Date: July 06 2012
When Mark Wahlberg was first approached to star in the comedy Ted, he turned it down.
''I thought the whole premise was ridiculous,'' the 41-year-old actor says, referring to his role as a grown man whose childhood wish brings his cherished teddy bear to life. ''But then I read the script and saw it as a great relationship movie if we played it for real, and I completely forgot about the fact he was a bear.''
Wahlberg finally decided to commit after meeting writer-director Seth MacFarlane, best known as the Emmy-winning creator of the animated series Family Guy, and getting familiar with his work.
''I'd never met Seth or seen his show, so I got sent a couple of episodes and thought, 'It's a cartoon, it's on network TV,' so I watched it with my kids,'' Wahlberg says, grinning. ''We were laughing hysterically to the point where my wife comes running in the room and got upset and ripped the DVD out and told me we couldn't show it to the kids. It was the episode where Stewie was making the dog eat poo and then he threw up, so I guess she was right.''
In Ted, which is part live action, part computer-graphics animation, Wahlberg plays John Bennett, a
man who is frustrated with his dead-end career and spends his days smoking pot and drinking beer in Ted's company. His cherished childhood toy has become a bad influence, much to the frustration of John's long-time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), who gives him an ultimatum.
Golden Globe-nominated Black Swan actor Kunis, who has voiced Family Guy character Meg Griffin for 13 years, was eager to work with MacFarlane on his directing debut, and first live-action project. ''Seth has been working on this story for years and had asked my advice at various points about who to cast in the female role,'' Kunis, 28, says. ''One day he said: 'You're old enough now, why don't you just play her?'''
The film pushes the envelope in the same way as Borat or Wilfred. While Wahlberg plays the straight man, Ted parties with hookers, does cocaine that ends up in his fur and reminisces with singer Norah Jones about a sexual encounter when she discovered he had no penis.
''With Family Guy, we had people literally forbidding us to do certain types of jokes because we were on TV,'' MacFarlane says. ''Self-policing is much harder but if something is offensive without being funny, it's not something we want to include and that's where we drew the line for this one.''
MacFarlane was only eight when he wrote his first comic strip, which was picked up by his home-town newspaper in Connecticut. He majored in animation at Rhode Island School of Design and his thesis film, The Life of Larry, led to a job with Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Family Guy began in 1999, was cancelled in 2002 but returned due to DVD sales and cult status in 2005, alongside American Dad and later spinoff The Cleveland Show.
Asked if he relates to the man-child struggle of Wahlberg's character in the film, the 38-year-old filmmaker says: ''I'm a strange mix because I found myself wanting to grow up fairly early, mainly because I knew exactly what I wanted to do from childhood. The irony is you're in a business where you have to retain a certain childhood mentality at the same time, so I suppose I'm constantly at war with both sides.''
MacFarlane voices Ted and also plays him, thanks to the motion-capture technology used in the film. ''The bear … was able to move in a completely human way, and that could only be done with the same technology used in Lord of the Rings and Avatar,'' he says.
''No one has ever done it in a comedy, but I like to try things that have never been done before.''
BUZZ Expected to attract huge crowds of Family Guy fans and others who like their comedy raunchy.
STARS Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis.
DIRECTOR Seth MacFarlane.
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