Though he’s known for his work on television, Seth MacFarlane is making the jump to film with Ted, a new comedy from Universal. The mastermind behind Family Guy, American Dad and more, has teamed up with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis to bring us a film about a walking, talking, living, breathing teddy bear. As odd as it sounds, it works rather well and as usual, MacFarlane’s writing is hilarious and laugh out loud funny.
Last weekend, MacFarlane, Wahlberg and Kunis assembled in L.A. for the film’s press day. We were lucky enough to be in attendance and if you’re interested in hearing what they had to say, check it out below.
The hook of the film is the teddy bear and though you may think that acting opposite an inanimate object is tough, the actors tell us that it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, the bear wasn’t the one causing the problems on the set, Mila was.
“I was a little nervous to be working with the bear at first but once we got into it I got comfortable pretty quickly. They had done a test too and it was a concern you know, we wondered if the bear would go into the scene seamlessly with the chemistry,” said Wahlberg. “Me and Seth had a great time acting with one another but would that translate when you’re putting the bear into the actual scenes? That’s what we were worried about, it worked out well though. It was more of a problem working with Mila than the bear. [laughs] She’s a tough cookie, as you can see.”
“It wasn’t so bad,” continued Kunis. “I didn’t have very much physical interaction with the bear. It wasn’t as frightening for me, Mark had it the hardest.”
“The special effects were surprisingly smooth,” said MacFarlane. “We had two great studios that just knocked it out of the park for us. We also had a bit of liberty to do new lines for Ted in post-production in case something didn’t work. That was kind of a luxury that we took advantage of. We would screen the movie and if something didn’t work we’d try a different line at the next screening.”
With all the success that he’s had on television, why did it take Seth MacFarlane so long to make the jump to film? Well, it had to do with Family Guy‘s cancellation.
“Family Guy had that little cancellation thing happen to it and I wanted to make sure it was fully on its feet once it came back before I stepped away to do a film,” said Seth. “Stepping away from the show completely for a year was something that I hadn’t done yet. This was an idea that was in my head for a while though.”
Speaking of Family Guy, the show is known for being a bit more edgy and it tends to push the boundaries of what can be shown. With Ted though, MacFarlane had an R rating, which gave him a lot more room to push things. That being said, he still kept it rather tame, as he explains.
With a movie like this, most of it was language. This movie isn’t “hard R,” it’s fairly moderate,” said MacFarlane. “There’s no graphic sex or heavy drug use. It’s R for language. The first cut of the film actually had a lot more swearing and we did cut that down somewhat because we found that even though it’s an R rated comedy, it was starting to eat into the sweetness of the story a bit.”
In a movie like this, we kind of adhere to the same rule as we usually do in the animated shows,” continued MacFarlane. “If you’re going to make fun of one group, you need to make fun of them all. The cliche is “equal opportunity offender.” In this movie, everyone is poked fun at in some way. There are systems in place though (screenings, audience testing), that make it clear what’s over the line and what’s not.
Even in Family Guy, we screen every episode before it goes to full animation. For the most part, by the time it got to the test screenings we had removed most of that type of material, but there was one thing that we had to remove that was too over the line.”
Mila Kunis is known for her more comedic/light roles, which is why most critics were surprised when she starred in Black Swan in 2010. The film was completely different than anything she had ever done before but despite that, she was praised for her performance. So why go back to light, comedic roles then? Especially when she doesn’t even consider herself to be funny.
“I don’t think I’m funny, I really don’t,” says Kunis. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t love comedy, I just wouldn’t be able to go on a stage and say do a roast. I think I would panic. That being said, I love comedy when written well.
When someone like Seth MacFarlane gives me dialogue to say that I think is brilliant, I will say the sh*t out of it. For me, it’s not about genre, it’s about quality. I love Ted and I think it’s a great movie. I don’t care if it’s funny or sad. I will go in whatever direction I’m drawn to. I choose work I believe in.
When the two stars were asked why they enjoy working with MacFarlane and what they find attractive about his brand of humor, Kunis was first to speak up.
“Over the years, from Family Guy to this, I think that Seth’s humor is incredibly socially relevant,” says Kunis. “It’s not humor for the sake of being humor. There’s a certain linear story to his humor, it’s very consistent.
And it’s smart, it doesn’t make you feel dumb. He’s brilliant at what he does because he sets people up in low brow situations with high brow humor. That’s one of the hardest things to do. All of his humor is rooted in truth and honesty too. It’s very grounded.”[Looking at her in surprise] “That was good, I couldn’t do that,” said Wahlberg. “I was just going to say that he’s the funniest motherfu**er I’ve ever met.” [laughs]
Finally, Wahlberg and MacFarlane addressed the fight scene between Ted and John. Though it seems completely ridiculous, MacFarlane tried to play it as realistic as possible.
“I felt so ridiculous just flopping around this room by myself. Everybody loves the scene though,” said Wahlberg.
“The whole joke of this was that we wanted to play it as realistically as possible. We wanted it to feel like a fight from The Bourne Identity, except one of the characters happens to be a teddy bear,” continued MacFarlane. “I think we pulled it off and Mark just sold it 150%. Even without the bear in there, when you look at the raw footage, it actually still kind of works. Hopefully we made it painfully realistic.”
That concludes the interview but we’d like to thank Mark, Mila and Seth for their time. Be sure to check out Ted, in theatres June 29th.