“He’s such an idiot”: Will Forte celebrate the Glorious Return to ‘MacGruber?”

MacGruber spent 15 years in special operations, and was an inept agent. SometimesWill Forte saves the day. He attempted to brutally eliminate his enemies using Q-tips, rubber bands and a stalk celery stuck in his keister. So it’s a bit alarming to see the 51-year-old actor and comedian brandish a jar of smelling salts before he even says hello. He claims it’s a gift. He is the one who makes people unconscious.

“It’s not something I like to do,”Forte jokes. “Every once in a while when you’re forced to do it. Or you’re just cruising through your day and you need a little pep.”

Forte could have been more heroic in the key of Dwayne “The Rock”Johnson’s words may seem comforting. But MacGruber is a moron, albeit a delightfully vile moron who’s managed to survive a treacherous path from fan-favorite Saturday Night LiveSkit on legendary SaturdayNight Livemovie bomb. When the feature-length MacGruber Comedy became the lowest-grossing film. SNL film of all time, failure wounded Forte like one of his character’s throat-rips. Fans loved it. A decade later, Forte’s enterprising hero is victorious and receives his limited series on Peacock. The premiere airs on December 16th. Today, Forte’s peppy enough to keep his smelling salts sealed as he talks about outlasting catastrophes that would have killed off anyone else.

I’ll admit, I’ve read too much into MacGruber over the years. I was tempted to believe that he was so confident because he faked his death in 1999, and thus avoided the trauma of serving in the government during the 9/11 attacks.
Oh, wow. You went deep.

I assume I’m not the only one. I’ve heard Christopher Nolan is a MacGruber fan.
Yeah. He is so annoying. We constantly pester him. MacGruber — or something like you can tell when he’s in a good mood because he talks about MacGruber. We seized that piece of information by automatically going in our heads. “Oh, it’s his favorite movie that he’s ever seen. We have to invite him to direct one.” Jorma [Taccone, who co-wrote and co-directed the series] just is constantly inviting him to do stuff…and he’s politely turned stuff down. But even just knowing that he watched the movie and didn’t hate it was a big win for us.

The movie was released in 2010 and seemed to be a fun, dumb action movie parody. You said that in an interview you gave at the time: “That’s America. MacGruber is you and MacGruber is me.” Which made the film begin to look to me like a gag about America’s blundering swagger during the Bush years. Where does an overconfident egomaniac like him fit into today’s conversations?
This was our love letter from the 1980s action movies we grew up watching. All of that stuff that you just mentioned was reflected in the character because it was part of those Eighties movies that we were basing the character on…

Which inspired the tough talk that some of today’s politicians have based their careers on…
…And are the tropes that we would use. Where does MacGruber fit into today’s conversation? He’s just 10 years older. He’s been in jail the whole time so he’s probably read some enlightening books that he doesn’t quite understand. And then he gets let out of prison to do a suicide mission and he’s just rekindling all the old relationships that he had. He hasn’t really grown much.

He’s in prison because of what he did to Val Kilmer in the first movie. It’s pretty rare that an action movie hero faces a consequence for the giant bloodbath at the end of a film.
It’s pretty rare that AnyoneThese days, there is a consequence. It was a disaster years ago, when the movie was finished. It’s tough after that happens because you start to question yourself, you lose faith in the decisions you had made, and you find a bunch of stuff spinning around in the your head for a couple weeks. John is then able to see the good in you. [Solomon, cowriter of the movie] and Jorma and I called each other, and realized that we were all really proud of what we’d done. We really Liked the movie and wouldn’t have made any changes. It’s much easier to go through a box office failure when you likedThe movie.

Those first few weeks when the movie didn’t perform, though — what was your coping strategy?
I was a newbie to the world of successful events. I was on Saturday Night Live and that’s a dream job, but that did not live or die because I was on the show. This was directly attributable more to me. I made the mistake of getting excited about the movie. You start thinking. “Maybe this time will be different, maybe someone will go check it out.”Unfun things happen when reality sets in. I was, first of all, kicking myself. “Oh, why did I ever get my hopes up?”I thought that I had learned this lesson. I was also quite open to trying new things. I did that celery scene.My family was embarrassed by a lot of the things that were there. It caused my mom to lose friends. So you’re like, “Was it worth it to subject my family to all this stuff?”It was hard to justify.

Your mom lost friends?
Oh, yeah. My mom is such a wonderful woman. She’s very delightful and very supportive, so she will have her friends go see whatever. There were also a few friends she lost. To me, I think that’s a good thing for her. If people are going to drop you because your son says some dirty things…

Good riddance, Carol.
Get out of this place! But still. It was also a strange collection of thoughts that were going through my head at the moment. I realized it was time to leave. SNL. I’d just turned 40. I wasn’t married yet. I just didn’t know what my life was going to be like. And after the movie came out, there was no indication that I’d actually get an acting job again. I just lived for a while, and then settled down at home. It was a period of uncertainty.

But then you do Alexander Payne’s NebraskaGo through the entire awards cycle. It was headlines like: “Look how far MacGruber has come!”However, I do remember you seeing me across the Paramount parking lot after a fancy. Nebraskaevent, and you were getting into this really beat up car. I’m not saying the car was literally missing doorhandles and had empty soda cups spilling out of the windows, but it felt like it did.
It was a hybrid, as you all know. A Honda Civic hybrid from the early days. And I was like, I’m just going to ride this thing until it breaks down.

Your family is solid, financially, and emotionally. You were very close to becoming a financial analyst thanks to your dad. When you decided to make comedy, you were just one step away from becoming stockbroker. These were the darkest days of your post-graduation years.MacGruberDo you ever wonder if you have made the wrong decision?
Never ever ever ever.The moment I first visited the Groundlings, it was clear that this was the path I wanted. There are certainly times when you’re on that path when you have setbacks and you’re questioning yourself. This made me happy. And that’s why I never questioned it. The plan was to try to see if I could get supporting roles in comedy movies, and without the help of friends I wouldn’t have been able to even do that. Then, I get the opportunity to be in something much more dramatic. It was just out of nowhere, and I’m eternally grateful. With my mom and her close friends, I was able to regain some credit. Which I’m obliterating again with the new MacGruber series.

Is it possible to eat celery in public? Can anyone ever say anything?
I’ve got no problem eating celery in front of people. It’s funny, the day that we did that in the movie, they put a robe around you in between takes. You don’t want the crew to be uncomfortable with some naked dude walking around — and also for my comfort. When we were doing another take, I’d have to disrobe again and get the celery lodged between my legs. It was not InThe actual butt looked almost like it. I’m doing all these very delicate procedures to get ready for the thing, and there was some guy back there who would chat me up a little bit. I thought he was part the security team. Later I discovered that he was just an ordinary guy who had collected all the used celeries. I don’t know what he did with them. He may have just thrown them away. I don’t know much about this man, except that he had collected the celeries we used and I often wonder (a), what he was doing with them? What did he do with the celery?

Make a lot of Bloody Marys. You can mount them on the wall with wooden plaques.
He looked like a decent guy. He didn’t seem so sketchy that I’d ask somebody who he was. He seemed a little strange. He could have found a legitimate use for celery. You never know what you might find.

Name one use you can make of your used celery. He had a hungry goat at home, so he watched movies to keep it alive.
Here you are! Now you can name one. It seems plausible. There are many farms around Albuquerque.

MACGRUBER -- Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Kristen Wiig as Vicki St. Elmo, Will Forte as MacGruber, Ryan Phillippe as Dixon Piper -- (Photo by: Peacock)

Kristen Wiig in the new ‘MacGruber’ series.


Kristen Wiig (Kristen Philippe), Ryan Philippe, Jorma Tamone, John Solomon have all reunited for the TV series. It’s kind of action movie-esque — you’re all doing one more heist that involves getting paid to make MacGruber jokes. Let us know how you make a gag. What’s the sweet spot between stupid and smart?
We’re never really going into the too-smart area. You’re constantly walking that line. We’ll catch ourselves going, “Okay, MacGruber is stupid, but is he that stupid?” For instance, one of those things — it made us laugh, so we left it in — is when he spells his name wrong when he’s getting out of prison. All of us went. “Is this too crazy? Eh, fuck it. Let’s do it. It’s our show.”We will do anything that makes us smile, or makes us laugh. Unless it’s stupid to the point where it might take you out of the story.

It’s funny because there are times where he’s such an idiot, but there are also times when he says things that are way smarter than anything that MacGruber should know. There are times when he can’t fight at all and he’s terrified, or times when he’s the most heroic figure and he’ll do whatever he needs to take people down. It’s almost like people are just going with it. All we have is MacGruber pingponging around the place.

He seems like a character who couldn’t be farther apart from you. The number one thing people say about you is that you’re a nice guy.
Oh, that’s nice!

It is! Even though it feels like “nice guy”has been taken as a compliment.
That compliment will be accepted by me. MacGruber is certainly a violent person. I am not. We get quite violent. But there are times I’m a frigging dickhead for sure. My wife is worth a conversation. She’ll fill you in. I’m a MacGruber-level dipshit. Unfortunately, the character on screen is often not far from me. The character is, in essence, on The Last Man on EarthMacGruber can’t swear. At a certain point I have to realize, “Oh, maybe this isn’t just a character that I’m comfortable playing. I might have a true element of that character within me. That is something I’m aware of — that I’m working on.

Many thanks to The Last Man on the Earth, you’ve survived both a fake pandemic and now, a real pandemic. Is it possible to remain optimistic?
I’m in a place in my life where I’ve never been happier. I got married. It is wonderful to have this baby. It helps you to live a more selfless life. When you wake them up, there’s this smile on their face when they see you and you think, “What if she could just be this happy all the time?” And then I think about how somebody’s going to break her heart one day and she’ll be super sad. You think about all the pain everyone goes through and I don’t want that to happen for her. You think about all the crazy shit that’s happening in this country right now. You know, I’m 51 so if things keep heading in this weird direction, I’ll probably be an old man by the time stuff gets really grim. But she won’t be. There are a lot of things in the future that her whole generation will have to contend with if our generation doesn’t make better decisions. Climate stuff. Democracy. Voting rights

I don’t believe people will give up on the amazing things this country has to offer. But, I have faith and optimism. We can only hope that we have more positive thinking. It seems like there’s a lot of amazing people out there fighting the good fight.

Are you a MacGruber dad?
Everyone should grow mushrooms at least once in their lifetime. If they choose to, everyone should be a parent. This gives you a sense of community with other people. All these connections are made in your brain. There aren’t a lot of experiences like that in the world. Now, I feel like a shithead that I’m equating the two.

Are you a dad and have you noticed a change in your comedy?
I’ve certainly wondered what she’ll think of what I’m doing now when she’s old enough to watch this stuff. Because I can’t stop her from watching it forever, so I’m keeping track in my head that, “This is something that my daughter will lose a little respect for me when she sees it — but this one she’ll probably like.” I’m cataloguing it. But I’m not making any changes.

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