Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Will Forte Discusses Space, Aliens, And Absurdist Comedy - Exclusive Interview

What is a kid to do when his parents disappear without a trace, seemingly kidnapped by extraterrestrials in the wake of a comet passing Earth? If you're Calvin in "Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out," you devote your entire waking life to preparing so that the next time that comet swings by our part of the galaxy, you're ready to hop aboard a UFO for a family reunion. This quirky children's comedy features up-and-coming teen stars Emma Tremblay and Jacob Buster in the lead roles, while the rest of the adult cast is rounded out by industry stalwarts, including Will Forte, who plays Calvin's missing father.

Forte, whose career began on "Saturday Night Live" back in 2002, has made a name for himself as one of the most interesting voices working in comedy today. Starring in projects as varied as "The Last Man on Earth," "MacGruber," and "Nebraska," he has continually blended surrealist comedy with emotionally resonant drama. Over the course of his career, Forte has earned five Primetime Emmy nominations, both as a writer and a performer.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Will Forte discussed his experiences working on the film "Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out," as well as his childhood fascination with space and thoughts about alien encounters.

Signing onto the project, sight unseen

How did you first get involved with this project? What was it that initially drew you to it when you read the script?

I said yes to doing it before I even read the script. Jake [von Wagoner], the guy who directed the movie, I met. He was a PA on the movie "Don Verdean" here in Utah 10 years ago or something like that. About five years after that, we had not kept in touch or anything, and it just so happened I went to do a job for BYUtv for this show called "Show Offs," which is an improv show. I met Jake, who was acting in that. He's this very talented improviser, so we had a great time doing that.

A couple years later, I went and did "Studio C" — also for BYUtv — and worked with Jake again on that. He told me about this while we were working on that. I already had become pretty good friends with him, and I was like, "Yeah, count me in." When I read the script, it was like, "Great, I said yes to this awesome, very cute script." 

He's a really funny guy. I'm so used to doing very absurd and usually very dirty stuff. He has this awesome way to do things that are a clean version with a fun type of absurdity that's just as funny but clean. I have not figured out how to do that yet, but he has. I love the guy. He's got a very unique sense of humor, and the fact that he's able to do it while being able to do stuff that even kids could watch ... It still has a very fun and interesting and adult type of humor, but adult complex humor, not adult dirty. When you say "adult," usually you go, "Oh, adult means dirty," but you know what I mean.

It's not talking down to its audience. It feels like it's a good gateway to that kind of surrealist comedy that's really fun.

As usual, there was a way more concise way to put what I just said, but I found a way to turn it into a five-minute thing that could have been answered in two sentences.

A childhood love of space

I have a lot of space questions. When you were a kid growing up, on a scale of one to 10 — 10 being Calvin in this movie — would you have considered yourself an astronomy kid? Did you go through a space phase?

Oh, I definitely did. I was born in 1970, so when "Star Wars" came out, I was six or seven years old. My parents took me — I don't remember if it was the opening weekend. But as a kid, you don't know when something opens; you just know when you're sitting in a theater. The moment I saw that, it took over my life. I forget all the names of ... all the doodles I had were of X-Wing fighters and TIE fighters. I loved it. Then, seeing "E.T." a couple years later, I did go through a space phase for sure.

Oddly, years later in the '90s, I wasn't one of those people who was in line for that when "Star Wars" returned. For some reason, I went into other stuff. But early on when I was a kid, I was all over it. I would still say I have a healthy fascination with space.

Do you believe in aliens?

Somebody asked me this a while ago. The best way to put it is I would be more surprised to find out that there are not aliens out there — with how huge the universe is — than to find out there are aliens. Who the heck knows? But it would be surprising with how huge the universe is to find out that we're the only life forms.

Working out the details of an alien encounter

Let's say there are aliens. If you could pick one of your movies or TV shows to transmit into space or someone out there to bear witness to the human race, which would you pick?

Oh, man, let's see ... God, that's a hard one. Certainly, I don't think "MacGruber" would do them any good. But I'm realizing I've been in a bunch of weird movies. I don't know — maybe something like "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" or "The Lego Movie," although those are animated.

They would be shocked to come to Earth and realize we were actually people and not cartoons.

That's true. It's weird. Now I can't remember anything that I've [done] ... If it was a TV show, maybe I'd say "[The] Last Man on Earth." I'd show them that, the pilot of "The Last Man on Earth."

Under what circumstances, if any, would you be cool with being abducted by an alien?

If they said, "We are going to abduct you and we're going to abduct everybody in the human race. Everyone's going to come hang out on this other planet for a while, and we're going to go down and we'll clean up your planet. We'll put solar panels on all houses." Help us get off fossil fuels. Not to wade into a political [discussion] ... but it would be nice to somehow figure out this climate change situation. If it was like, "Okay, we're not going to hurt anybody. We're just going to help your planet a little bit," that would be a very nice thing for aliens to do.

I thought initially, "Oh, if they were going to harm the planet, but they were saving me," but then I felt like that was pretty selfish. Something where they're saving everybody would be my number one. You'd also get to experience this other planet for a while ... it'd be fun!

"Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out" is premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. A release date has not yet been announced.

This interview has been edited for clarity.