Will Forte‘s The Last Man on Earth is a show which seems like it would be the perfect quirky Netflix show. However, it’s not only on television, but it’s on broadcast cable network Fox. Even more surprisingly, it’s a hit. A comedy about the last man on earth searching for other survivors might not seem like everyone’s type of humor, but between Forte’s comedy and the chemistry among the show’s limited cast, The Last Man on Earth is winning over audiences. Forte spoke to Vulture about casting two of the main characters and spoke about what it’s like being in charge of everything about a show.
Though the title of the show is “The Last Man on Earth”, Forte’s character Phil has discovered that there is at least one other man on earth: Todd, portrayed by Mel Rodriguez, who is essentially better than Phil in every conceivable way. Forte notes that casting Rodriguez was an easy decision. He says, “We had general ideas of how we wanted to introduce characters into the show, and for the most part, stuck to that. There are some small changes, but for the most part, we stuck to the basic structure we had mapped out. Mel [Rodriguez] I had worked with before, he came into audition and was just perfect.”
Forte also says that casting January Jones to play Melissa, one of the two last women on earth, was also somewhat easy. He explains, “The Melissa character was somewhat trickier to cast. I don’t know, the casting process for a network show is interesting. There’s lots of people with so much say, lots of different ways to go. And then at the last minute January Jones came in and did this amazing audition, so it became a no-brainer.”
Since Forte created the show and is executive producer, he points out that he never had this much creative freedom when working on his previous TV shows. He says, “I never had this kind of control over the shows I worked on before. I would pitch jokes and write the occasional script, but never got to plot the whole course of a show like this.” However, he also adds that it is a tremendous workload, adding “It is the craziest amount of work. I had no idea what I was signing up for. Like, clothing decisions? I shouldn’t be trusted with clothing decisions. ‘What color should this wall be?’ I don’t know, what color do people usually pick for walls? Every decision seems like the biggest deal, and it’s like,oh, gosh, I have to think about wall color? And I’m an overthinker, so I just drive myself crazy. And then when a big decision comes, oh … it was just a complete body and mind shutdown. I’m just hoping we get to do a second season so we can learn from our mistakes and have the same amount of fun we did in the first season, but just with less … mental torture. [Laughs.] It’s been the best experience, but man, I need a little vacation.”