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20 Minutes, MACGRUBER!!! Capone has an explosive conversation with Will Forte!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Will Forte doesn't ease off the gas until he's made us laugh, and there's no greater proof of that than the new film MACGRUBER, a hard R-rated feature based on the character that Forte has been playing on "Saturday Night Live" for many years. It's hard to believe Forte has been an SNL player for eight years, while building up quite an impressive resume of TV, film, and animation appearances all the while. Included on that list are features like THE BROTHERS SOLOMON, BABY MAMA, FANBOYS, BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN, and two Broken Lizard films, BEERFEST and THE SLAMMIN' SALMON. He or his voice have appeared in "Clone High," "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," "Sit Down Shut Up," "The Cleveland Show," "American Dad," "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!," "The Flight of the Conchords," "The Life & Times of Tim," and "30 Rock." Like his MACGRUBER co-star Kristen Wiig, Forte is a former member of the Groundlings comedy group. He's got a guy-next-door quality that makes some of the things he's capable of thinking and saying all the more disconcerting and hilarious, but I don't think I've ever seen him cut loose quite like he does in MACGRUBER. Now, exactly when does production begin on that feature debut of The Falconer? Or maybe Jon Bovi? Or Tim Calhoun. Needless to say, Forte is an incredible nice guy who I think was more than a little relieved that the world premiere of MACGRUBER went over so well at the SXSW Film Festival in March. I certainly loved it. Here's MacGruber himself, Will Forte. Enjoy…
Capone: Congratulations on the premiere last night Will Forte: Oh, thank you very much. Capone: I don't think anyone there quite knew what they were in for when they arrived. Will Forte: Oh no, I don't think we did either. Capone: Whose idea was it for MacGruber to get a Twitter account [Grubes69]? Will Forte: [Co-writers] John [Solomon], Jorma [Taccone, who also directed] and I do them together. I'm glad you like it. Capone: They're great. Will Forte: Oh my God, we have the stupidest…I mean, we keep writing down these potential tweets--I feel weird anytime I say tweet, I've got to cut back on the number of times I say tweet. But we've got [laughs] some pretty stupid tweets coming up. See, I've already broken my tweets rule. Oh no, there I go again. Capone: Of all of the characters that you might attempt to bring to a feature-length movie, one that has absolutely no backstory whatsoever doesn't seem like the likely choice. Why was this the guy that got the nod on a film? Will Forte: I don't know. Somebody approached us about doing it, adn we thought they were crazy. I think everyone thought we were crazy for making the movie, including us. But then we sat down, started kicking around ideas, and came up with some stuff that we really loved and it grew from there. But I think the fact that he had no backstory was very liberating for us, because we could make his backstory anything, so we could play around with that. Capone: When you created the character, were there other TV characters outside of "MacGyver" that you based his adventures on. Will Forte: It was a real amalgam of all of the '80s action films that we loved so much. John and I are 39, so all of those movies from the early to late '80s were the ones we grew up on and loved in the way that only a teenager can. Jorma is a little younger than us, but he knew those movies so well. So yeah, it was a real cross section of what we loved about those movies and trying to do our take on those. Capone: When you put on the wig and the vest and look at yourself in the mirror as MacGruber, what are the instinctual thoughts that pop into your head? Will Forte: [laughs] I don't know, but I'll tell you that when I wear those clothes and the wig, I walk differently. Capone: Does that have to do with how tight the pants are? Will Forte: I don't know what it is, but I walk like such a tool. There's no other way to describe it. Capone: At what point did you just decide to go for it in terms of the violence and the language and everything else that made it R rated? Will Forte: That was from the get-go. We decided let's just go for it, and at some point, they'll reign us in and tell us that we can't do this or can't do that. And they never did. We kept waiting for it to happen during the writing of the script or during the filming or the editing. We kept thinking, "Tomorrow, they're going to call is in and make us change everything around." And they never did. They really gave us so much creative freedom; it was an amazing process. Capone: Did you love that feeling that you were getting away with something when you came to work each day? Will Forte: Oh yeah. I'm still waiting for someone to call and say, "Oh yeah, you have to take out this or that." It was such a great experience. Capone: When did you decide to bring it up to modern times rather than leave it where the sketches had been set? Will Forte: To be honest, I don't even know. In my head, the sketches don't even take place in the '80s. We never said that they do take place in the '80s. To me it's always been some guy who for some reason is trapped in that world, but it takes place in the present day. But that's something we never really explained. Capone: To me it always felt like this very short-lived series that someone just found the videotapes in their basement. Will Forte: [laughs] There were a lot of discussion about "When does this take place? Do we need to justify that they're wearing clothes that aren't really of this era?" We did definitely have those discussions since we'd never been forced to tackle that issue on the show. They're so brief, you don't even get into it. Capone: Having Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer in this film is transformative. It goes beyond the one long joke idea; they add a substance to it in a way. Val started in comedy, but Ryan is doing things in this film that he's never done before with a piece of celery. And he was so into the idea of being in a comedy; you could see it on his face during the Q&A. Will Forte: We had the best time making this movie. Having those guys and Powers Boothe grounded the movie so much and gave it credibility. The character I'm playing is such a boob; it was essential to have legitimate actors in those parts. Ryan, I think, probably has the most pivotal role in the movie, and he just does an amazing job of grounding the movie and serving as the eyes of the audience. So he was so good in this movie, and I learned a lot from him and all of those guys. I never thought that I would have a chance to be in a movie with Val Kilmer, like this guy is one of my heroes. I still can’t believe that they agreed to do the movie. I think we all said that all of the time, “Can you believe that we just made a movie with Val Kilmer?” It’s really exciting to get a chance to work with those guys. Capone: I like that the classic MacGruber scenario that we always see on the show, you hold that back until the very end of the film. If it hadn’t been there I probably wouldn’t even have missed it, but as soon as Kristen [Wiig] said “Three minutes MacGruber,” everyone applauded. They knew where it was kind of going from that point. What made you think to do that and not just make the movie a series of moments like that? WF: Well I know that pretty early on