Inside ‘Last Man on Earth’ with Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Phil Lord and Chris Miller Interview on The Last Man on Earth
Chris Miller and Phil Lord from Fox’s ‘The Last Man on Earth’ at WonderCon (Photo by Russell Einhorn © FOX BROADCASTING)

Where are all the cars that jam freeways and side streets in most post-apocalyptic shows and films? That was one of the questions I put to Fox’s The Last Man on Earth directors/producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller at the 2015 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA. Lord and Miller were on hand to take questions from fans of the series, and they also took part in a small roundtable interview with a few members of the media in order to delve further behind the scenes of the popular new comedy series.

“It was a very orderly plague,” said Lord when asked about the lack of cars (and the lack of bodies). “We talked a lot about this. First of all, with something kind of eerie about, ‘Oh, it’s just like regular life but there’s no people in it,’ that was just an aesthetic choice. But also, people got the flu and stuff…it’s not like they started coughing and then swerved off the road and crashed into a building and then coughed some more. That was what we talked about.”

“I always imagined it as a flesh and bone-eating virus,” interjected Miller.

“Then it gobbled up all the bodies,” said Lord.

“Because it’s hilarious. Then there’s nothing left. Dust, afterwards,” said Miller.

Miller and Lord said there were a few things in this first season that they couldn’t believe Fox actually allowed them to put into the episodes, including a guy about to commit suicide by crashing full speed into a boulder and threatening animal murder (but not committing it) for a laugh. Phil Lord said, “Turning the hero of the show into the villain of the show for a short time. And, just serializing the show that much where you just don’t know what pattern it’s going to hit, which for us is the dream that you never feel like you’re in this rhythm and you know what happens every single time.”

And touching on that ‘villain’ aspect of Will Forte’s character Phil Miller, producers Lord, Miller, and star/writer Forte did talk about the line of how far they could push the character without losing the support of viewers. “The whole show is the arc of this character and it was always Will’s plan to have him kind of go crazy and have a dark period where he needed to learn a lot of things,” explained Miller. “We’re midway through that journey now of him learning to be a better person. This first season – hopefully there will be more – sort of tells one chapter of the story of Phil Miller.”

“That’s in the first episode at the end, she points a gun at him and says, ‘Are you a nice person?’ He says yes because he doesn’t want to die,” added Lord. “But that was a big theme of the season, and still is. If you take away all of the societal pressure, like the police and stuff, how will people behave? Is this person going to be redeemable? Can he find that moral center in himself? That’s what’s exciting. It’s crazy to do that in a comedy.”

As for how populated the world can become given the show’s title of The Last Man on Earth, Lord and Miller don’t have a set number of new characters that could possibly be introduced into the series. “In theory we could just keep adding people for a thousand episodes,” answered Lord. “I just like that the show surprises you. I honestly don’t have an answer. I’m like those Lost writers, we don’t know how it’s going to end. That’s what’s exciting about it. We were just sitting here going like if we kept making more of these, what would they be like? The possibilities are really broad and open, and I think that’s exciting.”

Watch the complete interview for more on the animals, the cast, what could happen if there is a season two, and if we’ll ever see how the world actually ended:

-By Rebecca Murray

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