While growing up in Moraga and Lafayette, Will Forte honed his comic chops by repeat-watching The Jerk and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Forte followed the template set by those classics in his own career as a comic actor on Saturday Night Live and in films such as MacGruber, Nebraska, and Booksmart.
These days, Forte is a good friend to binge-watchers everywhere. Kids will love his new Netflix cartoon The Willoughbys and the upcoming Scooby-Doo reboot Scoob! Older audiences will appreciate Flipped, Forte’s satire of home renovation shows, while his series The Last Man on Earth provides welcome laughs during a worldwide pandemic.
Diablo sat down with Forte when he was in town to promote Extra Ordinary, a funny and charming Irish comedy in which Forte plays a man who has made a deal with the devil to promote his music career.
Q: Every time we talk, you have a totally different project to talk about. Even so, I wouldn’t have predicted a supernatural romantic comedy set in Ireland.
A: This movie fell into my lap. I had just finished season four of The Last Man on Earth and was waiting to hear if we were going to come back for a fifth season. In the hiatus period I was going to visit Ireland. A couple of weeks before I was planning to go, this script showed up, and I fell in love with it. So, not only did I have my vacation paid for, but I got to do a movie I’m proud of.
Q: This film has a fun take on paranormal activity, treating it like it might be coming from a nagging spouse. Are you a believer in the supernatural?
A: I certainly don’t dismiss it right away. It’s fun to think about that kind of stuff. I do believe that there are people with supernatural powers. I also believe that most of the people who claim to have those kinds of powers are frauds.
Q: You recently made A Futile and Stupid Gesture, in which you played Doug Kenney, one of the creators of National Lampoon magazine and Animal House. What was it like to play someone who was so brilliant, but also very troubled?
A: The thing that called out to me about the project was that this guy was at the epicenter of many of the things that made me want to go comedy in the first place, and I didn’t know anything about him. It was fascinating to learn more about him. And the part about [Kenney dealing with depression] felt right at home. Going into comedy is equal parts pleasure and pain.
Q: Your 2010 film MacGruber disappeared at the box office, but has now become a comedy classic. How did it feel to go through that disappointment, only to be redeemed in time?
A: It taught me that you are never going to be able to control who goes to see a movie; all you can control is what’s on the screen. If you do something that you’re proud of, the rest doesn’t matter. The big bummer would have been if we tried to make a movie that tried to draw in as many people as possible and made decisions to make it mainstream.
Q: You’re voicing Shaggy in the new Scooby-Doo movie. What was it like to inhabit a character you grew up watching on Saturday mornings?
A: It was an honor to be asked, but it was also pretty terrifying. This is an iconic character who you know people care for very much. You don’t want to let them down. Then again, I am the guy who had to do George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live after Will Ferrell stopped doing him. You’re never going to win over every person who can’t see anyone but Will Ferrell doing George W. Bush. In fact, I’m one of those people. So you just do your best. It turned out to be a delight.