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Remember that time MacGruber had a Super Bowl commercial? It was all the way back in 2009, and it featured sketch regulars Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, along with the original MacGyver himself Richard Dean Anderson. Some fans loved it. Those out of the loop were mostly confused. Upon further review, it turns out it almost didn’t happen.
Will Forte appeared on Dana Carvey and David Spade’s podcast Fly On The Wall earlier this week (though it was filmed prior to the strike) and the subject of Richard Dean Anderson came up. Carvey has apparently been watching Stargate with his son and asked about Forte working alongside him for the Super Bowl commercial, and apparently there’s a much more complicated story behind it than I realized.
According to Forte, Pepsi originally approached Lorne Michaels and said they’d like to turn one of the recurring sketches into a Super Bowl commercial. The longtime SNL headman went back and said he’d like to do MacGruber, and they said thanks but no thanks. Instead of bailing, however, Michaels and Forte decided to just film the commercials anyway and try to convince Pepsi after they were done. Here’s a portion of his quote…
Pepsi had approached Lorne and said, ‘Hey, do you want to take an SNL sketch and turn it into a commercial,’ and somehow he picked MacGruber. When he told Pepsi that MacGruber was what he wanted to go with, they quickly bowed out and said, ‘You know what, maybe we don’t want to do a Super Bowl commercial.’ So, Lorne said, ‘You know what, let’s keep making this thing and just make it good enough that they’ll want to do it.’ So we said alright and rallied the troops and we did it and brought Richard Dean Anderson in. We decided because there was no guarantee this would go anywhere, we would make a sketch for the show at the same time. So, we got to hang around with him for a whole day once, and he was so cool.
Forte and company filmed three commercials for the big game. Pepsi liked them enough to move forward with the project, but only one of them ultimately aired during the broadcast. In fact, the company reportedly didn’t decide to air one of them until days before The Super Bowl. The rest of them ultimately ran on Saturday Night Live itself as commercials attached to the show, and they are utterly outrageous. One even features Forte saying Pepsi over and over again with different inflections, sorta like John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich.
In addition to having a Super Bowl commercial, which must be pretty freaking amazing, one of the highlights for Forte was working with Richard Dean Anderson. He said he couldn’t have been nicer and immediately made it clear he was a big fan of the MacGruber sketches and watched them with his 10 year old daughter, which was prefect then but maybe not as much after the movie came out and got way way raunchier. Here’s what he said…
He talked all about how he’d been watching the MacGrubers with his 10 year old daughter. It was very sweet. After the movie came out, it took a pretty hard turn into very dirty territory. I don’t think they watched that one together.
Early in the interview, Carvey and Spade talked about doing research on Forte ahead of the interview (even though they’d all met thanks to SNL), and they said they came across a website describing Forte’s humor as “bizarre.” They saw it as a compliment, and I couldn’t agree more. No one else is like Will Forte, and if you want a reminder of that, check him out in the recently released Strays, which is, of course bizarre.