'Last Man on Earth' star January Jones on that big twist
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday’s episode of The Last Man on Earth.
It turns out, Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal) is not the last woman on earth. During Sunday’s episode of The Last Man on Earth, another woman made her way to Tucson: Melissa, portrayed by Mad Men star January Jones.
Viewers had long known Jones had been cast on the series, but executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have been keeping everyone’s roles under wraps to preserve the surprise of seeing another living human being. That surprise came at an unfortunate time for Phil Miller (Will Forte), who had just married and started to bond with Carol before literally crashing into Melissa’s limo. No, this is not a dream sequence, Melissa is real—and EW has the exclusive interview with Jones about her new gig.
EW: We only saw Melissa for a brief moment at the end of the episode. What can you tell us about her?
JANUARY JONES: She’s craving humans, as they all are. She’s craving interaction. She’s so relieved there are other people. She likes Carol right away and becomes friends with her pretty fast and trusts her. She’s more wary of Phil because he does some oddball things, obviously. She thinks they’re very peculiar people, but she’s just so happy to see people that she doesn’t care. They’re not unsafe! She’s just a cool chick. She’s witty and dry, but she’s sweet and comes from a good family. There are lots of different twists and turns that I can’t talk about yet.
Are we going to get a sense of where she’s been for the last two years?
I can’t say if you see it, but definitely in the next episode you see them talking about what they’ve been doing and who they are. You see more of their personalities and their pasts.
I have to imagine that Phil is pretty frustrated that he’s just married this annoying woman and then this beautiful lady comes along. Is it fair to describe this as the most awkward final love triangle left on earth?
Yeah. I don’t know if it’s a love triangle. It’s maybe a one-sided love triangle. [Laughs] I can’t say anything about that.
We’ve seen Will Forte get to do a lot of fun stuff on the show, like smashing pretty much everything he can get his hands on. What’s something that you’ve really loved doing on this show?
I just like working with Will and Kristen, and there are other cast members, too. Trying to keep a straight face while working with these two, they purposefully try to make each other crack. They go to extreme lengths and say the most bizarre things that’s off book, I’m caught in the crossfire and I burst into tears crying. It’s very unprofessional of them. [Laughs] I’ve gotten to do some really silly things too that I can’t talk about. I’m the queen of doing TV shows that I can’t talk about. I get to do a lot of crazy stuff, too. It’s been a blast going to work. It’s a nice schedule for a half hour comedy. It’s just perfect. It’s exactly what I needed.
What about Last Man on Earth made you want it to be your first post-Mad Men project?
I didn’t have a plan or anything, but it just fell organically and perfectly into what the next step for me should be. I loved the script. I laughed out loud. Will is a friend of mine, I admire Kristen, and I wanted to work with Lord and Miller. I didn’t want to do another TV show right away, but it was just too good to pass up. It’s so completely different that it can only be good—unless it isn’t. If it was really bad, then it would’ve just been something really fun for me to do, but I think people are really enjoying it.
After all these years of being on a drama, were you itching to do something funny?
Yeah. I started my career in comedy. That’s what I always gravitate towards. My interest would spark to those first, but there hasn’t been a lot of great comedies. I don’t really enjoy slapstick; I veer towards more the dark comedy or dry. I wasn’t finding any characters worth doing in between. When this came along, it literally happened in two days. I read the script, I went in the next day, got the offer that night and started work on Friday. It was so fast. I didn’t really have any time to process what I was doing. I made the same decision with Mad Men. It’s sort of a gamble. You’re signing these big, extensive contracts that potentially span five to seven years, and you don’t know where your character is going to go. I’ve just always followed my gut. Mad Men turned out great, and hopefully this will too. I don’t expect it to be the same sort of experience. It’s different. It’s been a sigh of relief to go to work and laugh all day instead of something so heavy. I’m having a blast. We just wrapped, so I’m kind of sad. We wrapped last week. Having to say goodbye and not knowing if you’re going to get picked up again, I feel like I just did that with Mad Men. I’m so sick of saying goodbye to people! [Laughs] Hopefully it goes well.
Check out the new cast shot, which will be updated each time a new cast member is added:
The Last Man on Earth airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox. Check out an exclusive sneak peek at next week’s episode below: