After swearing us to secrecy (BIG THINGS HAPPEN!) and screening the upcoming ninth episode of the freshman apocalyptic comedy, creator and star Will Forte and executive producers and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took the stage for a rousing conversation and Q&A. Here are the highlights:
- A SUPER VAGUE Episode Review For “The Do-Over”: It’s one of the funniest episodes of the season, and another episode that changes the status quo drastically. It also continues the fearless exploration into awkward, uncomfortable comedy. In episodes past, this made Phil Miller almost unlikable, which is incredibly hard to do with a Will Forte character. Here, it works, even if it’s setting us up for a $#*! storm of awkward moving forward.
- What inspired Miller and Lord to become filmmakers? For Miller, it was The Muppet Movie, when he wondered, “Who’s driving the car for real?” with Fozzie in the driver’s seat. From there, he started making his own short films with his “parents VHS stuff.” Lord saw Young Frankenstein and Harold & Maude “in the same afternoon for some reason.” The films “introduced me to the idea that movies could be really funny and interesting all at once.”
- Where did the idea of Last Man on Earth come from? Forte references the Life After People show on Sci-Fi (now SyFy), and was fascinated by the idea of what happens after people leave. He also referenced 28 Days Later, Omega Man and I Am Legend, “all very funny pieces of entertainment,” jokes Lord.
- Where are the dead bodies? There was something in the pilot initially that addressed it; Phil would find the previous owner of the house dead in bed. But after much discussion it was removed. Why? “Corpses were not hilarious,” Miller states. This means that bodies are now either luckily off screen or all conveniently vaporized. “If were lucky enough to get a season 2 it’ll be all dead bodies,” Forte promises.
- They originally thought having just one (or a few) characters would make the show cheaper. They’d save money on extras, and it’d be so easy to shoot. Instead, they had to be wary of the reflections on windows of cars passing by, planes flying overhead, and people randomly walking back deep in the background which normally wouldn’t matter. “It turns into a real pain in the ass on this show,” Miller says. This extends to animals, as birds can’t fly overhead, because “Birds don’t exist right now,” a decision made while writing the pilot that they now regret.
- There are no animals, except one cow, mysteriously with milk somehow, Miller points out. And apparently, the cow from the show is the Chick-Fil-A cow. “The most famous cow in America. Promotable.” One that FOX paid extra for, they joke. “She’s in the next panel,” Lord cracks.
- What were the inspirations for the character of Phil Lord? “A lot of it is very personal…or what I would do…a lot of the things you see in the first couple episodes are dumb little things that sound fun to me. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.” Forte explains. He particularly loved steamrolling things and using the flamethrower. The show was “putting me in that situation. A heightened version [of me]. I’m not exactly like that.”
- Any Clone High news? “We talk about it a lot. We periodically call Bill Lawrence about it. It seems like it’d be easier to do it as a movie than as a TV series with everybody being tied up in different places. [Unfortunately] there hasn’t been any forward movement in the past few months,” Miller says. They’re still quite excited about more Clone High, and of course, still know the guy who plays Abraham Lincoln (that’d be Forte).
- Will there be Lego sequences on the show? “Not likely but anything is possible,” Miller says. “Season 2” becomes the default response, with the idea of a lot of lego dead bodies.
- Where did the idea of all the balls come from, and do the names have any significance, and can any of them name them all by heart? First off, Forte’s a champ and totally can name them all by heart. He also “drew all those faces. I’m a control freak…it’s a sickness.” As for names, “I just love the name Gary. For some reason that just feels like a buddy, so that’s where we started.” And the balls obviously stemmed from Cast Away, a movie that Forte says they should’ve mentioned as an inspiration for the show. “It really does show you, [that] you can exist for awhile with nobody else and have this very riveting thing to watch. I’m not saying our show is riveting. [But] yhat was the goal, to create something like that,” Forte continues.
- When someone accidentally calls Will Forte Will Arnett, Forte doesn’t skip a beat: “My mom does that sometimes. She does call the show Last Man Standing all the time.”
- How much ad libbing is done on the show? “We try to get the scripts to the point where we don’t need to ad lib,” but Kristen Schaal’s gifted at improv and often her ad libbing makes it into the show. That said, “we try to get it to a point where…improv is a luxury,” Forte says.
- Any news on a potential season 2? “You never know until you get the call to say we’re doing it. We’re very hopeful. It seems good, but you never know. Hopefully we’ll know soon. We have to know by May,” Forte points out. Miller is “cautiously optimistic.” Lord suggests mailing volleyballs and shaved beard hair to FOX to show support, which I hope at least one person does.
- It only took Will Forte SIX MONTHS to grow that gnarly beard. “Having the beard is pretty gross. It’s very hard to eat anything with sauces on it…[it] create[s] a hardened mustache crust.” Yum.
- Why aren’t Lord and Miller directing Lego Movie 2? “A lot of reasons. They take a long time, which means we wouldn’t be able to make anything else for 2.5 to 3 years, which is a long time…We found a guy that we love, who’s a friends of ours, Rob Schrab, who’s a very talented guy,” Miller explains, touting Schrab’s Community laden resume. Lord believes the Lego movies will be more interesting than if they just did them all themselves. In fact, they’re inspired by seeing the different voices behind the movies. “We wanted to expand on what can be done in the medium of Lego movies,” Lord states. But they’re not abandoning the franchise. Miller explains their continued involvement thusly: “We’re not deadbeat Dads. We’re super involved Dads.” Or “soccer Dads,” Lord jokes. In fact, “We’re going to be writing Lego Movie 2 as soon as we’re done with this panel,” Lord says.
Following The Lego Movie, 21 and 22 Jump Street, Chris Miller and Phil Lord have established themselves as a must-watch comedic force, so whether it’s more Clone High, Lego Movie 2 or new episodes of Last Man on Earth, I’ll be watching.