we realized “We cannot just make this be a series of explosions and getting trapped in different areas,” so we knew from the very beginning that we wanted the scope of the movie to be a much bigger scope. Then it just kind of naturally evolved, because I think it just felt right to do that at the very end. At the very beginning, it seemed like a placeholder, like “Okay, maybe we will end with this, but maybe we can think of something better.” I’m so happy that we never thought of something better, because it feels really good to end like that. It gives it a nice closure. Capone: It brings it all home. WF: I’m glad you liked it. Capone: I understand this was a really short shooting schedule, and in a lot of comedies there is just loads of unused material that doesn’t make the final cut. Was there much for this film? It seems like you didn’t really have time to throw away scenes. WF: Not a ton. No, every once in a while we would get to do a little improv just depending on the day, if it was the end of the week, and we had not a ton of stuff on a Friday, we could have some fun, but most of the time it was just sticking to the script, because we had no choice. Capone: Did that sort of timeframe and shooting schedule fuel the story? Did it fuel what you were doing and ramp up the adrenaline as it were? WF: It was very exciting. Yeah, I think we just got, because of how tired we were, into this very loopy area, so I think that really affected the way we played it sometimes and went to some weirder areas maybe. Capone: During the sex scene in particular. First of all, apparently it doesn’t take much for you to drop your pants… WF: [laughs] I’m a real pants-dropping slut. Capone: Up until now maybe not so much, but now you are in an R-rated movie, so… WF: My mom is very proud of how much my butt is in this movie! Capone: But the sex scene is disturbing for a couple of reasons, one just because of the noises you are making. WF: Disturbing and educational. Capone: Much like a medical experiment gone wrong. I know you’ve known Kristen for a long time, but I just feel like I don’t care how well you know somebody, a scene like that has just got to be really pushing the boundaries. WF: It was. I’ve known Kristen for a long time and so doing that scene was oddly comfortable. It was physically very uncomfortable, because the room was super hot, I was sweating all over her. By the end, she was just covered in my sweat and chest hair. It was her birthday. I don’t know if she told you that, but it was the worst birthday present of all time, but we have just done so many things, it’s so much fun to do stuff with her, and I think for both of us it was not very uncomfortable. Later I had to do another scene like that with Maya [Rudolph] who I’ve known forever, but she was eight months pregnant at the time, so there were times for different shots that we had a body double for certain angles, because she physically could not do certain things, and we couldn’t get her up there, because she couldn’t do it with her pregnant body. So that was very weird to just have a complete stranger, and I am pretty naked, except for a little sack that I would tie around my genitals and that wasn’t even that uncomfortable, but we had already done the Kristen thing, so I was like “Okay, I’ve done this. Whatever let’s just do it.” [Laughs] Capone: She said the kissing scene was more uncomfortable for her than the sex scene because if was more intimate. WF: That really hurts me. [Both Laugh] WF: The kisses are more real, like the sex is just fun over the top, but with the kissing, we weren’t trying to go for anything silly. We were trying to actually kiss legitimately, so yeah I would agree with that actually. It’s weird. I did this show called "Clone High" a long time ago, and I remember one of the most uncomfortable things I ever had to do was just make kissing noises, like make-out noises, and it was so weird to do that on my own and just be sitting there. I felt like I was being judged, my kissing sounds were being judged. It was very weird. It’s very interesting what your brain gets nervous about, because most people would think “Oh, you’re just making kissing sounds in a microphone? Big deal.” For some reason, that was really uncomfortable for me. Capone: You have to think about what you sound like kissing people. WF: It’s unbelievable that I’m running around naked all over the place in this movie, and I’ve got no problem with that, but yeah making a couple kissing sounds… Capone: On SNL, you embody this sort of old-school, sketch comedy style, where there are a few sketches you have done just repeating words until they become funny. The one that comes to mind that floored me this season was the sketch you did when Blake Lively was on, the potato chip sketch is just you guys saying that word a hundred different ways. When Jorma [Taccone] last night said that you had the ability to say the same line a hundred different ways, that’s what came to mind. That’s something that you do really well on the show, just saying it a different way each time to the point where it just makes your mind hurt, but that potato chip sketch, I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh. It cracked me up. WF: Thank you very much. John [Solomon] and I wrote the potato chip sketch. I couldn’t believe they let us do it. We had the best time. It’s such a weird sketch, there were probably a lot of people who hated that, but oh man we had a great time doing it and Jason Sedakis had these--you know that final dramatic shot that seemed like a Tennessee Williams play, with me in the foreground and Blake right behind me and Jason in the window with his hemorrhoid doughnut? Capone: Yes. WF: He had that made into a Playbill. [Both Laugh] WF: What a dumb sketch, but we were so happy that they let us to it. Capone: And they aren’t like characters you would ever bring back, just this one little perfect sketch. WF: Man, I’m glad you liked it. Capone: In the SATURDAY NIGHT documentary that’s showing you here, they show you with Malkovich doing that Empire Carpet thing where you are just saying “Again! Again!” You just keep pounding and pounding until you can’t help but laugh at it, so anyway I think we are done here. I’m getting into some fanboy territory. WF: Oh no, I love it. Capone: I met Bill Hader last year at this festival, and he is a huge film geek. Are you kind of that same way? WF: Not really. He is a movie encyclopedia, as is Jorma, Akiva [Schaffer], Andy [Samberg], and all of those guys. I go through periods were I watch everything out there, and I’ll go through months and months where I don’t see a single movie, but I also have a very bad memory, so I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I don’t remember anything. Capone: I have that way with the ends of movies. I don’t remember how any movie ends. WF: That’s good then, you can re-watch everything. You do remember how THE SIXTH SENSE ends, right? Capone: Yes, I do. Stuff like that I remember, but just the regular ending of a movie, because so many movies have predictable endings that my mind kind of finishes them for me, and I actually don’t remember how it plays out in the actual movies sometimes unless I anticipated the ending wrong. That I remember. Anyway, it was really great to meet you. WF: Oh, thank you very much. I really appreciate it and I’m glad you liked it. Capone: Good luck with it. WF: It was good to talk to you. Capone: Thanks a lot.
-- Capone Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • May 18, 2010, 6:39 a.m. CST

