Mark Wahlberg & Mila Kunis Interview For ‘Ted’
‘Family Guy’ creator Seth MacFarlane brings his boundary-pushing brand of humour to the big screen for the first time as writer, director and voice star of ’Ted.’ In the live action/CG-animated comedy, he tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish…. and has refused to leave his side ever since. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Patrick Warburton, Giovanni Ribisi and Seth MacFarlane playing Ted through motion-capture, the R-rated comedy arrives in cinemas June 29th in the US and August 1st in the UK.
Can you tell us a little bit about where we meet your characters in ‘Ted’?
Mark Wahlberg: My character, John, he gets Ted as a Christmas gift. It’s one of those talking bears that when you squeeze its hand it says a couple different sentences. John doesn’t have many friends in the neighbourhood that he’s growing up in, so Ted becomes his best friend and he makes a wish that the bear will come to life and, you know, his Christmas wish is granted (laughs). It’s a very funny scene when the bear starts talking in the kitchen with his parents. John works at a rent-a-car place and has a beautiful girlfriend, Lori. He doesn’t want to let go of his adolescence, but his girlfriend wants him to step up and be a man. He’s enjoying life and couldn’t be happier with his girlfriend and his best friend; they make the most of every moment together. But that becomes a problem because Lori wants a bigger commitment.
Mila Kunis: Lori, she is a hard working girl who loves Mark Wahlberg’s character, for him being a child at heart. But she also has this thing in her where she wants to settle down, have a sense of security that he’s not capable of giving her. And I think she ultimately comes to the realisation that you can’t change someone, you just have to accept them for who they are. And I think she comes into terms with knowing that she is truly in love with the person that he is. And accepting Ted as well.
I thought she was a great character in that she’s well balanced, she could have easily been nagging or “one-of-the-guys”….?
Mila Kunis: Oh definitely. My biggest concern for every re-write that I read was I didn’t want her to be nagging and I didn’t need her to be one of the guys. I do believe there’s a happy medium, not all women are beer drinking, American Football loving woman. And then not all women are naggy. There is some that are halfway, so I was like, “I’m gonna do this. Your gonna have to help me?” And Seth did, he trusted me and I trusted him. Then Lori was born. But yes, it was a very fine line because I come from doing a lot of movies with a lot of guys, for some reason. There’s an aspect of my humour that I guess is very guy friendly, but I do believe that I’m still feminine (laughs). I like to hold that for all the ladies (laughs)!
Mark, ‘Ted’ is a film that people may not automatically expect from you? Especially seeing as you were last seen on the big screen in ‘The Fighter’ and ‘Contraband.’
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah. I still have some action with ‘Ted.’ I have a great fight sequence in the movie. A chase sequence, climbing over some stuff. But I do play a very different character, my character has never been in an altercation until he has to punch this twelve year old boy in the face (laughs). So it was very different. My character’s very child-like, I wouldn’t say naive, but he’s a sweet guy. He’s not the edgy sort of character that people have seen me play recently. I went from doing ‘The Fighter’ press to shooting ‘Contraband’ in New Orleans during award season and going back and forth. Then I got a copy of the script, and when I read it, 30 minutes into it I completely forgot about the bear, and I thought, ‘Wow, what a great buddy movie with this dilemma in the middle of it with the girlfriend.’ Then I met Seth, and I was campaigning to get the part.
You did two things in ‘Ted’ that you don’t really care to do….
Mark Wahlberg: (Laughs) Singing and dancing. I hate it. I don’t mind it in the shower or singing in the car – I was belting out an Adele song this morning. But, I dunno, it just feels silly. With the film, people love it so what do I know? My judgement is shot (laughs). I think with ‘Ted,’ people will not be disappointed, it’s like Seth MacFarlane on steroids. It really is. I saw ‘Family Guy’ and I thought, “Wow, he’s getting away with some of that stuff in a cartoon.” But now a feature film, Rated R, he pushes the envelope – there’s nobody he doesn’t offend either, everyone is fair game. I was down with signing and dancing on something like that.
With the nature of working with someone like Seth MacFarlane and his brand humour, I can imagine there needs to be a lot of trust? Especially since you haven’t worked with him before.
Mark Wahlberg: Yeah. Well, I read the script first of all….actually, when I first heard the concept of the movie I said, “You know what? This is not for me.” But my agent convinced me to read the script and I loved it. Then I sat with Seth for an hour and we clicked right away. You can just tell when somebody gets it, they know what they want and they know how to execute. Because I’ve been in a room with a lot of people who are just kind of trying to convince themselves that they know what they’re going to do, how they’re going to execute it. You could tell pretty quickly with Seth that he knew what he was doing.
Having worked with Seth MacFarlane for so long on ‘Family Guy,‘ what was it like for seeing him direct live-action?
Mila Kunis: It’s strange to have Seth be a director, because as much as I have worked with him on ‘Family Guy,’ I’m in one booth, he’s in another booth, and normally he has to explain to me what’s happening. When you record ‘Family Guy,’ you record it a year before anything’s drawn up, so I have no idea what I’m doing. He has to explain the plot, explain what happens, then you do it three or four times and move on. Seeing him actually be a visual director, explaining scenarios and characters, visually setting up shots, it’s been great. I couldn’t be prouder of him, I think he done an amazing job with ‘Ted,’ an amazing job.
What was your reaction to ‘Ted’ when Seth MacFarlane first talked to you about it?
Mila Kunis: It’s a movie about a talking teddy bear, and would expect nothing less from Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. To me it made sense. I didn’t question it at all, I was like, “OK.” I mean, I’m on a cartoon with a talking dog, I’m not gonna question a bear – what’s the difference (laughs). And with Seth, I trust him, he knows humour. I really do. He knows funny. Sometimes I’ll be like, “You’re wrong!” But no, he’s not, he’s always right (laughs), just don’t tell him I said that.
What was it like working against CGI and with Seth MacFarlane?
Mark Wahlberg: The CGI, it took a little while getting used to. But once I started getting into the swing of things, I started being very comfortable with the idea of acting opposite whatever they had. Whether it was the stuffed bear or the little stick with the eyes. And then of course having Seth somewhere in the room doing the voice was also very helpful. Working with Seth, you never know what to expect. But we hit it off really well when we first met and hung out. It was a very very pleasant experience working with Seth. He’s just such a nice, warm guy. He’s as funny as any human being I’ve met in my life, but he’s just really cool and easy to work with. There was never any stress or difficulty. With the animation, my only concern was that I wanted to play everything as real as possible. I wanted to play it completely straight and let the laughs come from the craziness of the situation. That was exactly what Seth was looking for.
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