When we speak to Amanda Seyfried, she’s in London, forced to briefly abandon her Off-Broadway show — Neil LaBute’s “The Way We Get By” — right before it entered its final week. (It has since closed.) “I am not happy about playing hooky, I’m telling you,” she tells us. Instead she’s talking about “Ted 2,” her second film with Seth MacFarlane, after last year’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Both mark a return to comedy for a serious actress who herself got her big break in “Mean Girls,” though the genre is still another welcome challenge.
“The Way We Get By” is your first play. How has that gone?
It’s really the most intensely fulfilling moment of my life, creatively and personally. I have incredible stage fright, so this made me feel like I’ve succeeded at something really big. Almost done!
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Even veteran stage actors talk about the physical grind of doing stage.
I couldn’t do a longer run than this. Broadway commitments are four months; I just don’t know if I could do that. If I do a play it’s going to be a month or two, at most, otherwise I’m going to start hating it. You don’t want to start resenting going to work every day. It’s been two months and it’s been perfect.
Speaking of challenges, it seems like improvising with Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg might be difficult. Did you have to do much riffing?
Not for me, because I ad-lib but I don’t improvise. I’m not great at improv-ing. My brain doesn’t work that fast. Mark and Seth are really good at it, and they’re both really smart, and they have a great dynamic. They can riff off each other, and it’s so fun to watch. But I can’t do that. I’m terrible at it.
Do you tend to approach comedy and drama the same way?
You just have to ground yourself in what your reality is. If you believe in your own reality it’s even funnier. With Karen Smith [of “Mean Girls”], she just believed what she said. She was confident in what she was thinking, and it was all the funnier because it’s ridiculous what she believed. You just have to ground it, to play it straight.
This is your second film with Seth MacFarlane. What was your first meeting like?
He was a little shy at first. I’m very outspoken. I’m a little unfiltered and I say things to get a reaction, sometimes, when I’m nervous. I definitely said one thing, and his ears perked up and he said, “What?” I can’t really say what it was. I always, unconsciously or consciously, try to disarm people a little bit. I feel like I’m always fighting a stereotype about actresses or people my age or if I’m trying to get a job, which is why we first met. I was trying to play against the stereotype. I try to fight against people thinking they know who I am or have some kind of idea of me.
What do people tend to assume about you?
I notice that people just assume I’m going to be an a—hole.
Really, an a—hole?
Because I’m famous. Do you know how many f—ing flight attendants have said to me — I’m sure this happens all the time to many people — they say, “You’re actually really nice! I can’t believe how nice you are!” Their expectations are just so low sometimes. Bummer.
Still, you have a fairly goofy Instagram. That’s a good tip that you’re not a jerk.
I got to a million followers today. I told my agent, “I got to a million followers, and they’re all real people!” I’ve been growing them for three or four years now.
Were you reluctant to go on social media, especially since that exposes you to what can be, shall we say, less polite parts of the Internet?
I was so against it. I don’t want people to know more about me. But if you actually get a platform like that, you can promote anything you want, and people are going to listen. I meet a lot of my fans, especially now that I’m doing stage. If people want to come see me they can. They wait downstairs after the show and I come out and I see these younger girls and think, “They care what I have to say.” It’s all the more reason to be excited about my million followers. It’s really positive, whereas I used to make fun of it. There are still things about social media that make me want to throw up, like promoting yourself and your vanity. But I think it can be really good.
Both in “A Million Ways to the Die in the West” and “Ted 2,” MacFarlane throws in jokes about your eyes. How do you react to him doing it twice now?
Yeah, they’re pretty big. He’s safe with me; he can make fun of me. He can basically say anything. I can’t take myself too seriously. He wanted to make a Gollum joke, so why not? I guess it makes sense. I can say the day we shot the Gollum stuff [ed. There’s a joke in “Ted 2” in which Seyfried’s character is compared with someone who looks like Gollum.], that’s my best friend dressed as Gollum. She’s tiny like me.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge