hit Episode 17 we were like, ďAlright, weíre leaving. Weíre going to go try to make movies.Ē We left behind what would have been a very pleasant and comfortable life, and so itís really nice to come back and work in television again and have it be just as satisfying as that experience.

Fred: Thank you.

Phil: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Tara Bennett from SFX Magazine. Please go ahead.

Tara: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for doing this.

Will: Thank you.

Chris: Our pleasure.

Tara: I just want to talk a little bit about Philís journey this season. As youíve developed the show and as you guys have even figured out where you want to place him, what can we look forward to into how heís going to grow and really what the point of his journey is for you guys as youíve been crafting it?

Will: Itís very hard to answer that question and not give away some very tightly held secrets for what happens down the line. I guess the best way to answer it is that we had a plan from the very beginning. We pitched the show with the general outline of the whole first season already pretty well thought out, and we certainly had to buckle down and figure out a lot of intricacies and pain in the butt stuff, but the big, bold strokes of the season were already formed. And Fox loved the idea and really supported us, and liked how we had envisioned the arc of the first season. They were really great about giving us just a ton of creative freedom. They were great partners.

I think we always saw this as more of a cable show, to be honest. They claimed from the get-go that they didnít want to change the tone of the show, and I think I went in with an eyebrow raised, thinking, okay, well whenís it going to come out that we have to change it around? And they were great. They stuck by their pledge and let us make this different type of show. Weíre so happy to have had this experience. It was just a great, great experience with Fox.

Phil: I would also add that even though itís a very unusual show, Willís original pitch had and the show has red meat, emotional character arc for Phil Miller that is an extremely universal thing. I think thatís what Fox saw, is that the bones of this are something that, when I show my hipster friends, they think this show is amazing. And when I show my mom, she thinks the showís amazing too, because she really relates to Philís struggle.

When youíre asking about whatís this guyís journey going to be like, we always talked about that this is a person who is very flawed, and a person who maybe needed the entire world to end in order for him to become his best self. And weíve always talked about writing the show about somebody for whom the end of the world might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him, and over 100 episodes he basically turns into the person that we all hoped that he could be.

Will: Sorry, my washer buzzer just went off. Iím washing clothes.

Phil: Basically theó

Will: Thatís also a spoiler. Thatís also a spoiler. I donít want people to know that I have clean clothes.

Phil: Yes. But basically that was our big thought, well hereís a guy who maybe he wasnít the best guy in the regular world, but if you took the regular world away, could he eventually get back to being the person that all of us hope that we can be.

Tara: The only other follow up I have is, Will, youíve played a lot of different characters, created a lot of different characters, what feels special about Phil to you?

Will: Well, the exciting thing about this character is that it feelsóIím used to the experience at SNL, where I was an absurd character all the time, all these over-the-top characters, and had so much fun. It was such a blast. But I donít know that people ever really got to know who the heck I was. I was just the dude in these huge, thick mustaches every week.

I guess thatís a bad way to answer this, because I do have an enormous beard in this show. But this is a chance to play a character thatís a little closer to who I am in real life and be a real person. In a lot of ways I felt some real similarities to the character that I got to play in the movie Nebraska, and this is a combination of the SNL craziness side and the Nebraska slightly more subdued side. So itís [audio disruption] ó

Phil: Maybe we lost you guys.

Chris: Did we lose Will? Did we lose us? Hello?

Moderator: We can hear you. We canít hear Will.

Phil: [Indiscernible]. It sounds like the washing machine took over.

Hayley: If he dropped off we can take the next question for Phil and Chris, and then weíll get Will back on the line.

Phil: Great.

Chris: Sounds good.

Moderator: The next question comes from the line of Melody Simpson from Hollywood The Write Way. Please go ahead.

Melody: Hi, guys. I want to know what is the biggest challenge with getting the pacing right, because it seems perfect and effortless on camera, but we all know it takes a lot of hard work to get the pacing right on any great show.

