TVLine's Performer of the Week: Will Forte

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Will Forte

THE SHOW | The Last Man on Earth

THE AIRDATE | March 1, 2015

THE PERFORMANCE | Phil Miller is a slob, a hornball, a 41-year-old temp whose only interesting attribute, at the outset of Fox’s new comedy, is that he just happened to survive the apocalypse. There’s little reason to find him compelling —but we do, and that has everything to do with the man playing him. Forte makes Phil a funny, lovable schlub whose “Why not?” attitude covers a deep loneliness and longing for his old life. Forte’s performance — particularly when Kristen Schaal’s last woman on Earth showed up — was sharply funny, with the Saturday Night Live grad building an intricate comedy Jenga tower of sight gags, physical humor and dead-on line readings. The actor should pour himself a congratulatory margarita pool; his talent is the reason Last Man is alive (and well) in Tuscon.

Sarah RaffertyHONORABLE MENTION | Suits‘ secretary extra- ordinaire may have declared to Harvey on Wednesday’s season finale that it’s his lucky day “because it’s the day you get to meet Donna,” but we consider ourselves the truly fortunate ones, getting to witness Sarah Rafferty‘s years-spanning performance. Whether charming her future boss (and us) in the flashbacks or breaking our hearts when she sorrowfully quit her position as his secretary, the actress was magnetic. Rafferty was so impressive and commanding, we’re not sure how Harvey can deny Donna anything she wants – and he’s a fool for trying.

HONORABLE MENTION | POTW_Goggins Justified viewers dreaded Boyd inevitably learning that Ava’s a snitch, primarily because there was no telling how he’d react. And with Walton Goggins’ work as that scenario played out, we indeed were on edge of seat. During a “getaway” into the woods, Boyd taunted his fiancee and us, ruminating over loaded topics such as wife beaters and past betrayals. When Ava ‘fessed up, Goggins riveted us with Boyd’s torment — jabbing a finger into his temple, egging Ava to end his misery with a bullet — and, most of all, when his heart trumped his hurt: “I can get us out of this, but I gotta trust you. And I got to know that you trust me.” Boyd’s gun had blanks, but Goggins hit the bull’s-eye.

lauren-weedman-lookingHONORABLE MENTION | Lauren Weedman typically serves as Looking‘s secret comedic weapon — tossing off deliciously biting barbs and poking fun at the relationship drama of her character’s gay pals. Sunday’s episode — in which Doris traveled back to her hometown of Modesto, Calif., to attend her father’s funeral — proved Weedman is capable of taking audiences into far heavier territory, too. Without a single line of dialogue, Weedman’s face registered palpable shock and grief and numbness as she listened to her aunt’s touching eulogy and tried to process the sudden loss of her closest family member. Later, after an unexpected car wreck shattered her wall of defenses, Doris finally called on boyfriend Malik for support, and the actress’ subsequent breakdown provided a profound dose of catharsis.

Which TV performances rocked your world this week? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Kat says:

    I was hoping for some Caterina Scorsone love

  2. MatRaupach says:

    That´s easy:

    Hayden Byerly and Gavin Macintosh from the ABC Family drama The Fosters

    Both showed this Monday the youngest male on male kiss in television history.

    For two actors this young, who both claim to be straight to perform a same sex kiss with so much feeling and emotion is truly extraordinary…

    That is something even many grown up actors can´t do.

  3. A says:

    Felicity Huffman and the cast of American Crime was amazing on this week.

  4. jerrired says:

    Lauren Weedman was so good on the last Looking that it give me chills.

  5. Erin2 says:

    Trai Byers knocked it out of the park this week on Empire

  6. Jonathon says:

    walton Goggins could win this just about any week in my opinion

  7. love says:

    How could you not include trai byers in this list! he was totally awesome this week

  8. E24 says:

    Lauren Weedman should have won the title this week. Sadly i dont watch Suits. But i do watch Empire, Greys, and others. Looking is a show no one watches. The ballsy move of making a supporting character who usually gets two comedic barbs each episode carry the weight and immense gravitas of a death in the family, inside a vacation episode, that was also a bottleneck episode is quite impressive on its own. But then the actress rose to the challenge and knocked it out of the park. She deserves an emmy nomination. Her performance and the shows ability to pull off this very relatable episode might just make the difference between a second and a third season. And if you can get your show another season then you definately deserve performer of the week.
    And about the choice of Forte (who i love)
    I dont think hes doing anything new or groundbreaking in this role. His style, timing, expressions are always the same. And pilots are suppossed to be the best, and that was all there was? I feel like this show is going to get canceled.
    I dont think Schaals schtik is going to attract viewers. It didnt on 30 Rock or Glee and i dont think it will help Last Man either.

  9. Celine Dion says:

    Sarah Rafferty is a babe!

    “we’re not sure how Harvey can deny Donna anything she wants – and he’s a fool for trying.”
    – best line ever.

  10. Maya says:

    Are you serious but Trai Byers doesn’t get any acknowledgement as Andre from Empire?!

  11. TVPeong says:

    Courtney B Vance from Scandal. He was amazing as the father wanting justice for his son.

  12. Molly says:

    Michael Welch as Officer Newton in The Lawn Chair episode of Scandal. Maybe the best performance of the year by any actor.

  13. Joe says:

    I love this site but hate this column…mostly because it’s always wrong…the fact that Trai Byers wasn’t even a mention shows how stupid this column is. You guys need to step your game up. Seriously.

    P.S. stop recapping Glee…the first season was brilliant season two was good and season 3 was solid it has become painfully bad…

    • lauren says:

      can’t be much of a fan if you didn’t know they mentioned Trai last week lol

      • liame says:

        What does last week have to do with this week? I didn’t know there was a rule against back to back honorable mentions or performers of the week?

    • MC says:

      They’re going to stop recapping Glee with two episodes left in its run? Last season was fairly lame after the Cory tribute, but this final season has had some great moments.

  14. Ender says:

    Wow. Proof that I’m looking for something different in terms of entertainment than tvline. I made it about 10 minutes into my DVR of Last Man on Earth before I turned it off and deleted the recording. I couldn’t imagine a less funny attempt at “comedy”.

  15. cyrano says:

    Caterina Scorsone needed a mention at the very least. Last man is disgusting and ridiculous.

  16. greysfan says:

    Not even a mention of Caterina Scorsone? This site definitely doesn’t have the Grey’s love this week even leaving the episode out of the what to watch this week too.

    I think top choice is wrong. Horrible premise and horrible show. There were more worthy performers this week including Felicity Huffman.

  17. i guess this makes sense. I dunno, I was already ready to turn the show off before Schaal turned up, and when she did I was done because good lord is their chemistry awful.

  18. Kermit says:

    Surprised at all the Forte and Last Man on Earth hate. The guy carried the pilot by himself, and was fantastic at it.

  19. Bob Backus says:

    ” little reason to find him compelling..” At least that quote is right! There truly is little to find it compelling, but if you look there were a couple of laughs. It wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be and frankly if you put this up against Parks and Rec., which I had the misfortune of watching (1st two eps in season 1 and 1st two in season 4 to see if it ever got better- it didn’t) then I guess Last Man was great (which it isn’t, it’s just watchable and please give me a break it’s about original as a show focused on a sports team would be).

  20. Last Man on Earth, was unwatchable, juvenile rubbish. Watched episode one, which was hard work and have given up. Dre’s breakdown in ‘Empire’ was far more worthy, but then Performance of the Week often goes to shows that need help, if not life support

  21. Bella says:

    Connie Britton and Chip Esten on Nashville were phenomenal in this week’s episode – that scene at the end of the episode with him revealing his illness to her and her SLAPPING him, damn they’re good. The two actors really bounce off each other and bring out the A-game in each other in so many different ways – they can do angry as all hell or hurt and raw or HOT, it all works. It doesn’t hurt that their chemistry jumps right through the screen the second they get anywhere even remotely near each other. Absolutely love Nashville, and these two are the reason. Can’t wait for more painful, beautifully acted scenes with them now that their storylines are colliding in such a tragic way, it has so much potential.