    At least it's not as creepy at the Wiig one..

    by Obnoxious_Username

    But you really liked that sex scene, huh?

  • May 18, 2010, 6:40 a.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

    Of course I'll see it.

  • May 18, 2010, 6:56 a.m. CST

    ANOTHER 30 Second Skit Blown Up Into A 90 Minute Movie??

    by LaserPants

    Really?? Has that EVER turned out good? Arguably Blues Brothers, although that hasn't aged well. But aside from that, are there any others? None that I know of. It's like they want to burn money. Maybe there's a tax loop hole ala Uwe Boll'c "career"? Must be.

  • May 18, 2010, 6:59 a.m. CST


    by Flint420

    Seriously. This guy IS NOT funny. This spoof isn't even relevent. He is one, of the many, reasons I stopped watchin' SNL

  • May 18, 2010, 7:31 a.m. CST

    Fuck MacGruber. I want MacGuyver

    by vadakinX

    And I don't mean a reboot movie with Sam Worthington playing MacGuyver. I mean Wrath of Khan that bitch. Bring back Richard Dean Anderson and have him be a retired agent who's called into action one last time to take down an old enemy from the show. Make it personal. Give MacGuyver a reason to come out of retirement. If you want to throw in some Hollywood new boy then fine, have him be the reluctant partner or something. <p> We don't need to do a Charlies Angels or an A-Team with whole new casts, just bring back RDA and roll with it. It worked for Star Trek II, so why not this? Fuck a parody, give us the real thing.

  • May 18, 2010, 7:40 a.m. CST

    MacGruber is a poor spoof, period. The character

    by MainGrid

    is a bit of an asshole, a boob and unlikeable, whereas MacGuyver was genuine, nice guy, and brilliant.

  • May 18, 2010, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Cue the "SNL hasn't been funny for year...."

    by Dolphisgod

    Followed by "that's why I stopped watching it after Murry/Meyers/Carvey/Murphey/Ferrell left." The skit is a one joke skit, but the trailer makes the movie look pretty awesome.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:06 a.m. CST

    This is going to be awesomely ridiculous

    by double_ball_hanger

    Also, Capone, you come off as a jump out of the bushes rapist quite a bit of the time.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:07 a.m. CST

    FUCK Darth Busey, FUCK LaserPants, FUCK Flint420, FUCK vadakinX,

    by CHUDfucker


  • May 18, 2010, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Please quit supporting this garbage

    by ChrisTuckersOnlyFan

    Those of you who buy tickets to this crap are making the world a worse place.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:39 a.m. CST

    I'm a semi-professional actor

    by BobParr

    Forte's appearances in FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS and 30 ROCK were the only times I found him funny.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards...

    by wampa 1

    ...that came up with this one?

  • May 18, 2010, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Greg Stink

    by Doctor_Strangepork

    The best color man in the business.

  • May 18, 2010, 9:42 a.m. CST

    In my opinion forte is the current SNL's best player

    by Bathman

    Wigg and Hader are also stars, but forte is just great in any sketch, his freak out in the potato chips sketch is one of the funniest things i have ever seen. MacGruber will be different from the other SNL films due largly to the fac that the sketch on the show is basically a one liner, theres no back story or real character development, meaning that the movie is free to do whatever it wants with the character<P>forte was also pretty funny in slammin' salmon which is a movie more people should be checking out if they want a good laugh

  • May 18, 2010, 9:52 a.m. CST

    I'm a quasi-professional actor

    by monolithik

    And I've found him funny in damn near anything he's been in... yes, even Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! But not Brothers Solomon. What the fuck WAS that?

  • May 18, 2010, 10:06 a.m. CST

    I've never acted in my life

    by vin_diggler

    and yet I still find Forte funny. Guess it shows actors should not dictate what we should find funny or not.

  • May 18, 2010, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Please put a Spoiler Alert on this

    by skoolbus

    I had to stop reading, man.

  • May 18, 2010, 10:18 a.m. CST

    I'm a quasi-amateur actor

    by I_shot_Cyrus

    Bill Hader is way better. Forte is hit and miss. Hell Will Arnett is consistently more funny.

  • May 18, 2010, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Get ready for this century's "It's Pat!"

    by The_Maltese_Vulcan

    I would not watch this if it was for free.

  • May 18, 2010, 11:18 a.m. CST

    I'm a famous film and television actor and...

    by Sailor Rip should all eat more green vegetables.

  • May 18, 2010, 11:19 a.m. CST


    by soup74

    have you seen Richard Dean Anderson lately? he was on a series of the macgruber skits as macgruber's father... let's just say i dont think we're going to be seeing him in any action movies any time soon.

  • May 18, 2010, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Forte isn't hilarious...


    but he's a hell of a lot funnier than Sudeikis. That guy has terrible comedic timing and he half-yells every single line. Awful.

  • May 18, 2010, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Hopefully the movie is better than the interview

    by JoeSixPack

    Capone: "I did this with [name] and I am so proud of myself because I rock." Forte: "Well making a movie is hard."

  • May 18, 2010, 11:57 a.m. CST

    I wet my pants again...

    by DrGoodspeed

    I need some new pants. Well just have a bunch of them ready for me. I need a bunch of dry pants. Get me a towel too please. Yeah, now!

  • May 18, 2010, 12:06 p.m. CST

    i miss Clone High...awesome show.

    by Bouncy X

  • May 18, 2010, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Seeing Kritin Wiig get plowed is oddly intrigueing

    by RETURN_of_FETT

  • May 18, 2010, 12:44 p.m. CST

    "I'm a semi-professional actor"....

    by seanny_d

    That was a quote from Forte's character in Flight of the Conchords. Not someone trying to use their actor status to validate their opinion of Forte's humor.

  • May 18, 2010, 1:08 p.m. CST


    by BobParr

    That is so funny that people think I was validating my opinion with a "Semi-Professional Actor" status. On that episode he used the business card from the drycleaner he worked at and wrote in "Actor" in pen.

