Seth Macfarlane bears all for new movie
As creator of cult American cartoon series 'Family Guy', Seth Macfarlane is a busy man.
Not only is he the brains behind the five-time Emmy winning show - which delivers off-colour gags and topical set-pieces - he also provides the voice for undependable dad Peter Griffin, the martini-quaffing, talking dog Brian, and Stewie, the pompous baby.
It’s been worth it though. In 2009, MacFarlane (pictured) became the highest paid TV producer of all time with a reported $100 million three-year deal for Family Guy, spin-off ‘The Cleveland Show’ and ‘American Dad’.
He’s now turned his attention to the silver screen and has another hands-on role. Macfarlane is writer, director and producer of the eagerly awaited live-action/CG-animation movie ‘Ted’.
He also provides the voice of the title character, a talking teddy bear. Anyone who has even stumbled upon
an episode of ‘Family Guy’ will know all about the near-to-the-knuckle humour on the show and should
expect more of the same in MacFarlane’s big-screen adventure.
He says: “Ted has a lot of love and enthusiasm and a zest for life but no self-editing mechanism, so what he says is really the first thing that pops into his mind.”
The ‘Family Guy’ team have hit raw nerves with unerring regularity - no issue is too sensitive - but MacFarlane credits a surprising source as the reason for his often X-rated humour - his mum.
“There was nothing I could say to my mother that would shock her, no joke I could make that was too offensive,” he reveals.
‘Ted’ tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a lonely boy whose Christmas wish is miraculously granted when his beloved bear comes to life. Vowing to be best friends forever, they share go-karting trips, make snow angels and watch endless episodes of ‘Flash Gordon’ together.
Fast forward 30 years and the fairy tale is very much over. While the grown-up John still loves Ted, he’s starting to feel the ill-effects of too much time drinking beer with his buddy.
A large part of the film’s charm is down to the fact that people are so blasé about a talking teddy bear.
MacFarlane explains: “It’s a point it would naturally get to in real life.
“Once that big moment has passed [when Ted comes to life] what’s the other 95 per cent of your life going
to be like?”
He adds: “There’s no obligation for Ted to grow up, or force himself out of this juvenile place but John has to. He can’t just languish in childishness as his teddy bear does. He has to find this balance between friendship and love.”
After enlisting the help of fellow ‘Family Guy’ writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, MacFarlane’s next task was casting the man who just can’t grow up.
He explains: “Mark was the perfect fit because he can be hysterically funny yet he’s also able to deliver genuine emotion and realism.
“That loveable, gullible character he plays in ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘I Heart Huckabees’ was something we saw as a jumping-off point for John: the sweet and funny guy who is susceptible to Ted’s urgings.”
Mila Kunis plays John’s ever-so-patient girlfriend Lori and MacFarlane was delighted to call upon the actress - who has voiced the role of ‘Family Guy’s Meg for almost 13 years. He says: “Lori’s relationship is hampered by the fact this guy’s teddy bear is hanging around and keeping John from evolving and allowing their relationship to evolve. To play that for real is asking a lot of an actor and she pulled it off with flying colours.”
MacFarlane is a big player in American entertainment, no doubt, but he’s been working on his artistic skills for quite some time.
Growing up in the small town of Kent, Connecticut, MacFarlane was only two years old when he picked up a crayon and started drawing to a level beyond his years.
“I’d draw pretty much everything I’d see on TV - Woody Woodpecker, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny,” he says.
At the age of nine, the child prodigy was creating a comic strip for his local paper.
His experience with Fred Flintstone will come in handy for his next project - he’s producing a 21st-century version of the classic animated comedy ‘The Flintstones’.
Isn’t he tired with so much work on the cards?
“What makes me happy is keeping my brain challenged, stimulated and on its toes,” he reveals with a smile.