Life After MacGruber and SNL: Catching up with Will Forte


You came back to the show this season to reprise Greg Stink. Good experience?

Oh, it was fun. I still keep in touch with everybody there and come back and visit all of the time. It was a blast. It's also kind of hard because you go back and you're only doing one sketch and you get to see everybody... There are so many emotions attached to the place and in a way it was hard because I had just kind of gotten OK with it, "OK, I can deal with not being at the show anymore." And then you reopen the wound a little bit and you go, "Oh, I still miss it." But it was a delight to be back, though.

It's been pointed out that it appears Jason Sudeikis was missing something this season. The theory is out there it's because he used to do so much with you.

Oh, really?

To be fair, it's our job to over-analyze things like this.

[Laughs] Oh, man, I had so much fun with him over the years. We didn't really start working together that much until the final couple years. And, god, we had so much fun together. But, oh my gosh, he is so funny. [Laughs] He doesn't need me! He's amazing.

A couple of times this past season Paul Brittain played a creepy character, and he was immediately compared to your creepy characters. Do you take that as a compliment?

Oh, that's very nice. That's very nice. I guess in my time there I'm kind of thought of as... [Laughing] the guy who played the creepy characters. Or the pedophile. Which I guess was true. No, I take it as huge compliment. But, God, he is so funny. Paul is so funny. But he's creepy in a completely different way. And I mean that in the best possible way. Old creeps will always give way to new creeps. So once Paul has had a wonderful stay on the show, he'll step aside one day and another creep will come in and take his place.

Since you've been gone you've been doing a lot of 30 Rock and Conan. Has that helped fill the void?

Oh, man, I've been having a lot of fun doing Conan. It's a completely different experience because a lot of the stuff that I would do at SNL, I would write with some of my friends or write on my own and you'd be working on it all week. With Conan, I come in a couple hours before the show to do a rehearsal and do it. It's a completely different experience. It does quell a small portion of that performance desire.

I'm fascinated by the sketch that you and Jason Sudeikis did where he plays some sort of Southern-type gentleman interviewing with you for an astronaut job at NASA. Potato chips are also involved. It's quite possibly the most insane sketch I've ever seen on SNL. How does something like that even get created?

I don't know how it came up, but I guess at some point I recorded like a small snippet into my phone -- because I was walking along on the street. I don't even know what led to it, I just kind of talked into my phone in the voice of that NASA guy and said, "I don't want you getting into my potato chips." Just two or three lines of that, which actually made it into the final sketch. And then, one morning, we had been up all night and we had to turn it in; we have an all-nighter on Tuesday, and we had to turn in our stuff Wednesday morning. I don't think I had written anything that week so my buddy John Solomon came in and I played him that little 20-second snippet from my phone and we just went nuts. And Jason had earlier done this kind of Foghorn Leghorn type voice that we loved so much, so we said, "Oh, let's have him come in." I think part of it was just from sheer exhaustion that it went to the crazy places it went. But, yeah, we wrote it up relatively quickly and then it ended up making it into the show.

And then Sudeikis put some awesome touches -- the hemorrhoid doughnut was his idea. And that may be my favorite end to any sketch: the framing of the three of us -- so dramatic at the very end. I don't know if you remember that, but that was his idea, too. A lot of time you'll write stuff that's so crazy that it might not make it, but, thank God, Lorne [Michaels] let us take a chance with this. [Laughs] The bummer was that I had gone so hard in the dress rehearsal that I threw out my voice. The original guy talked like an octave higher. Just that high register was completely gone by the time we did that. It's also a longer version, there's much more back and forth between me and Jason about his desires to be a part of the space program. It's nuts, but Lorne wanted us to get to the potato chip stuff sooner. Rightly so, after you see the dress rehearsal. The bummer is the stuff where we really get going and get into the argument is even more bonkers than the one that actually made it in.

Man... you're making me miss it again. You're making me miss the show again!

I'm sorry. I could tell you were enjoying talking about that...

Oh... no, no. I'll tell you, I mean, it was such a special part of my life. I'll always miss it.

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  • Scraps says:

    I wish SNL would try more of these off the wall sketch ideas. Seems like the show used to do this more often, but got away from it and just tried to hit us over the head with recurring sketches every week. But hey, I love my "What's up wit' dat!?" too...

  • jbj says:

    I don't know about anyone else, but what used to drive me wild about Will Forte sketches, like the potato chip one, was that he had masterful control over his coloring. His characters would turn beet red to purple with excitement, completely on cue, then when the camera was off he'd go back to normal. I would try to convince myself that it was lighting or make-up, some kind of special effect...It really just make his characters so real and irrational and just uncomfortably funny.

  • The Winchester says:

    For the life of me, I still don't get why people didn't see Macgruber. Funniest movie of last year that didn't involve piranhas in three dimensions.
    KFBR392 KFBR392 KFBR392 KFBR392...

  • Nerd says:

    Good lord this makes me miss Will on Saturday nights. Conan and 30 Rock have been great little hold-me-overs, especially Conan cause of all the trademark Forte yelling/turning purple, but it's not enough. We need more Forte in our lives!!!
    I don't think anyone anticipated the void that was left when he exited SNL or how big that void would actually be. It seemed most noticeable with Sudeikis, but looking back at the season everyone knew there was something missing but couldn't necessarily put their finger on it. Although, I certainly wouldn't blame all of the seasons short comings on Will's absence. It was like there was an effort to fill Forte's "weird" void towards the end of the show, by Lorne or whomever, but they never really accomplished that goal, imo, at least not with the consistency that Will had. The most successful of those attempts clearly being Britain's "Sex Ed Vincent" and "Hallmark Mothers Day." I might add Killam's brilliant "Le Junes de Paris" to that list as well. It's probably too early to tell if Paul or even Terran will be able to step into that "weird guy" role, like Will said, with their own kind of weird.
    I hope we will continue to see Will's ridiculously funny smile on TV or the big screen in the future. If NBC was smart they would give him his own show, maybe with another ex-SNLer and a hot chick or something. Any network would be lucky to have a man as talented as him on their airwaves every week. Or how about a Forte/Sudeikis buddy comedy?
    If I could just see Jon Bovi do their beautiful opposite thang one more time I would die a happy man.
    And finally, Will, if you're reading this don't let the MacGruber sales get you down. I can't tell you how many people have just recently seen it on HBO and are quoting lines all damn day. It has cult comedy written all over it. "Just tell me what you want me to fuck!"

  • Charles says:

    Fly high, Duluth!

  • lord-z says:

    SNL movies has burned us too many times, we have become scared of them. Once upon a time, we got Blues Brothers and Wayne's World, but It's Pat, Superstar, Roxbury and Ladies Man etc. has stained the once glorious franchise. Blame whoever throught those sketches would be good movies for the fate of MacGruber.

  • Troy says:

    Great interview. I've been reading all the SNL scorecards for the last season (just found out about it). Do you realize you say at least three and maybe four times that Jay Pharoah finally got to play a non-impression character? Realizing you don't clearly remember the earlier bits of the season sort of delegitimizes the idea that you are some kind of expert on this - but how can you really be blamed? My only suggestion is that next season, whenever you say that something was the 'first' time it happened, write that down on a post-it note and stick it to your monitor.

  • lord-z says:

    It has almost always turned out to be an impression anyway, like Count Blackenstein who was, surprising to us who didn't know what he sounded like, a pretty blatant Bootsy Collins, or the principal, who was actually Pharoahs old principal.

  • Mike Ryan says:

    Lord-Z is correct. Every time I made that deceleration I was proved wrong (until the final show).