Will Forte Of 'Saturday Night Live' Talks To Starpulse
Mike: You were a history major at UCLA. How do you go from a history major to joining the Groundlings to where you're at now?
Will: Well, when I was trying to figure out my major, my dad said, "You know, it doesn't really matter what you major in", I didn't really know what I wanted to do and he said, "just pick something general." I was always a huge history buff. I got out and was working at a brokerage firm and just realized it wasn't for me so I started doing the Groundlings ... And finally it was so depressing going into a job I knew wasn't for me, everyday -- and everyone was really nice there -- but I knew I was not supposed to be doing that for a living.
Mike: How did the Groundlings lead to an interview for Saturday Night Live?
Will: They have scouts that come every once in awhile so I just happened to be there in one of the Groundlings' shows that Lorne Michaels actually came to, personally. At the time I had a writing job at That 70's Show and I loved that job and was under contract and didn't think there was any chance I [would be allowed to] do the job. I was very relaxed and ended up having a pretty good show that night. Got asked to audition and my bosses at That 70's Show were fantastic and let me go audition.
Mike: Was the audition nerve-wracking?
Will: Yes. And the same thing applied, I should have been super relaxed because I already had a job that I loved.
Mike: Do you remember your first sketch?
Will: My first sketch I was in was "Hannibal Lecter at College." It was the Matt Damon episode and all I said was, "Dude, I told you he was gay." I was so nervous, I didn't even think I could get those words out of my mouth.
Mike: Did it take a while to get used to being there? I was backstage for the Tracy Morgan hosted episode and it's really overwhelming, even as a visitor; the best I can describe it is sensory overload.
Will: It takes a long time to get used to. For the first two years I was just petrified and it's really weird to be in a place, now -- and you'll still get anxious when you have a big workload because you want to do it right -- but I'm kind of relaxed now. When I first started I could have never envisioned a scenario in which I was relaxed being on that stage.
Mike: By the way, you were quite nice to me. I was kind of in the way when you walked into the writers' room and you were very polite when you needed me to move so you could get by. Then I was told, "Hey, that was Will Forte," as you ducked down not to get in anyone's way and I was like: "It was? What a polite guy."
Will: (Laughs) That's funny. Thank you very much.
Mike: OK, I have two questions about the character Jeff Montgomery. What's the process like where someone has the idea: "You know what would be funny: A sex offender"?
Will: Well, I actually had nothing to do with it in the beginning. This guy, Colin Jost, who's an awesome writer, he's the guy who came up with that idea and wrote the sketch. I just did it at the table and we actually tried it with Brian Williams in the last show before the strike and it didn't end up making it on the air. Then we did it at the UCB Theater for the strike show and it went pretty well. Lorne was there and I think that put in his head that this could actually work. When Jon Hamm hosted the Halloween show we tried it again and it ended up going pretty well.
Mike: The other question is -- and the only reason I know this is because I went to high school in Kansas City -- any angry letters from former relief ace from the Kansas City Royals, Jeff Montgomery?
Will: Oh, man ... no. I've never gotten any angry letters. Also, it's very possible we have gotten an angry letter and they just never show them to me.
Mike: You were in the first SNL Digital Short, right? "Lettuce"?
Mike: I think a lot of people think "Lazy Sunday" was the first one but "Lettuce" aired the week before. That was a bit of a departure at the time for what SNL does.
Will: I think it was two or three weeks before, but that was such a credit to [Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone] that they just said, "Hey, we're going to borrow somebody's camera. Let's all go do a short film." And it was just [us] out there where Andy and Akiva used to live. Now it's crazy, there's all these people. There's the sound guy, there's a full crew, but back then it was just us doing this thing. We just went to the store and bought a huge bag of lettuce -- (laughs) we were so sick of lettuce that day, we had to eat so much lettuce.
Mike: You were almost Barney Stinson's wingman on How I Met Your Mother. What was that set like?
Will: It was awesome. I actually used to write at Letterman with the two guys who created the show, Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas]. It was so awesome.
Mike: Yeah, they based the bar, McLaren's, on McGee's here in New York because the Letterman writers would go there after shows, right?
