ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out director Jake Van Wagoner and stars Will Forte and Elizabeth Mitchell about attending Sundance Film Festival and extraterrestrial life. The premiere takes place on January 20 at 8 p.m. ET in Salt Lake City with additional screenings both in-person and online through next week.
“Itsy Levan is devastated by her parents’ decision to leave the city and buy a fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere. Her life seems over until she meets her space-obsessed neighbor Calvin Kipler,” says the synopsis. “Calvin has spent most of his life awaiting the next arrival of Jesper’s Comet— partly because of his obsession with Astronomy, but mostly because the last time it came, ALIENS ABDUCTED HIS PARENTS! This year he is going to be ready for its return so he can finally get them back. Itsy sees this as a chance to help her get into a NYC journalism program and decides to help him, however crazy his plan seems. They end up discovering much more than what is on the other end of the comet’s tail.”
Tyler Treese: What are your thoughts on having the world premiere at Sundance, which has done so much for independent films over the years?
Jake Van Wagoner: It’s incredible. It was a real shot in the dark and it worked out for us, so I’m super excited. It’s actually kind of funny too because I’ve lived in Utah for about 10 years. I’ve never been to Sundance one time, so I’m excited to just go for the first time with a movie there.
Elizabeth Mitchell: I’ve never been to Sundance before. When I found out I was — which was not your question, but I promise I’ll come back — when I found out I was shooting a little movie, it was really quiet and it was the middle of the night and they told me we got into Sundance and I let out a little scream and I started walking around and dancing and getting all excited. And I feel like it was so … just such a wonderful, magical moment. I have always wanted to go to Sundance and I am kind of amazed that this sweet little movie that we had so much fun on is the one that went to Sundance. Like, I thought that was so extraordinary, right Will? Like, oh my gosh.
Will Forte: Yeah, I always had high hopes that this was going to turn into the type of movie that it did. But it certainly … you don’t go into this going, “Oh, this is a sure thing for Sundance.”
Forte: And this was … I think it was kind of meant to be because, for the last six months, my family has been planning a ski trip here for my mother-in-law’s birthday. We were here anyway, and the day that we were going to leave is the day that Sundance starts. We just tacked on another couple [of] days so we can go to the premiere and the festivities. So we were here anyway. It’s insane. It was so exciting. I think Elizabeth will agree that … the people making this movie, Jake and Maclain [Nelson], I’ve known now for a couple of years. They’re just wonderful people. I’m just so, so happy for their happiness.
Mitchell: Me too. You think you’re going to go do this, this quirky, lovely little movie with friends, and then it ends up being just as lovely as you could ever hope, right?
Will, you worked with Jake on a Studio C episode, so I assume that’s how you got on board, but I would love to know how you both found out about this movie and came on board.
Forte: Yeah, I mean, even earlier than that, I worked on the movie Don Verdean 10 years ago — or even more than 10 years ago — and Jake was a P.A. I remember back then, he and I walked around the streets. We were looking for some kind of fast food because we had time to kill as the schedule had shifted. So I walked around and just chit-chatted with this guy for several years, having no idea that years later we’d work together and acted together in this show called Show Offs for BYUtv.
Then he invited me back to do Studio C for BYUtv. They asked me to be a part of this movie right around then. So he and our buddy Maclain, who acted also in the Show Offs show and is a producer on this movie. They’ve become big wonderful friends out[side] of work. So this was just … this kind of evolved, this role — [it] seems like it’s been in the works for a decade.
Mitchell: It’s all from The Good Place.
Forte: There was a more concise way to tell that!
Mitchell: No, no, no, I actually really liked the way that you told it. I love that. I mean, I think that that’s the joy of it, is the friendship, because mine is similar in a way in that, um, Bob Merrick is one of the executive producers on this, and he called me and he just said, “Hey, do you want to come do a movie with two great guys? Well, three with Will.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do that. That’s fine. That sounds wonderful.”
And then they sent me the script and I was like, “This is lovely. Like, this is lovely.” But I had already said yes. I wanted to go work for a few days with friends and really nice people and I was all in. But it turned out to be even more than I thought, which is just kind of amazing when that happens. But it did come out of the blue, didn’t it? I didn’t even think about it. I thought I did this really sweet thing and I loved it, and, “How wonderful. I hope somebody sees it someday.”
Aliens are at the core of this story, so where does your interest lie when it comes to the extraterrestrial?
Forte: I think it’s just a … I think everybody is fascinated by the … how do I phrase this? I certainly will never shut the door on the existence of aliens. I tend to believe there’s probably something out there somewhere.
Forte: Who knows? Maybe they walk among us. Anybody who says, “Oh, aliens don’t exist,” how do you know? It’s fascinating … I don’t know enough about the universe out there, but I know it’s just mind-blowing. Your brain just can’t comprehend how huge it is. I don’t know what lurks out in the far reaches of the universe and, who knows? It’s probably way closer [than] any kind of other alternative life form is … let me do my shortening of that. Any Alf could be … who knows how close or far away they are?
Forte: We know that UFOs exist, because of all the unclassified stuff that came out recently with a kind of a yawn amongst people —
Mitchell: I know, right? When we were kids, we were like, “Oh! Oh really? Are you kidding? Where? Where could it be?” And I, for one, as a little kid, checked the skies quite often when I was on long expanses of dirt roads. I was like, “Well, if it happens, it happens.” I mean, we are tiny little creatures in such a big world, which I actually find — maybe I’m just an oddity — but that brings me great solace, just to think that we are such a tiny little part of this massive universe. And you’re right! You can’t think that we’re the only things. It feels very selfish, doesn’t it? So it’s exciting to me.