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This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
More than a dozen sweaty bodies are crammed inside a tiny apartment in desertlike Chatsworth, Calif., on an uncomfortably hot August afternoon. In the 1970s, such a scenario would have signified something quite different — the town, located 27 miles northeast of Hollywood, was once a porn-industry hub. Today’s activities, however, are decidedly more chaste as the cast and crew of Fox’s The Last Man on Earth dig into filming its second season, set to premiere Sept. 27. The scene has series protagonist Phil Miller (creator-showrunner-star Will Forte) and his ex-wife, Carol (Kristen Schaal), visiting the apartment she left behind in Delaware, before her journey west following the as-yet-unexplained decimation of (nearly) everyone on Earth. (Think: a funny, zombie-free Walking Dead.)
Schaal and Forte wind their way down a spiral staircase into Carol’s old bedroom — maniacally appointed with handmade arts and crafts. The episode’s director, John Solomon, muffles a laugh while watching Forte — and his wildly bearded face — offer a serious appraisal of the room’s decor.
It’s a scene, like each in the series, that’s totally Forte. The Saturday Night Live veteran says he’s “always done pretty weird things, but they didn’t always connect.” Enter his friends of 17 years, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street franchises), whose goal, says Miller, “was to get Will’s comedy voice on TV.” They succeeded — and nabbed three Emmy nominations (lead comedy actor, writing and directing). And Lord says there’s a bonus: “We get to work in Chatsworth, where it’s always 100 degrees.”
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