Unless one is looking to catch a five-finger slap from every woman in sight, it’s perhaps best not to seek out dating advice from the titular character in multi-tasking Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s feature film debut, the new R-rated comedy Ted. Voiced by MacFarlane himself, Ted is a walking, talking, obscenely motivated stuffed animal who spends the entirety of his post-fame existence chasing women and getting high with his best friend of 27 years, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg). And his tactics when it comes to the ladies? An arsenal of super-confident and not-so-subtle pick-up maneuvers, cool guy one-liners, and something he like to call a “Dirty Fozzy.”
Fortunately for Ted, he just so happens to be a cuddly teddy bear, so his strategy works like gangbusters on women; if a flesh-and-blood dude were to try any his methods, though, the outcome wouldn’t be too pretty. But there is one thing Ted does that us human gentlemen can emulate: He uses AXE Hair products, thanks to a partnership between MacFarlane and the grooming company. For the Ted campaign, MacFarlane has directed a series of provocatively funny commercials, in which the bear pleasures a girl while out dining at a fancy restaurant.
One of the film’s stars, Jessica Stroup, is particularly excited about the MacFarlane/AXE collaboration. Admittedly attracted to guys with nicely maintained manes, the 90210, who has also worked on a couple of Family Guy episodes, thinks the affiliation makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, Ted never gets the chance to woo her character in the movie (she plays a co-worker of Wahlberg’s love interest, played by Mila Kunis), but something tells us he would’ve fared quite well.
Complex recently had a fun chat with Stroup to find out more about making Ted, what makes working with MacFarlane so enjoyable, and why guys should pay attention to his AXE spots.
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
Ted has a pretty outrageous premise: Mark Wahlberg smokes pot and gets into all kinds of trouble with a potty-mouthed, horny teddy bear. But somehow it all works, and the movie is hilarious. Was that outrageous premise what drew you to the project?
I’m actually a really good friend of Seth’s, so I knew he was coming up with this idea, and I knew that he was going to let me read the script once they’d gotten closer to finishing it. As you can see in the movie, I have a really small part, but I got to be with them on the set for a whole month, and kind of sit around and shadow Seth in a way, to see how he can multi-task so well, with, obviously, the writing, the directing, and starring in the movie.
I was just blown away. I think the whole cast that they got is really funny, and just being in there, in my own comfort zone, and having the opportunity to watch them and learn from them was the main goal. And the fact that it’s such a cool movie is even better.
Did your friendship with Seth start from when you did voice work for the Family Guy episode “Tiegs for Two”?
We have mutual friends. We’ve both been out here in L.A. for a number of years, so through mutual friends we’d met through passing. I was just always interested in his intelligence. He knows everything about astronomy but he also knows everything about weird, geeky stuff. He’s just a really great friend to have around. So I ended up being able to work on a Family Guy episode or two. Having been in his voice recording world, I know that he’s such a master at it, and I’ve got a lot of learning to do with that kind of stuff.
In “Tiegs for Two,” you voiced a love interest for Brian, one of the many characters that Seth voices himself, with what’s pretty much his actual voice. That must have been fun, going back-and-forth with him in the recording booth. It’s funny, we interviewed him recently, and at first it’s tough to ignore the fact that, in a way, you’re speaking to Brian Griffin
Yeah, totally! He doesn’t even notice sometimes, but he’ll want to throw out a comment about something and he’ll do it in one of the voices. [Laughs.] It’s so innate. I got to go into the Family Guy office and record that episode, and he was kind enough to be there and read opposite of me. That kept it really fun to me.
The animation world is such a cool world, but as far as bring that to Ted, and playing a bear, he got to be in a suit, the whole CGI thing. It’s definitely a next step, I think, in ways that a lot of movies might want to go, because you can do such ridiculous things with it, and it’s really fun because he’s still this cuddly bear who gets all the ladies’ and has this insane confidence and is actually putting on AXE Hair in the movie. There’s a lot of really fun moments in the movie.
Did you get to see him film a lot of the scenes while he was wearing the CGI suit, as Ted?
No, I actually never got to be there to talk to Ted, but I saw the suit and I was very aware of how the CGI graphics guys down in Australia were going to bring Ted to life. It was really important to him to have the bear look right, to make sure that you can tell that this is a bear that’s been around awhile.
Now, as far as his Ted-starring AXE Hair commercials, what’s your involvement in those?
I’m just a huge fan of smells, first of all. I have a bit of an obsession with smells. If you watch 90210, you see my hair changing every episode—I’ve chopped it off and I’ve kept it long. I’ve done it all to my hair on that show. [Laughs.] So hair product is really important to me. We actually have AXE Hair on our set, so I’ve put it in my hair and I love the product.
The fact that the partnership has come about with Ted is great, because the bear in the movie is such a ladies man. He’s got this ultimate confidence, and—you’ll see this in the commercials, too—is someone who can be all cute and cuddle around the ladies. The commercials that Seth directed are hilarious; they’re totally raunchy, and totally up his alley.
One of the funny things about the movie is that, like he does with talking dog Brian Griffin on Family Guy, MacFarlane doesn’t have to acknowledge the fact that it’s weird to see a human girl being turned on by a little talking teddy bear. It’s just totally accepted.
[Laughs.] Yeah, exactly, but that’s the genius of it. You set it up in the beginning, which he does with that cute storyline before and during the opening credits, but you’ve got a bear who magically comes to life, everybody’s excited, he goes on Johnny Carson’s TV show, and then, 15 years later, nobody cares.
That reality is legit, like, “Yeah, maybe that could happen,” because at least you’re acknowledging that science is excited, and people are like, “Oh my gosh, this bear came alive!” But then all of the excitement fades, because everything eventually fades in life.
You can also see the Family Guy ties in the movie, with the random pop culture references like Tom Skerritt and Flash Gordon being so strangely prominent.
Seth has his geeky obsessions, man! I’m telling you. [Laughs.] And I think the difference between animation and live action is the way that you end scenes. It’s a lot easier to just cut off a scene after a quick joke in animation and switch to something else—it kind of plays funny. But in a movie, you might be like, “Wait a minute, that was such a quick jump.” It was such a different style and process for him to create these scenes in Ted and make sure the whole thing flowed.
Since Ted is about the bond shared between a kid and his favorite teddy bear, I have to ask: Growing up, did you have your own Ted?
[Laughs.] Yeah, I had Beanie Babies, man! I was a part of that Beanie Babies generation. I had, like, 400 of them… OK, maybe not that many, but I had a lot of little stuffed animals that I liked to make talk. I was a big dork, and I still am.
So would a guy who has Ted's in-your-face personality, unabashed confidence, and dirty sense of humor appeal to a dork such as yourself in real life?
Oh, yeah! Hair on a guy is something that attracts me first; if you’ve got a good head of hair, and you’re able to style yourself in a way that’s presentable, I think that’s really important. Ted is able to woo all the ladies, and I think AXE is really representative of what guys can do to get their confidence up, to get their hair together and look good. So I think Ted is a perfect representation of being able to be confident, be a ladies’ man, and wear AXE Hair.
Is there a fine line between confident and being obnoxious, which Ted can be at times?
You’ve got to take a guy like Ted with a grain of salt. I don’t think if someone was saying such raunchy things as Ted is that you could really justify that. [Laughs.] No guy in real life is going to be able to say the things that Ted says and not get slapped, so there is definitely line. But if you’re a teddy bear, and you’ve got great hair and you’re cuddly, then there’s nothing wrong with it.
How about if the guy says crazy stuff like Ted but also has a secret Beanie Babies collection back at home?
I’d love him! [Laughs.] I’d marry him!
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)