Kristen Schaal on Beckett, Bros and Being the First Woman of The Last Man on Earth
As far as premises go, the hit Fox show Last Man on Earth is at once extremely straightforward and bleak. The titular last man is a Phil, played by Will Forte. And the last woman on Earth---at least at the beginning of the season---is Carol, played by comedian Kristen Schaal. With a distinctive voice, which you’ll probably recognize from Bob’s Burgers (or, if you’re like me, as Trixie the Tricerotops in Toy Story 3), and a deadpan demeanor (honed from years of stand up as well as a role on cult comedy show Flight of the Conchords), Schaal’s Carol is at once grating and extremely endearing. Here she sits down with InStyle to chat about the show and how first impressions of a character, aren't everything.
InStyle: What strikes me about Last Man on Earth is how dark the premise is. Humanity is gone. Only a handful remain, who can’t really stand each other. There aren’t even zombies.
Kristen Schaal: When I read the pilot, it was so existential and so beautiful, The moments in which Phil [Will Forte] is coping with being alone in the world, and how he is dealing with being cut off from all of humanity, I’ve never seen done before on television. There’s something so captivated and beautiful and sad.
The set up reminds me of that Sartre play, No Exit, where four people are stuck in a room together for eternity and drive each other nuts. That’s where the famous line, L’enfer, c’est les autres [Hell is other people] comes from.
When there’s no one else in the world, it really is like a giant room with no escape. I love the comparison to that play. I’ve always imagined Waiting for Godot by Beckett. In the world we live in, Phil and Carol would have nothing to do with each other. There is something quite fun about being stuck in a room with no exit with people you’d never know otherwise. Nevertheless, Carol and Phil do need each other in the end. That’s what the meaning of life is: having people to share it with.
Is it a challenge to play a character that is so clearly obnoxious in many ways?
This show is unique and I think the characters are so human. True, she’s a little bit cringe-worthy but also incredibly relatable.
It’s true. I was in the locker room the other day and I overheard two bros talking about Carol. One guy said, “Bro, I can’t stand her!” and the other guy replied, “Nah, bro. Just keep watching. She’s really great!” What’s it like working with such a small cast? Thus far we’ve really only met your character, Will Forte, January Jones and Mel Rodriguez.
I love it. You get more attention and you get more lines which is fun. Because there aren’t any extras, it is really intimate. In fact, it feels like a play.
Anything you can tell us about the rest of the season?
You guys are in for a good time. It’s going to be super fun. Just like that sweet bro, you’ll come along.
Tune into The Last Man on Earth on Sundays at 9:30p.m. ET on Fox.