To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it's been for actor . Three years ago, after leaving SNL and his first starring role in MacGruber completely tanking at the box office, his career was going nowhere fast.
Fast forward to 2013, and he's never been hotter. He's getting great reviews for Run and Jump, a surprisingly serious turn for the comedic actor which will be made its debut at Tribeca this past weekend, and his new film, Nebraska, is premiering at Cannes next month. Not too shabby for a dude who was questioning his career just a few years ago.
First up, yeah, your eyes are not deceiving you, that's him in a serious, dramatic role. And it was a bit scary for him as an actor:
Oh, yeah. It's so different than anything I've ever done. I don't think people would ever expect me to do this kind of role in this kind of movie. So it's very exciting to have been given a chance to do it...It was a very scary experience to go into it. Because it was just so different than anything I'd done. At the same time, there were several things that made me more comfortable. [Director Steph Green] is a great director and she had a lot of confidence in me, and that made me feel more comfortable. The fact that it was so far away -- we shot it in Ireland -- that made me feel more comfortable. What else? Oh, I had a beard. There was something about having a beard ...
And on the kookiness of him being in not one, but two critically-acclaimed dramas in the same year, how did that happen?:
All I know is that my agent said, "Would you like to put yourself on tape for this Nebraska movie?" And I don't think Alexander Payne had gone to her and said, "I want Will Forte to put himself on tape." But through working with him, now I know that he will look at everybody's tapes. He looks at everything. As unlikely as the person might be for a certain role, he watches everyone.
So I put myself on tape and sent it in, and I didn't hear anything for maybe four months. And I just thought that they found somebody else. Then I had heard he liked the tape and wanted me to come in and audition in person. So I went in and met with him and read through the scenes, and I found out a month later. And it was just a dream come true. I never thought I'd get a chance to work with somebody like him.
But lest you think he's left his love of comedy behind for good, let him reassure you how proud he was to have made the first MacGruber, box office bomb or not:
We were so proud of that movie. It was a hard experience because we made a movie we were really excited about and proud of, and it's hard when it doesn't do well at the box office to not second guess yourself a little bit. But you get a little further away from it and the pain of the box office woes kind of disappear, and you're left with this pride in the movie. And we were so happy with how it turned out, and it's like, "You know what? Then they're crazy if they don't like it." It's hard not to tie your feelings to the box office results, but ultimately you can live with a box office failure if you're proud of the movie.
The main thing that bummed us out about it not doing well at the box office is just that it meant not a lot of people went to see it. So we were very happy when it started coming out on TV and people would get a chance to see it. I mean, it's definitely not a movie for everyone. But for the people that we made it for, hopefully they responded to it. And we felt like more people got to see it and we were happy. More people getting to see it meant a lot of people hated it also. [Laughs] Some people really like it; some people really hate it. But that's kind of how we made it: not to appeal to everyone, for sure.
So, you know, about those MacGruber sequel rumors from a few weeks ago...
I said like one comment in an interview that was all about other stuff. Do we want to make a second MacGruber? Yes. We do. And we talk about it a lot. We get together and we throw around ideas. We've got a structure for it. But it's out of our hands to an extent. So we're trying to put ourselves in a position to make it. If somebody lets us make it, we will be delighted...absolutely it's not a done deal. But we are hoping they let us make a second one...I mean, it was such a fun experience. We are going to find some way to make some form of MacGruber 2. That's our hope. Is it definitely going to happen? No way.
So there you have it. Do they want it to happen? You betcha. But is it definitely in the works? Not so much.
In any case, you can read more of the lengthy interview with the incredibly humble Forte right here. I feel like a Kickstarter campaign is just bound to happen, at this point.