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|Also Known As:||Josef Forte,Josef Forte,Joe Forte||Died:|
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Comedian Will Forte carved a successful Hollywood career out of playing characters that bordered on the absurd. The actor made his television debut as a cast member of the iconic late night variety show, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) where he made viewers laugh week after week with spot-on celebrity impersonations and original, off-kilter characters. One of Forte's most memorable "SNL" roles was a hapless, mullet-sporting special ops agent named MacGruber. The sketches, which lampooned the hit action series "MacGyver" (ABC, 1985-1992), often found the bumbling title character locked in a control room while attempting to diffuse a ticking time bomb. In 2010, Forte delivered more laughs with a feature film version of "MacGruber," an explosive comedy that proved he was one of the most committed and funniest actors to come out of "SNL."
Orville Willis Forte IV was born on June 17, 1970 in Alameda County, CA to Patricia Stivers and Orville Willis Forte III. He graduated from Acalanes High School in Lafayette, CA before receiving a degree in history at UCLA. While living in Los Angeles, Forte joined the improv comedy troupe The Groundlings. He also wrote skits for variety shows such as "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ) and the "MTV Movie Awards" (MTV, 1992- ). In 2002, Forte joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" as a featured player opposite such full time cast members Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler. The hardworking comedian was soon elevated to repertory player during his second season on the show, where he took on the highly coveted role of then-president George W. Bush after Will Ferrell's departure.
"SNL" not only provided Forte the opportunity to showcase his talent of impersonating celebrities and politicians, but also allowed him to play a number of hilariously offbeat recurring characters. One of his earliest characters was "The Falconer," a sketch that followed a businessman (Forte) who leaves his job to become a hermit living in the jungle with his pet falcon, Donald. Another of his more recognized characters was Tim "Boo" Calhoun, a soft-spoken and fidgety criminal-turned-political candidate who often appeared during the show's "Weekend Update" segments alongside Fey and Fallon.
In 2007, Forte debuted his "MacGruber" character on "SNL." The sketch featured a special ops agent who is often distracted by personal issues while deactivating time bombs. Within minutes, the skits would end up with said bomb exploding, marking yet another of MacGruber's unsuccessful attempts to prevent disaster. Both the character's name and overall look parodied the long-running action/adventure series "MacGyver," which had starred Richard Dean Anderson in the 1980s as a secret agent who skillfully used household items to resolve life-or-death crises. In 2009, Anderson appeared alongside Forte in a series of Pepsi commercials designed as "MacGruber" sketches. Anderson later reprised his role on "SNL" that same year, where it was revealed that MacGyver was MacGruber's long-lost father.
Outside of "SNL," Forte made cameo appearances in such feature films as "Around the World in 80 Days" (2004) opposite Jackie Chan, and the gross-out comedy "Beerfest" (2006). The actor also wrote and starred in the 2007 comedy "The Brothers Solomon" as one of two clueless siblings (the other played by Will Arnett) who ask a woman they met on Craigslist (Kristen Wiig) to become their surrogate mother. "The Brothers Solomon" bombed at the box office and received negative reviews, including one from critic Richard Roeper, who claimed he walked out during the film's screening. Undaunted, Forte acted alongside his "SNL" castmates Fey and Poehler in the comedy "Baby Mama" (2008) as well as lent his vocals to the animated film "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" (2009), which also featured the voices of "SNL" players Bill Hader and Andy Samberg.
Three years after its television debut, Forte brought his most famous "SNL" character to the big screen with the action/comedy "MacGruber." The film, which also took inspiration from big-budget 1980s blockbusters such as "Lethal Weapon" (1987) and "Die Hard" (1988), found the title character on a mission to stop his sworn enemy Dieter von Cunth (Val Kilmer) from destroying Washington, D.C. with a nuclear warhead. The film also starred Wiig as MacGruber's sidekick and love interest Vicki St. Elmo, and Ryan Philippe as military expert Lt. Dixon Piper. That same year, Forte appeared - in full drag - on the hit comedy series "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013) as the cross-dressing boyfriend and secret onstage impersonator of actress Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski).
Sticking largely to "SNL" and other TV productions in subsequent years, Forte popped up as TV mogul Ted Turner on numerous episodes of "Conan" (TBS, 2010- ) and lent his voice to the animated series "Gravity Falls" (Disney Channel, 2012-16). In 2013, he finally returned to more substantial film roles, switching from the boldly colorful animated world of "Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2," playing a rival inventor to Bill Hader's Flint Lockwood, to Alexander Payne's black-and-white dramedy "Nebraska," which finally gave him the opportunity to reveal his more serious side. Forte returned to television with "The Last Man on Earth" (Fox 2015- ), an oddball post-apocalyptic comedy he created and starred in as Phil Miller, seemingly the lone survivor of an unspecified plague that appears to have wiped out the rest of humanity. The series debuted to strong critical response.
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