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Mark Wahlberg reunites with the Seth MacFarlane-voiced talking teddy bear in "Ted |Universal Pictures2/2
Mark Wahlberg reunites with the Seth MacFarlane-voiced talking teddy bear in "Ted |Universal Pictures
Mark Wahlberg doesn’t do sequels. For years there’s been talk of a second “Italian Job,” a second “Four Brothers,” even a follow-up to “The Fighter” that follows other boxers. But so far nothing has materialized, in part because he’s picky.
“When people talk about sequels I always just shrug it off,” Wahlberg tells us. “If they develop a script I’ll take a look at it. I always want to do something different and change the dynamic.”
And yet here’s “Ted 2,” his first sequel and a fairly different film than 2011’s “Ted,” in which he played the owner/friend of a magically sentient talking bear, voiced by co-writer/director Seth MacFarlane.
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“It was only worth doing it if we could make it better than the first. It had to be its own thing,” says Wahlberg.
Part of that had to do with getting another chance to work and hang with MacFarlane. “Seth and I really have a lot in common. We have a knowledge of old, old television from the ’70s and ’80s,” he explains.
That’s one reason they’re comfortable together onscreen, though they’re not as ad-lib-heavy as it may seem. “We play around a lot. But the writers are so good you don’t need to improv so much. You might find yourself in a scene where you need to interject life into it. But it’s not as necessary as it is in other situations.”
The concept of Mark Wahlberg as a comedic actor shouldn’t be too odd by now. Though he wasn’t in full-blown comedies until “The Other Guys,” with Will Ferrell, and “Date Night,” he played amusingly oblivious in “I Heart Huckabees” and stole every scene he had as a cocky insult machine in “The Departed.” He’s reunited with that film’s foul-mouthed screenwriter, William Monahan, twice, including last year’s deeply sarcastic “The Gambler” and a small part in his upcoming film “Mojave.”
“His scripts just speak to my own sense of humor, the way I look at stuff,” Wahlberg says of Monahan’s work. “I just love the rhythm of his writing. He gets me.”
Not that MacFarlane isn't edgy himself. The "Family Guy" guy’s reputation for shocking people is very much in play in “Ted 2,” which includes race and gay jokes, plus one about Charlie Hebdo. Wahlberg doesn’t really think about those offending when shooting.
“It’s one of those things where we shoot it, put it in front of an audience and see how people respond,” he says. “He doesn’t like to be censored, to be sure.”
Wahlberg doesn’t even get shaken by the “Ted” films’ most challenging aspect: believably conversing with a CGI talking teddy bear. MacFarlane riffs with Wahlberg from behind the camera while his co-star pretends he’s talking to what will later be a special effect.
“I feel like he’s real. And if I believe it, I feel I can convince an audience,” he says of his methodology. “That’s the only thing I want to do: I want to make it real. We want to make it look real — not make a joke of it and wink at the audience.”
Wahlberg has confessed that he’s watched MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” with at least some of his four kids, none of them over 11, but films like these are verboten.
“My wife would kill me,” he tells us. “The only thing I showed my sons was the fight scene from the first one, but with no sound.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge