In the season 2 finale of Fox’s The Last Man on Earth, which played at Awardsline’s Emmy Screening Series, we see that Will Forte’s Phil and his friends aren’t alone as two mysterious snipers in Hazmat suits led by Mark Boone Junior’s Pat Brown, target the group.
And while creator/star Forte remained mum about any season 3 story lines (he just returned to the writers’ room days ago), the series stars Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mary Steenburgen and Cleopatra Coleman pitched the names of dream guests they’d love to see behind those Hazmat masks.
“Tom Hanks. Hillary Clinton,” Jones offered.
“Maybe give Bernie a job! He wants to work,” Schaal joked, then added, “I’m always game for a little Beyonce in the show—maybe just two Beyonces.”
As problematic as these mystery men may be, Schaal’s Carol and Coleman’s Erica are set to give birth next season, developments that should prove difficult without the trappings of a functioning—or even existing—society. Per Forte, family issues were a hot topic for debate among the show’s female writers. “Two women were saying, ‘There’s no way, in this type of society, would I ever have a kid. And the other two were like, ‘Well, you have to produce offspring to keep mankind going,'” explained the Saturday Night Live alum.
And then there’s childbirth itself — without medical professionals around, just how will this go down? “I’m out of this,” 63 year-old Steenburgen quipped, leaving Schaal to hysterically deliver a brief history lesson. “If I may — back in the day, before society became a little more advanced, women would just go in the fields, get on all fours, and just shoot the baby out. They’d take the baby out and be like, ‘It’s done,’ said the Daily Show correspondent. “Then King Henry VIII comes along, and he’s intimidated by this. He’s like, ‘No, no! I want to see it!’ So all of a sudden, women are on their backs, pushing out the baby in a very unnatural way, for the men to see it happen,” added Schaal.
“I’m hoping,” she continues, “in this show, we’ll all go out into a field, squat, and get it done.”
“….But who is going to deliver the baby?” Forte deadpanned.
Forte discussed the genesis of the series in his decades-long friendship with director-producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Last year, The Last Man on Earth earned four Emmy noms for Forte as comedy lead actor/writer, Lord and Miller as director and single camera comedy editing. “They gave me my first job on Clone High in ’98 or ‘99. They had a deal with 20th, and asked me if I wanted to write something. So I came originally thinking I was just going to write something for them,” Forte explained. “All of us brought out these old notebooks that we had sitting around in our closets for years, and we just went through every idea we ever had.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Schaal interjected. “This might not be important, but it might be. Were they, like, spiral notebooks?” Spiral notebooks, indeed.
Combing through their notes, Forte, Lord and Miller came upon the Last Man on Earth concept, but briefly set it aside, gravitating toward an even stranger idea. “Val Kilmer used to live with me for like three months, and so we were going to write something about that,” Forte said. At the last second, as Miller was putting on his jacket and readying himself to leave, something struck them, and they came back around. “We just had a more grounded take on [Last Man]. I mean, it’s obviously absurd in many ways, and not completely a realistic show, but there was something about handling that idea in a grounded way that suddenly, ideas started flowing out,” said Forte.
In regards to Forte’s inspiration for The Last Man on Earth, Forte pointed to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, as well as History Channel’s Life After People. With 28 Days, Forte was affected by the image of an empty world, and a man walking alone through the streets of London. In the History Channel series, Forte found an extensively researched meditation on what would happen to the world if humans were to suddenly disappear. “The power would all leave after a year, except the Hoover Dam would keep supplying Las Vegas with power; and after two years, that’s gone. And then, flowers. Stuff like that was fascinating. So that was a weird influence,” he shared.
Though Forte gave great thought to the origins of the project, there was plenty of interplay with the rest of the cast, with much of the attention centering around Oscar winner Steenburgen and her bizarre, delicious Season 2 arc. “Besides the chardonnay, putting that to one side, I lost my lover, Will Ferrell — who used to be my son in a previous film,” she notes, to huge laughter from the crowd. “Dressed up a CPR dummy to look like Will Ferrell and made out with him. Studied some medical training. Was called upon to do an appendectomy, really didn’t want to do it, for good reason — killed a guy. Drank a little more, and saw UFOs,” regaled Steenburgen about the season 2 highlights of her character Gail Klosterman.
However, her biggest takeaway from last season was when she got to rap, and following the Awardsline screening, she was called upon to perform an impromptu recitation of Canadian reggae musician Snow’s Informer.
“You know say Daddy Snow me, I’m gonna blame/A licky boom-boom down,” she rapped, bringing the house down.