Seth MacFarlane finally gets his paws into the movie business with Ted, the story of a man and his best bud. As the voice of the titular crass teddy bear, MacFarlane branches out from the animated shows that put him on the map (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show) and manages to win over his co-stars, Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg. Buzzine's Roxanna Bina recently sat down with the cast to discuss the fun and fuss of working with each other, computer graphics, and their very own stuffed animals.
Roxanna Bina: What was your favorite toy when you were a kid and the one you would want to meet and play with?
Seth MacFarlane: Oh, gosh. This is – I have such a boring answer to this question. I had a stuffed red dog when I was a kid that I was very fond of. If he had come to life I probably would have been terrified so I am happy that didn’t happen.
RB: Was it Clifford?
SM: It probably was Clifford. Its name was Homer for some reason. In retrospect it probably was from the Clifford Corporation, yea.
RB: What is the show you still have in your head but haven’t been able to put together yet?
SM: Gosh, I feel like thus far I have been able to do – well The Flintstones. The Flintstones was the most recent project that I had to shelve actually for the time being. I had to put it on hold because I just got too busy. That was supposed to be the next show that I was going to produce. It may still happen. I am just a little swamped at the moment.
RB: What type of challenge does a film like this represent?
SM: The leap from animation to live action was a challenge. It wasn’t as big a challenge I had feared it would be. It was definitely something that was daunting. It was really learning the basics of filmmaking. All of the special effects stuff was ironically the easy part because I had come from animation. Learning the basics of filmmaking and the difference between American-over and a French -ver, the different types of shots. I sort of got a crash course in that.
RB: Why did you choose Mark Wahlberg for the lead role?
SM: We wanted somebody who would be a funny but also be able to play that part with some reality and some sincerity. It was important that you really believe that the relationship exists between the bear and John. He was the one guy who really to me embodied – he was versatile enough to do both. I have seen him be funny often enough that I knew he could do comedy. Even then, he exceeded my expectations with what he did in this movie.
But he also was able to deliver the sweeter parts of the movie, the sincerity. I think with some of the broader comedians no matter how sincere they are you are still going to kind of laugh. But with Mark he kind of has a command of both comedy and drama that was kind of perfect for this movie.
Roxanna Bina: Which one of your childhood toys would you most like to come to life?
Mila Kunis: Well, my favorite toy when I was little – I remember it is a little character named “cheburashka.” I am not from the States. So I used to like this little cheburashka and when I came to the States at the age of nine a family friend of mine gave me a stuffed teddy bear that I still have. She is about this big. It’s a she. And she is gray. And she has a name. I guess if I could play with any single one of them it would probably be cheburashka because he has a really cute little voice.
RB: What type of challenges do you face in a film like this, that uses CG characters and live action?
MK: I think none of it was for me. The challenge I think really was for the designers of Ted. I think that [it] was to try to make a likable, obnoxious looking teddy bear that people can relate to.
RB: What was the toughest aspect of it and why?
MK: That is something that would probably need to be asked of Seth McFarlane. For me, I had a blast going and acting opposite MacFarlane. I had in my earwig at all time so it wasn’t so hard for me. I think the biggest challenge would be the creation of the bear. That is all them. That is Seth and the effects team.
RB: How would you describe Seth?
MK: I have known Seth since I was 15. It is strange for me to have to learn how to describe him because he is one of my oldest friends and truly an older friend. Like friend. Like we hang out and go to lunches, we watch TV. It is not necessarily somebody that I consider my boss, which he also is. You know, Seth and I have gone through a lot together. He is incredibly loyal.
I don’t know if I should answer this question on a personal level or as a director. I guess maybe hand in hand they go. He is loyal. He is supportive. He is passionate. He is brilliant, which I think everybody knows. He is smart. He is compassionate and he doesn’t have an ego. I think at the end of the day that, as a person, really does play out as a director.
RB: You’re also the voice of Meg on his show, Family Guy. Did Seth direct you differently in a live action project?
MK: No. I think the reason he and I work well together is because after 12 years of working on Family Guy, we do have a shorthand. So doing live action is the same exact thing there is just a face attached to the voice.
RB: Ted is all about a man who’s childhood wish comes true. What is your biggest wish that has come true in your life?
MK: One? I’m not going to answer it. It is too personal. I mean I can give you a bullsh*t answer, but I’ll just be honest. You make simple wishes and some happen, some don’t. Ultimately as cheesy as this sounds, being here is a great. You can’t call it a wish. It is not like I magically wished for something and it happened over night. You still work for things in real life. I think that there [are] aspects to being here that is a miracle.
RB: Lastly, what do you think this film is truly about?
MK: Friendship and acceptance.
Roxanna Bina: Before we get into Ted, what’s happening with the film adaptation of Entourage?
Mark Wahlberg: Doug Ellen is actually writing now, finally. It took him a while to start writing I think it was just milling over different ideas. And now he is off and writing, so.
RB: What can we expect from the guys?
MW: I’m hoping we go back to how the show started with just the guys being guys. And it became a very – there was a lot of important roles for females in it but I think I want to get back to the essence of the show. And that is the guys being crazy.
RB: Great. Getting back to Ted, what type of challenge does a film like this represent? What was the toughest aspect of making it and why?
MW: Probably the toughest part was the technical challenge and you know, you obviously don’t have anything there to – to see and visualize. And also just having that faith that the powers that be, the effects house would be able to bring this bear to life and there would be a chemistry there and it would feel like it was real.
RB: What was your favorite toy when you were a kid – one you would want to meet and play again with?
MW: Well, I don’t know if I want to meet and play with it again. I am going to end up talking about this all day because people are interested in this question. I had a stuffed monkey when I was really little I was obsessed with it. It was old and ratty and my parents would try to take it and throw it away and give me something new. And I would dig it out of the trash – I was obsessed with it.
RB: How would you describe Seth McFarlane?
MW: He is one of the kindest, sweetest guys I have ever met in my life. He is funny and a little crazy, but he is very, very sweet.
RB: He’s written, directed, and voiced some of the biggest animated shows of the past decade, and now moving into features. Where do you think he fits in the entertainment world?
MW: He is one of the most powerful forces in all of entertainment.
RB: How does he work with the actors?
MW: Easy. You know, that was the one thing, I didn’t have a bare to work off of but Seth would be off camera doing the dialogue and stuff like that. He is fantastic. He is very kind. Very patient. Always coming up with really smart suggestions and direction.
RB: Was there anything that surprised you about him the first time you met him?
MW: Just how cool he was you know. Such a nice guy. So pleasant to be around. Very easy going. Smart as anybody I have been around. He is easy going, which I like.
RB: What do you think Ted is truly about?
MW: For me it is about relationships and guys having to come to terms with you know, growing up and accepting adulthood and taking care of their responsibilities. At the end of the day it is a relationship movie. Our intent was to make people laugh.
RB: It’s also about a man who’s childhood wish comes true. What is the biggest wish you’ve made that came true in your life?
MW: You know what? I have been so blessed and so fortunate and my dreams continue to come true. My children are happy and healthy. I have so much to be grateful for. Every day I kneel down and pray… and my prayers are getting longer and longer because I have so much to be thankful for.
Universal Pictures' 'Ted' will be released nationwide Friday, June 29, 2012.