SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot details from Sunday’s season 3 premiere of The Last Man on Earth.
Oops, they dead it again. That’s twice now that The Last Man on Earth has shocked us by sneaking a big-deal Hollywood actor into an episode only to kill him off within seconds before the surprise of seeing him in the show had even worn off. Yes, one year after Carol (Kristen Schaal) jumped out as Gail (Mary Steenburgen) and the gang were exchanging verses of Snow’s “Informer” and scared an innocent-looking fellow named Gordon (played by Will Ferrell) so bad that he had a heart attack and died, we received a Hammeo to remember in the season 3 premiere of Fox’s post-apocalyptic comedy.
The episode opened with government conspiracy nut Pat (Mark Boone Junior) and two fellow hazmat-suited individuals making their way from shore into the house, where Phil (Will Forte) and his friends freaked out in all directions before electing to hide. After a Mr. T keychain gave away their presence, our survivors engaged in a standoff with the guns-drawn trio, and when one of these strangers suddenly turned toward the increasingly cold-blooded Melissa (January Jones), she reflexively unloaded a shotgun blast into his chest. His cohort, Lewis, removed his fallen friend’s helmet which revealed the face of dramatic actor turned comedy pop-up king Jon Hamm.
“We weren’t going to shoot you — we come in peace,” sputtered the man identified as Darrell. “We come in… peace.” And then… he died. Yes, Betty Draper, no stranger to a shotgun, shot her ex, Don. As if one Mad Men alum killing another wasn’t enough, we also received a mini-Sons of Anarchy reunion: Lewis was played by Boone’s former costar Kenneth Choi.
The gang decided to take in the surviving duo of Pat and Lewis, even though everyone but Tandy had doubts about Pat, which were confirmed by Lewis, who, by the way, is a surgeon — a tree surgeon. Pat did try to turn over a new leaf (and he even made some cool jeans for Phil and Gail), but he snapped when Pat saw a picture of his old frenemy Mike (Jason Sudeikis) in Phil’s house. “Your Mike is my Mike,” Pat growled to Tandy and his disturbing press-on eyebrows. “The Mikes have become one. You lied! So you could infect me with the virus!” Things took a turn for the worse as Pat whipped out his gun and asked Tandy if he’d like a bullet in the head or heart after he shot off his balls (which, by the way, is always a place you should aim, along with the throat, eyes, and butt). Luckily the gun jammed, giving Phil & Co. time to run outside to the A-Team van and speed off. Pat was waiting for them in the driveway, however, and fired a bullet through the windshield. Todd (Mel Rodriguez) kept his foot on the gas and ran Pat right over with the van before screaming, “Oh my god! I think I killed him!”
Let’s try to remain cume as a calmcumber and ask Last Man creator/exec producer/star Forte a few questions about the premiere — and what’s next —in hopes that he’ll sing like a Doobie Brother.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats. You got us again. How did you come up with the idea for the Hazmat Hammeo? Was the Mad Men connection too good to pass up? And did January help make it happen?
WILL FORTE: It honestly had nothing to do with the Mad Men connection. [Laughs] He hosted SNL a couple times while [former SNL writer and current Last Man co-executive producer] John Solomon and I were there, and we were lucky enough to get some [sketches on the air] so we got to know him a little bit. Just over the years we’ve kept in touch. He’s always up for little things like this. I had my beard tested for bacteria last season [on The Tonight Show] so I asked him and Rachel Dratch to come out and be my friends who helped me through the results. So I called him up just to see if he had any interest. Hadn’t really even thought about the Mad Men connection, oddly enough. He said it sounded like fun, and I told our writers and they said, “It’s so crazy that Betty’s going to shoot Don!” and I was like, “Oh! That’s right! Oh s—!” [Laughs] We were just so busy working on stuff, my brain is always at about half-mast.
What was his reaction when you pitched him the idea of killing him immediately?
Oh, I think if we hadn’t killed him immediately, he probably wouldn’t have done it. For something like that, when it’s a very small thing, we always try to get somebody real fun because it’s such a relatively small time commitment. So we thought with this one, we might be able to find somebody really fun and we did. I was so happy that he agreed to do it.
Did we have any requests about how he wanted to die? And how did the shoot go, literally?
He’s wonderful in that he just wants you to be happy with whatever you want. He’s like, “Okay, this is your thing. Tell me how you see it.” I’m not trying to say he doesn’t have wonderful ideas to make thing better, but he just really embraces the idea. Then again, I only come to him when it’s an idea I think is pretty solid and fun, so maybe it’s a different situation when you have a stinker of an idea, and he helps you fix it. He’s wonderful. I can’t say enough. It was so much fun… He’s just a really cool guy and bums around the set. There’s a number of people that he knows in our cast and crew, so it was just really fun having him around for the afternoon.
What did January say when you pitched her the idea? What was her first reaction?
Oh, she was excited. She saw the Mad Men connection right away.
Have you ever stopped and imagined an alternate universe where your show’s stars included Will Ferrell and Jon Hamm?
We still see Will Ferrell’s face pop up from time to time, whenever we’re back at the gravesites, and there are little pictures around the house — we don’t hit it too hard but it’s really fun. He was so cool to agree to be involved in this show. Because that guy has got some options, I’ll tell you.
Once again, you teased. You tantalized. You tempted. And then you took it away.
It’s better to have loved than lost than to have never loved at all. I’m so excited for them to be part of the history of the show now. The cast that we have I love working with, but then to have Sudeikis have been able to come in for as long as he did — that’s another thing that was really awesome. Because he’s just so wonderful and talented. That’s another guy who’s got a million things he could be doing all the time, so the fact that we got to have him for so many [episodes] was an amazing experience.
So, moving forward, is the idea that we will see more of the biggest stars in Hollywood for a few seconds — and then they’ll die?
I mean, I think we’ll always want to kill big stars if we can. My goal is to keep stars living. That was a really fun thing about having Sudeikis stick around. This is an amazingly talented, big star that we got to actually have for more than 20 seconds. But god, if you get an opportunity to have Will Ferrell or Jon Hamm on your show, you figure out whatever it takes to get them. But it was not, “Oh, let’s get Will Ferrell on the show.” We had this idea for the joke and that is I think why they agreed to do it. They appreciated the joke. We’ll never work something in just to try to get an actor in.
Speaking of Jason Sudeikis and Mike, what odds would you give that we will see him at one point or another this season?
Very, very low odds. But we love making low-odds choices from time to time.
NEXT: Will Lewis stick around?[pagebreak]
You also reunited two actors from Sons of Anarchy. Sheer coincidence? And how did you choose Kenneth for this role?
That was a total coincidence, at least on my part. I’ve heard that is an amazing show. That’s one that I haven’t been able to watch yet, just because I’ve been super busy, but now that I’ve worked with these two people that I love, and they’re friggin’ super talented and interesting actors, I really want to watch it. It’s like, “What’s in the water on that Sons of Anarchy set?” … We were just looking to try to see who this other hazmat person was, and along the way we ran into [Choi]. And I didn’t realize how many places I had already seen him. He was Judge Ito in People v. O.J. Simpson, and did such an amazing job there. He was in The Wolf of Wolf Street, and he was great in that too, so I was like, “Oh! Geez! I’ve seen this guy in a million things!” It helped us to have another wonderful actor. I think we were interested in having a more diverse cast. There were a ton of things that went into it. But we were just really excited because he’s a great actor.
It appears that Lewis has joined the group. Are there any tree emergencies that will require his services?
That was a joke that we were going back and forth on. In one thing he was going to be a tree surgeon. He was a surgeon for trees, which is how it ended up. And the other one was he had a Ph.D in French poetry, so he was a doctor. And they cut him off. And he’s like, “No, no, no — of French poetry.” We shot it both ways and were like, “Ah, let’s just make him a tree surgeon!”
So, is he sticking around for awhile?
He might stick around a little bit. We have just a big group of knuckleheads, and I am for sure the lead knucklehead, but because the rest of the other people just kind of go with it, they’re knuckleheads by proxy. [Laughs] He seems the most clearheaded about what’s going on. With me being the leader of the group, he kind of fills that role that the other Phil Miller [Boris Kodjoe] did for a time, just questioning why everybody is listening to a word that I say. So he helps with that, but also delivers it in a completely unique different way. He’s a really good actor. It’s fun to watch him go.
Pat took quite a beating from the A-Team van, getting spit out on the other side. What can you hint about his fate?
I love watching him get run over by that van… That’s one you’ve just to got to watch. You never know. Episode 2 deals with that whole situation in great detail. In almost too much detail. People will probably hate the amount of detail. [Laughs]
If he doesn’t make it, will Phil take over his jean art empire?
Thank you for reminding me of this because there is a jeans-related idea that I always have and then forget about, so you’ve reminded me again I’ve got to bring it up again to the writers. We did talk about that — that’s funny you say that. There has been so much more discussion about jean art in our [writers’] room than basically anything else. Clinton versus Trump, we have no idea. But when it comes to jean art, that’s all we can talk about. We’re very well-versed. We’re watching the debates on Monday with bated breath because we really have to get filled in because we’ve been talking about jean art so much. I’m sure they both have very clearly defined policies, though, right?
You’ve shown us the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and now the A-Team van. Will Phil procure any more famous Hollywood cars?
There will, down the road, be the most kickass road trip you’ve ever seen. And yes, the A-Team van will be involved. Our road trip caravan shot is for sure the coolest caravan shot you’ve ever seen.
What’s one cryptic clue you can give us about the next episode — or a looming event on the horizon?
Multiple deaths… but not multiple die-ers. How’s that?
UPDATE: Fox has released a clip of Hamm’s scene, which you can see below.