Chris: Oh yes. This show in particular, because the pacing is a really important part of it, we like to spend a lot of time in the editing room. Will is equally as fussy as we are as far as going to the frame of what feels right. Then we also like to watch these things with a group and then see where people are engaged, and where people are fidgeting in their seats, checking their watches.

Phil: And with this show in particular we actually asked Fox, which they donít typically do this, we said, why donít you get an audience that you would normally have for a multi-camera sitcom and just sit in and watch on show night, why donít you get those guys and have them come in and watch The Last Man On Earth, and weíll just sit and listen and weíll videotape them and see where they laugh and where they donít.

This show is on Sunday nights on Fox, and thereís a really specific audience of like Family Guy fans, and in comes a group of people that couldnít be further from that audience. And we were all horrified, going, oh no. Then we showed it and they were so engaged and laughed so hard and were so vocal it gave us a huge sigh of relief. It just taught us that these are themes that land with a lot of different kinds of people. Part of it, and Chris is right, we found a few things that, okay, well nobody gets that and theyíre getting everything else, so clearly that thing doesnít work.

The big thing that was important to us and important to Will is that the performances didnít feel fake, or zippy, or cartoon-y, that the show could have, we could edit, we could have short snippets of scenes. You saw some of that stuff where heís playing with the tennis balls, itís a very short moment, but the pacing of the moment within that space that we gave it was very natural, and in general the show allows for processing for someone to understand what something means before they respond to it.

We were really careful about making sure that the audience had time to project into the characters what they might be thinking and feeling, instead of being told that with dialogue all the time. Sometimes when shows are cut really, really fast they feel a little bit like theyíre hiding something, or theyíre a little scared to let you sit in the moment, and it was really important to Will in particular to allow us to experience things with the characters. We think it adds to the engagement with the show.

While we knew it was 21 minutes and it was on Fox, we wanted to make sure the show felt like it was never wasting your time. I think thatís really important. People are busy and theyíve got stuff to do, and we always take that really, really seriously, the same thing in our movies, but we wanted within the time that our audience is entrusting to us, we wanted it to be immersive.

Melody: Great. And myó

Will: Iím back, by the way. Iím sorry. I must have been cut off because my answer was maybe getting too artsy-fartsy.

Phil: I think thereís an automatic limiter on this call. If you get too artsy-fartsy it literally just cuts you off and hangs up on you.

Melody: My follow up question, what are some post-apocalyptic or dystopian movies and books that are mentioned and thrown out in the writersí room?

Chris: Oh Godó

Will: Well, a ton of stuff. There are a bunch of very obvious ones that you would think of from the get-go, Omega Man, and I am Legend, 28 Days Later, the first part, when heís walking around the empty streets. But one of the big things to me was my fascination with that show Life After People. I loved that show. I was so fascinated by it. The parts of those movies that I just brought up that I always love are the parts where the characterís just wandering around an empty city. That is so fascinating to me and it always makes me wonder what it would be like if I was that person and what I would do. So, that was a big deal to me.

How about you guys, Chris and Phil?

Chris: Yes, Life After People was something that we talked about. What other post-apocalyptic?

Phil: The one I canít stop thinking about is Omega Man, just because itís so crazy. I like the Will Smith version a lot, especially before the zombies show up, but the Charlton Heston version of that character, itís so B-movie and pushed, and his performance just really feels like a guy who went crazy, and just him driving around with just a shotgun in a convertible just seems like the funniest thing to me. I felt like no one had explored how silly that experience would be.

I think in a strange way Will wrote the most grounded, most real version of that experience, like what you would really do is kind of fart around and I think he got to how lonely that would feel. In a weird way it felt like we were simultaneously doing the comedic version, but also the most honest version.

Melody: Thank you.

Will: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Al Mannarino from Please go ahead.

Al: Hi, guys. Thank you so much for joining this conference call.

Will: Thank you.

Al: How long do you think it would take you to go insane being the last man on earth? And as a follow up, completely unrelated, Will, Iím the biggest MacGruber fan and quote it on a daily basis. Can you give us any updates on the sequel?

