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Q&A: UCLA alumnus Will Forte talks fatherly role in film premiering at Sundance

A boy and girl stare upwards in field. With alumnus Will Forte playing Cyrus, “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out” will premiere on Jan. 20 at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out”)

By Dannela Lagrimas

Jan. 19, 2023 4:56 p.m.

Extraterrestrials will be abducting the Sundance screens.

Will Forte stars in “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out,” which will premiere Friday in the Kids category at the Sundance Film Festival. The UCLA alumnus and former “Saturday Night Live” star plays a small but pivotal role as Cyrus, a father who mysteriously disappears, leading his son to believe he was kidnapped by aliens.

Forte spoke with the Daily Bruin’s Dannela Lagrimas about integrating his own parental experiences into the dramedy and family-oriented role.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[Related: Q&A: UCLA alumnus talks Emmy-nominated cinematography for ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’]

Daily Bruin: You’ve had a variety of roles in your career, ranging from absurd with “MacGruber” and “SNL” to dramatic with films like “Nebraska.” Your role in “Aliens Abducted” is in the middle of the spectrum – how would you say that your past experiences influenced your approach to playing Cyrus?

Will Forte: I think every little thing that you learn goes into the next thing you do in life – you’re constantly evolving and hopefully growing as a human being. Everything I do from here on out will be lessons I’ve learned, which include the role of Cyrus. So you collect all these memories of things you did right, things you screwed up, and hopefully you don’t let it bog you down.

Doing Cyrus was just a delight. I’m not the main part of the movie, but I’m delighted because I’m good friends with the people who made this movie. I’m happy that it somehow made it into Sundance because these guys are just wonderful people who’ve made this movie.

DB: Your character, Cyrus, is first and foremost a father who becomes separated from his son. As a dad yourself, how did your parenthood affect this performance?

WF: I have an almost two-year-old (daughter) now, and just three months ago, my wife gave birth to a daughter. It’s way later than I ever thought I would have had kids – I graduated from UCLA in ‘93, so I’m an old man. I’m a later-in-life dad. But having a child is one of the most unique experiences. It’s an intensity of love that you just can’t explain until you do it.

Certainly, playing a dad role after actually becoming a dad is a different thing. I don’t know how much it changed my performance – I’m not a good enough actor to use that. But certainly, it makes it easier to understand what the director is looking for when he’s talking about parent stuff.

[Related: Q&A: “The People We Hate at the Wedding” screenwriters, cast navigate family dynamics]

DB: Your character has more of a backseat role, while younger actors Jacob Buster and Emma Tremblay are the movie’s leads. What was your experience sharing the set with the young actors, and did you have any words of advice for them?

WF: My part was pretty quick. I was only there for two nights. But I did get to hang out with Jacob and Emma, and they were delightful. That’s why this movie getting into Sundance is such an unexpected yet exciting thing. You never expect much to come from anything you do, especially something this small. I just kind of say, “OK, I’m going to enjoy the experience.” Anything that comes after that is a bonus.

The fact that this movie got invited to be in Sundance is so exciting. To me, this is the little movie that could, and I’m so excited people are getting a chance to see it because it’s this delightful movie that a bunch of delightful people made with a real family atmosphere on set. It was one of the more enjoyable and definitely more wholesome experiences that I’ve had in my career.

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Dannela Lagrimas | Lifestyle editor
Lagrimas is the 2022-2023 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a second-year communication and political science student from Temecula, California.
Lagrimas is the 2022-2023 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a second-year communication and political science student from Temecula, California.
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