Vulture Festival L.A. is being held at the Hollywood Roosevelt November 18 and 19. Tickets are available for Good One podcast live with special guest Paul Feig and the Clone High reunion, in which Will Forte is participating.
The legend goes that audiences in the 1920s found Charlie Chaplin’s dinner roll scene so funny that they’d make the projectionist stop the film and play it again. A similar thing happened to me the first time I saw MacGruber. Two thirds of the way through the movie, the film has a extremely stupid, hilarious sex scene that is followed by another sex scene that’s even more stupid and more hilarious. And I couldn’t believe it. I had to watch again. In the Apatowian 21st century where sex scenes seemingly are only used for comedy, nothing tops MacGruber.
This scene is the subject of this week’s episode of Good One, Vulture’s podcast about jokes and those who tell them. In the conversation, Will Forte discusses how both shoots were disgusting and uncomfortable in their own special ways. He also gives the most definitive answer yet that a second MacGruber will happen. Listen to the episode and read an excerpt from the talk below. Tune in to Good One every Monday on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Were the sex scenes in the original draft?
They were in the original draft. We knew Maya was going to be Casey and we had the idea for her getting blown up at our wedding, and we knew there had to be this tension between Kristen and I that suddenly blossomed. And I had an idea that I wanted to do those gross orgasm sounds. I had done this show called Campus Ladies with my friends from Groundlings, Christen Sussin and Carrie Aizley and they had an orgasm scene in there, so they said, “Make the dumbest noises,” and I did that. I asked if it was okay for me to steal from that, and they said it was totally cool.
The opening credits note that MacGruber is a skilled lover. Are we supposed to believe he’s good at sex?
In the beginning scene where you first find me in the monastery, we wanted to pan around the room, but it was our second day of shooting and we couldn’t get it in time. There was this painting — that’s now in my living room — of me with the tiniest, tiny penis. A self-portrait that MacGruber did. That was supposed to be part of it! He’s good and bad all at the same time. He’s probably very, very bad, but just the perfect amount of bad for Vicki.
What was shooting the Kristen scene like?
We were in Albuquerque and it was the middle of August. It was the upstairs of the house, and you can’t have the air conditioner on for sound reasons. Also, they had a bunch of lights they were trying to use to light it properly, so it was double hot in there. In that kind of situation, if I start making any kind of movement, I’m a sweaty person, so I just start to sweat. I could hold it together if I was just sitting around, but with this, it was one or two thrusts and I was immediately lathered in sweat. I felt so bad for her because there was no place to go! She’s pinned beneath me! It was her birthday, by the way. When we were going through editing, there were so many takes with these huge beads of sweat, like if King Kong was sweating on her. She would just get pelted with them and between every take there’d just be sweaty pieces of hair all over her! Since it was her birthday, they sent her off to Santa Fe for the weekend and got her a nice spa package.
What do you remember from shooting the scene with Maya?
A lot of interesting stuff went down in that cemetery that night. Number one, Maya Rudolph was maybe eight-and-a-half-months pregnant, so I’m just thrusting into this baby bump! I feel so bad for that child. There were certain positions that were very hard for a pregnant woman, so we had, for some of the really wide shots, a body double. It’s very weird to be naked when there’s just a little coin purse over your penis and testicles. And it’s weird to be thrusting into one of your longtime friends! It’s also weird to be thrusting into a complete stranger. And then it’s also weird to be thrusting into the open air!
Oh, and there was a point before we started where I turned around and saw Lorne with a camera trying to take a picture. I don’t know when it was, but whenever we were doing press, I asked Lorne’s assistant if she would send me the picture he took so I could tell the story about turning around and seeing him trying to take a picture of me naked. She sent me like, 20 pictures! He likes my body! What can I say?
In comedy, you shoot more than you can use. Was there a much longer version of this? Were there different parts than what ended up onscreen?
There were probably lines we cut. I’m always the guy pushing for the super-long version, so it was a real negotiation between the three of us, just trying to figure out what the right length should be. It would always be measured in pumps. We couldn’t stop talking about pumps. I even feel like after test screenings, I’d be like, “Maybe we should remove two pumps.” It wouldn’t be one pump. It was a rhythm thing. So it was always adding two pumps, or taking away two pumps. I’ve never used the word “pumps” so many times!
Were there any other debates about what should be kept in or taken out between the three of you?
The main fight that we had in editing was something that happens at the end of the cemetery scene. I grab my stuff and she’s like, “Go to Casey, tell her how you feel,” and then I say, “Casey, one more thing,” and she’s gone. During all the test screenings, we would just have me go, “Thanks!” which I like as well. But I did a take we always wanted to try out, and for some reason, Jorma kept “forgetting” to put it in. At this point, we were back in production at SNL, so he was still doing the final editing and we couldn’t be in there like we used to be. We kept getting mad at him because we wanted him to try it. The thing was just, “Casey, one more thing…” and then I turn around and she’s gone, and then I have a little smile and I go, “Smell ya later!” It was so loving, but he thought it sounded disrespectful. I was like, “No, I’m saying it to a person I very obviously love!” It was the closest we came to a fight, and obviously it was a playful fight.
The original draft was famously at least 177 pages. You were probably just like, “Let’s write this funny scene and figure it out later.” Do you remember anything that was cut?
Yes. There’s a scene where, if we ever do a second one, we might do. He goes to see his dad and finds out that his name was actually MacGruder, with a D. He’s like, “I’ve been telling everybody my name is “MacGruber!” So, the rest of the movie we’d have people going “MacGruber!” “No, it’s MacGruder. It’s a long story.” At the end, we even actually got takes where, after the final explosion when I go, “Classic MacGruber,” we did do a “Classic MacGruder — oh, MacGruber, MacGruber, with a B.”
Speaking of a sequel, I know you started working on a script in some capacity. Would it still be an action parody or would you put MacGruber in a different situation?
God. It would probably be similar but we have talked about, “Do we just pattern it after Mr. Holland’s Opus this time?” Really, we would be making this movie not because of popular demand. We’re making this movie because we loved spending time with each other and it’s fun. So it’s really like, “What makes us laugh?” That was the thing about the first one. Not saying a lot of people liked it, but the people who did like it knew it was because it was not compromised in any way. They let us do whatever we wanted to, essentially. We’d want that same situation where we could really just go bonkers.
Are there any conversations about where or how you’d actually get the movie made? Or is it like, “We want to make this thing and we’ll figure that out once we get there?”
There are situations. This movie could get made. If we can write a script, this movie will get made. It is my opinion. Though, I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, so what do I know?