Survival of the Wittiest: Joel McHale Talks to Will Forte About Beard Smells and the End of the World

The Last Man on Earth
Jeff Riedel
The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth star Will Forte opens up to Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) about living with Val Kilmer, giving his beard the smell test, and breaking stuff.

So I’ve thought a lot about these questions. When you were asked to play the voice of Batman in The Lego Movie, how thrilled were you?

Actually, I played Abraham Lincoln in that movie! So you’re starting off from a place of lack of information, and I’m hoping your questions get better.

Greg Peters/©Universal/Everett Collection

OK, here’s one: Did Val Kilmer really live in your house during the filming of MacGruber?

It was after MacGruber. He was moving and he was going to be in between places for what I thought was a couple of days, so he said, “Can I stay with you while I figure things out?” It ended up being three months, and it was the best three months of my life. To get to be roommates with Val Kilmer was something I wish everybody could experience.

It’s pretty crazy. When you watch Top Gun, you never think, “That guy’s going to be my roommate one day.”

I kept thinking back to The Doors. One morning he was sitting at the dining room table, listening to music on his computer. I came in and was doing stuff on the other side of the table and the Doors song “L.A. Woman” came on, so we just started singing “L.A. Woman” together. It was a real crazy moment of “Oh my God, the 20-year-old Will Forte would never believe this.” Actually, the 42-year-old Will Forte wasn’t believing it.

In your new show, The Last Man on Earth, you play literally the last man on Earth after a deadly virus hits. This show is my favorite comedy of the past few years by 10 miles. No joke. It just filled me with rage and jealousy because it’s so perfect.

[Laughs] Thank you so much. That’s the best compliment you can hear, because I feel that all the time toward other people, so I’m happy somebody is dealing that my way for once.

I know that everyone is talking about your beard. Is that all real? Because if it is, then I am not a real man.

It’s 100 percent real. I never knew I had it in me. We discussed doing a fake beard, but fake beards just suck. You’ve got a ton of glue all over your face, and the glue starts coming off. It was so much easier to just do the real thing. But it was a real facial adventure. It took about six months to give it its full heft, and not a lot of people would get that experience–to live life for a while with that monstrosity on their face. Have you ever had a full beard?

The Last Man on Earth
Jordin Althaus/FOX

I had a full beard for a play. I needed to use shampoo because it would smell. It was horrifying.

Oh yeah. Mine got to the length where I could do a smell check because I could lift it up to my nose. It’s so hard to eat, and you have to have friends around you at all times to let you know when you’ve got a bunch of crap in your beard.

Are you going to trim it now?

Something happens in the show at some point that leads me to get rid of my beard. I don’t want to say more than that.

I’m going to assume it’s because you burped a lot.

[Laughs] Yes, exactly. We knew that spoilers would come out!

And your costar Kristen Schaal–she’s horrible to work with, right?

As a person and as an actor, she is the worst.

OK, I just wanted to confirm that. And her performance is poor. It’s rough.

Yes. It’s going to get a lot of people talking about how bad she is. [Laughs] No, everything is the exact opposite, Joel. She is dynamite. She’s so funny and so good and just the best, most delightful person to be working with every day. She’s magical.

But she had no nice things to say about you.

Well, I was very hard on her. I play the tough-love game.

The Last Man on Earth
Jordin Althaus/FOX

There is that male fantasy of “If I could just do anything I wanted all the time” that you’re capitalizing on greatly in this show.

We have several women on our writing staff, and it’s interesting to hear the male and female versions of what you would do if you were the last person on Earth. Women wouldn’t break much stuff. They would go to a luxury spa or a chardonnay factory. What’s the first thing you would do?

I would eat everything I could find. I would break into a Ferrari dealership. I would do what you did with those two cars in the premiere: smash them together to blow them up. And then eventually, I would spend a month trying to do the same thing with two freight trains.

Oh my God, I never thought about that! That’s good, because in case we were ever to get a second season, we could catalog things that we didn’t think of for the first. But the train thing we could never make happen, because that’s a little out of our budget.

Just the simple way you don’t open doors on the show but instead shoot them with a gun is so fun. That is exactly what I would do.

Yeah, and there’d probably be a lot more shooting if it was actually me, too. There’s something about breaking windows that is really, really fun. It’s obviously frowned upon in society.

But there is no society, so who cares?

There is no society anymore in this show, so he can do whatever the heck he wants to do. [Laughs]

Has Tim Allen contacted you thinking that you were remaking Last Man Standing?

That is probably the most common thing I hear about the show: people getting it mixed up with Last Man Standing. My mom does that all the time. Actually, people working on this show do that still. [Laughs]

But if they think it’s Last Man Standing and that’s why they’re tuning in, who cares, right?

Yeah, as long as I know they’re talking about the right show, I don’t care what they call it. People call me Will Arnett all the time, and I don’t think they actually think I’m Will Arnett. They say something nice, then they call me Will Arnett, and that’s totally fine.

I always thought you were Laurence Fishburne.

I’ll take that also. I’ll take any of them.

The Last Man on Earth, Sundays, 9:30/8:30c, Fox