Will: Oh, is that right? I didn't know that. I know we all used to go to McGee's. It really was such a great experience. They are a really supportive group, they made you feel right at home. It's a great cast and they're all super close, it reminded me of being here because the cast is very close here.
Mike: One of my favorite characters that you did was George W. Bush. All of a sudden I tuned in one day and Jason Sudeikis was doing it -- who is good, too -- but I really liked yours because it wasn't trying to be like Will Ferrell's and Bush was going through a whiny period at that time. Why did that change?
Will: I don't know, I'm not really sure. I am not a great impersonator and I never did any pushing to get that role. I don't know if I ever felt really comfortable doing it ... I never wanted to see anyone replace [Will Ferrell] as Bush. I think Lorne could tell I didn't love doing it ... I mean I was honored to get to do it but it's just not really my strong suit.
Mike: OK, I've got four reader questions. Do you want to do these?
Will: Sure, sure.
Mike: First one: Favorite sketch you've ever been in?
Will: I would say it's a three way tie. The dancing coach sketch with Peyton Manning.
The spelling bee from the Jack Black episode and probably ... OK, it's a four way tie ... "Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad" is a very fun sketch to do. It's a sketch I do with Kristen Wigg about Model-T Cars, spaceships, toddlers and jars of beer.
The final one I love doing. Jason Sudeikis and I do a Bon Jovi oppisite band called "Jon Bovi" and it is so much fun to do. Those are my top four and I'm sorry for picking four.
Mike: It's quite all right. OK, next one: How much beer did you drink in Beerfest?
Will: That's funny, I was just talking about that with Zac Efron. He had to do a German accent [on that week's show] and I was complimenting his German accent and wished my German accent sounded more German like his and less Chinese.
We drank zero beer. It was a mixture of non-alcoholic beer and Diet Coke; we did drink a lot of fluids, that's for sure. There was supposed to be this tube that sucked down all the beers, it would look like you're drinking it fast and the tubes were just not really working. So, we ended up just drinking a lot of the stuff. I used to be a pretty fast drinker in college so I asked them, "Do you want me to try one when I down the whole thing?" and I beat the tube!
Mike: Wow, congratulations.
Will: I was really proud of myself. We did two takes and I went outside and threw up.
Mike: I'm just going to read this the way it was written: I think Will Forte is hilarious, why are his character four degrees funnier when they have a moustache?
Will: I love moustaches so much! I agree. I think there's something... I feel funnier with a moustache on, usually (laughs). But you're absolutely right! I don't know why that is. I agree, I have got to show that to Lorne. A long time ago he would get bummed out because I would always be wanting to add a moustache. There was one scene where we almost got into a fight; it was still kind of early on and he didn't want me having a moustache on because he wanted people to get to know who I was. And I was like, "No, I want this moustache on!" And it did turn into a little thing. He's awesome; but there was this dumb little moustache fight. And eventually, of course, I'm not going to wear it because he doesn't want me to, but I'm still convinced the sketch would have gone better if I had worn the moustache (laughs). But, now he lets me wear moustaches all the time.
Mike: I thought you were going to reveal the character you were fighting over was Bush having a moustache.
Will: That would've been great. I would have felt more comfortable playing Bush if I had gotten to wear a moustache.
Mike: You should have wrote him a letter requesting that he grow one.
Will: Sir, you would look really good with a moustache.
Mike: Last one: When is the MacGruber movie coming out?
Will: Oh Jeeze ... hmmm
Mike: Is that a serious [non-answer].
Will: Oh, no ... that's not serious. Never.
Mike: One thing about MacGruber: I found it funny that on a Movie Database site, that's on the Internet, that I'm not allowed to mention, you have a credit for Super Bowl XLIII..
Will: (Laughs) Are you serious?
Mike: Yeah, for the MacGruber commercial. So you can always put Super Bowl XLIII on a resume.
Will: I'm looking this up (long pause as Will looked it up online). Oh, that's really funny ... I was in Super Bowl XLIII!
Mike: I'd really play that up if I were you.
Will: (Laughs) I'll start bringing my computer out to bars.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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