LONDON — In the hotel suite was Seth MacFarlane, the creator, writer, director and voice of “Ted 2” (opening Friday), but there was no sign of his naughty alter ego: furry Ted himself.
“Oh, he’s simply exhausted,” MacFarlane said with a big wink. “Besides, it costs a lot of money to get him to show up for an interview. … You have no idea. He’s just so damn expensive to have around. And, as for him being in the movie? Every frame of ‘Ted’ cost like $9,000. At times it seemed like we were making the most expensive movie ever made.”
The original “Ted” was a surprise uber-hit in 2012, grossing nearly $550 million at the box office worldwide — and $219 million in the U.S. alone.
Noting that few sequels match the success of the original, MacFarlane said he knew he had to take the storyline in an entirely different direction from the first movie, which introduced the teddy bear title character as the come-to-life raunchy pal of Mark Wahlberg’s character, John Bennett.
“The only reason it was desirable to do a sequel was to make a completely new film — just incorporating many of the same characters. I put in a lot of arduous work hours, and if you’re going to do that, you don’t want to do the same thing twice.”
Wahlberg agreed. “You know, I’ve never done a sequel before [to one of my movies], so I had to be completely convinced we would take this new movie down a different path. Once I read the script, I knew that was going to happen.”
For MacFarlane, this new tale “was something that was true to our characters, but was removed enough from the first movie that it was something audiences would want to see.” For the “Ted 2” creator, it was important “to give Ted a new storyline all the way through. His getting married and having to fight to be considered human and not a piece of property gave us something intriguing to investigate, but obviously we had to do it with a lot of humor thrown in.”
Considering all the foul language in “Ted 2” (as was the case in the first “Ted”), I told MacFarlane I was convinced Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be entertained by this second film — since Hizzoner is famous for his frequent use of the f-word.
“His brother [Ari Emanuel] is my agent, and he also is known for his frequent use of colorful language,” said the filmmaker with a big laugh. “Both of them, Ari and Rahm, use a lot of what I’d call textured language. … They are a very relaxed family when it comes to conversation.”
One scene in the film that will cause a lot of discussion involves the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady — and a late-night excursion by Ted and John to the QB’s home. The mission: To retrieve (ahem) the superstar athlete’s sperm to artificially inseminate Ted’s bride Tami-Lynn (played by Jessica Barth), since the teddy bear lacks the necessary, uh, plumbing.
MacFarlane said his and Wahlberg’s personal connections to the NFL pro helped a lot to make that scene happen.
“Tom had done [MacFarlane’s animated show] ‘Family Guy’ about six or seven years ago, so we had sort of a pre-existing relationship with him. It also certainly didn’t hurt that Mark was involved, because Mark and he are friends. … Even so, we thought it would be a 50-50 chance he’d agree. But he read [the scene] and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll do this. ‘”
Another dicey scene involves Jay Leno. Without giving anything away, suffice it to say it involves sex in a public men’s room.
According to MacFarlane, “Jay Leno does not get enough credit for being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Everyone who works for him will only tell you great stuff about him — and unsolicited!
“He’s also not the kind of guy who does this sort of stuff, something that really isn’t thought of when you think of Jay Leno and comedy.”
In the final analysis, MacFarlane turned to why “Ted” was so successful in connecting with adult audiences. Is it because of the stuffed creature’s warm ‘n’ fuzzy appearance, before he opens his mouth and let’s loose with the most obscene dialogue?
“We find with Ted — and Stewie [from ‘Family Guy’], for that matter — the smaller and cuter the character is, the more they can get away with and the more forgivable it is.”
As I walked out of the room, MacFarlane added, “I just gotta keep coming up with those cute little f—ers!”