Will: Yes, happily. Thank you. I think I would go insane pretty quickly. Actually, you know what, I might last a little while, because I get kind of a hyper focus going, so I think I would probably get into some weird computer game that would take my mind off stuff for a while. But inevitably that would wear off and I would go crazy pretty quickly. Iím starting from a place of near craziness anyway, so itís debatable that Iím not already there in a land with people.

As for MacGruber 2, Jorma, John, and I have been so busy. John Solomon is working on the show with me. Heís writing and directing some of the episodes, so weíve been going nuts on that. Jorma is very busy with his own stuff. But we already have about half of an outline done, maybe more than a half. And the way we outline it is so in depth that by the time we actually sit down to write it, which I believe weíre planning to do in about a month, thatís my goal is to just get right in there, I think weíll have a script pretty quickly.

And it does feel like there are some very real possibilities of places that might let us make it, which is very exciting. Before we would bring it up, just a dream scenario of trying to find somebody who might let us make it, but it seems like it could actually happen, which is very exciting.

Chris: And my answer is seven months before I go crazy. I could watch a lot of movies, distract myself, drive around, check out some stuff, and then after seven months I think I would go full onó

Phil: Iím impressed.

Chris: ócrazy.

Phil: I vote seven days. Thatís about howó

Chris: Seven days?

Phil: I enjoy myself entirely when my girlfriend is away, seven days is great, and then I get real lonely.

Chris: People go on those weird retreats where they have to be quiet for seven days. People do that all the time.

Phil: Yes. And they come backó

Chris: Crazy.
Phil: Maniacs, schizophrenics.

Moderator: Our next question is from the line of Jamie Steinberg from Starry Constellation Magazine. Please go ahead.

Jamie: Hi, itís such a pleasure to speak with you all. Thank you so much for your time.

Will: Thank you.

Man:Of course.

Jamie: Will, I was wondering, you have such great comedic timing. Is it always a natural ability that youíve had, or have you had to try to hone it over the years? You worked at SNL, but you just have some great comedic timing.

Will: Thank you very much. I feel like being at The Groundlings and havingóIím sure most of you know The Groundlings, itís a wonderful comedy improv theater in Los Angeles, and itís become such a family to me. And you get there and you just feel protected and safe, and you really get to get this wonderful confidence being on stage. I donít think that I would ever have found any kind of comedy timing if I didnít feel so safe in that environment. I would give all that credit to The Groundlings, and thank you for the compliment. Thatís very nice.

Jamie: Youíre welcome. Youíre a part of social media. Youíve recently become quite active. Are you looking forward to that instant fan feedback youíre going to be receiving when the show premieres?

Will: Iíve been dragged into the social media thing, thereís really no way around it, and I do agree that itís stupid to not try to get out there in any way that you can. Iím so proud of the show and I want people to see it. Itís not really in my nature to post stuff, what Iím doing from moment to moment, but it is important to me that people give this show a chance, because Iím so proud of it, so Iím doing whatever I can to get the word out there. And, yes, I am looking forward to it if itís positive.

Jamie: Great, thank you.

Phil: Thatís what the Internet is for, rightó

Chris: Positivity.
Phil: ójust positive feedback on everything.

Chris: Thatís what Iíve found.

Jamie: Iíll tell you, there are big blocks of blackened out portions on the Internet of where things have been redacted.

Phil: Exactly.

Chris: Yes.

Jamie: Thank you, guys, so much.

Will: Thank you.

Chris: [Indiscernible] Internet.

Phil: Yes, we have a special Fox Internet that only has compliments that we use.

Chris: [Indiscernible].
Hayley: Thank you, everybody. That actually concludes our call. Thanks for joining today, and please tune in, Sunday, March 1st at 9 p.m. on Fox for the premiere of The Last Man On Earth.

Will: Thank you very much.

Hayley: Thank you.

Phil: Thanks, guys.

Chris: Bye.

Moderator: Thank you. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and using the AT&T Executive TeleConference Service. You may now disconnect.

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