  • May 18, 2010, 1:11 p.m. CST

    How is "not having a backstory" different than other SNL films?

    by RETURN_of_FETT

    Did Ladies Man have a backstory? Did the Night at the Roxbury guys have a backstory? Has there ever, EVER in the history of SNL films been one based on a 2 minute sketch loaded with fucking BACKSTORY? I mean, fucking christ people!

  • May 18, 2010, 1:32 p.m. CST


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  • May 18, 2010, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Actually go see this..than SNL will make 15 more shitty movies l

    by EddieMurphysLaugh

    and hopefully go off the air.

  • May 18, 2010, 2:16 p.m. CST

    Will Forte Is My Current Favorite SNL Cast Member

    by DutchRudder

    And I think they have a great cast. Macgruber is going to rock!

  • May 18, 2010, 2:19 p.m. CST

    Model T Cars, Spaceships, Jars Of Beer, And Toddlers

    by DutchRudder

    Thats all I have to say about that.

  • May 18, 2010, 2:31 p.m. CST

    89% on Rottentomatoes

    by smackfu

    Sorry, sad little haters, but no matter how much you want this film to fail, we're hearing nothing but good things about it.

  • May 18, 2010, 2:33 p.m. CST

    If there is something funny in this movie...

    by RETURN_of_FETT

    I wish they'd put it in the fucking trailers because so far they're portraying unfunny retardation.

  • May 18, 2010, 3:08 p.m. CST

    SNL SUCKS. Could this movie actually be good?

    by Mennen

  • May 18, 2010, 3:09 p.m. CST

    How come the trailers aren't funny?

    by Mennen

  • May 18, 2010, 3:18 p.m. CST


    by Aquatarkusman

    Take my $10.50, and here's a little something extra for Lorne Michaels. God bless you, sir! You certainly haven't deadened the comedy landscape over the last 20 years!

  • May 18, 2010, 3:31 p.m. CST

    I want this movie to bomb so badly...

    by UnApatowzing

    I literally wake up in the morning thinking, "I want MacGruber to bomb."

  • May 18, 2010, 3:44 p.m. CST

    I think I'd rather get a phone call

    by The_Closet_Nerd

    from my doctor telling me "yes, you DO have ball cancer," than ever again hear the phrase "Will Forte has a new movie coming out."

  • May 18, 2010, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Wait..Wiig gets plowed?

    by EddieMurphysLaugh

  • May 18, 2010, 3:50 p.m. CST

    ossed to be good for an hour and a half????????

    by boxking

  • May 18, 2010, 3:50 p.m. CST

    ossed to be good for an hour and a half????????

    by boxking

  • May 18, 2010, 4:08 p.m. CST

    I don't have time to read most of your crap.

    by double_ball_hanger

    So if you read this and you don't like MacGruber, I don't want to know you.

  • May 18, 2010, 6:33 p.m. CST

    SNL is so overrated.

    by moonlightdrive

    Most of the time it is NOT funny.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:33 p.m. CST

    That was totally creepy Capone

    by Jaka

    Eh. Not really. Another good interview. All the actors seem very happy with it and excited that it's coming out. Caught Ryan Phillippe on Jimmy Kimmel and dude seemed genuinely happy to be talking about the movie. S'cool.

  • May 18, 2010, 8:35 p.m. CST

    I don't think SNL is overrated anymore

    by Jaka

    Because it's not considered the end all be all of comedy anymore. It's just a nice, reliable sketch comedy show that consistently turns out writers and actors. It's often watchable, sometimes really funny, but I don't know anybody who thinks it's like, the best thing on tv anymore.

  • May 18, 2010, 11:59 p.m. CST

    The Potato Chip Thief...

    by RosemarysBabyDaddy one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time, thanks for bringing it up in your interview, Capone. Forte has been a pretty reliable SNL cast member, here's hoping he'll stick with the show for a few more years

  • May 19, 2010, 12:10 a.m. CST

    R-rated SNL movie?

    by Lucky_Day

    I'm so there. Forte is the most talented of the male SNL crew imo.

  • May 19, 2010, 12:44 a.m. CST

    Forte is the likeable comedian that you laugh at his jokes cause

    by I_shot_Cyrus

  • May 19, 2010, 4:07 a.m. CST

    I'm not an actor, but...

    by Master Bruce

    I play one on TV, and I still think today's SNL sucks it big-time.

  • May 19, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Total Waste of Money

    by hatespeech

    I'll stay home and watch Pound Puppies