By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Mark Wahlberg arrives for an interview with his arm in a brace. No, he didn’t get into a brawl and it isn’t a result of playing too many rounds of golf. (His current favorite pastime.)
The Dorchester, Mass. native reveals he is following a physiotherapist’s orders due to tendonitis—a condition that resulted while he was filming “Daddy’s Home,” a comedy he shot last December.
The one-time rapper turned actor/producer/entrepreneur forges ahead to promote “Ted 2,” the sequel to the 2012 hit comedy, in which he co-starred with a talking foulmouthed teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who also returns to direct and co-write the sequel’s screenplay).
Though still filled with raunchy humor, “Ted 2” explores more serious subjects like adoption and mixed marriage (human and teddy bear). Now single, John (Wahlberg) remains thunder buddies with Ted, who is married to the woman of his dreams (Jessica Barth). When the couple decide to adopt a baby they run into a roadblock because Ted is considered property not a human. He is therefore ineligible to adopt. That’s when they hire a pair of high-powered attorneys (Amanda Seyfried and Morgan Freeman) to represent their cause.
The 44-year-old Wahlberg spoke about reprising his role and reuniting with Ted/MacFarlane.
Q: The idea of a teddy bear wanting to be a father is a little out there, no?
Wahlberg: Well, yes. He realized that he’s incapable of physically impregnating his wife. We tried various things like trying to get Tom Brady’s sperm, me being a sperm donor, her not being able to conceive then trying to adopt, and they basically say, “Well, you’re not a person.” We started by suing the State of Massachusetts to prove that Ted is actually a person with feelings and emotions, and those were the things.
We’re on this crazy ride and I’m no longer married and don’t want to get involved in another relationship because I put my heart on the line and my heart was broken. So throughout the beginning of the movie, there are all these ridiculously attractive women trying to come on to Ted, and Ted is so upset that I won’t just take advantage of it.
Q: This is your first sequel, right?
Wahlberg: Yeah. Even though I was in the fourth installment of “Transformers,” it was still the first one for me. This is the first movie that I’ve actually done a sequel to. For me, it was just all about making sure that we’re doing something different, and forwarding the story and not just trying to capitalize on the success of the first one.
Q: Was it easier the second time around working with CGI-generated Ted?
Wahlberg: Yes, but I always feel very comfortable. One thing I noticed when I was watching the second one, it just seems seamless. It was like I’ve never been more natural. I think it’s just because I trust Seth (MacFarlane) and I know the process … and I like working with voices better than other actors now, anyway. (He laughs.)
Q: What do you like about his sense of humor?
Wahlberg: Everybody has to understand that if anybody is offended, it has to be directed towards Seth. I don’t take responsibility. I didn’t write it. I may say some of it but I was paid to do it.
Q: What do you like about it?
Wahlberg: It’s just kind of my sense of humor. We have a very similar sense of humor. It may be offensive to some people but I don’t take it too seriously and, hopefully, people won’t. Hopefully, people will know it’s all in fun.
Q: Did you improvise?
Wahlberg: We improvised a bit but he would just do such a great job of really kind of nailing the script that we’d play around a little bit here and there. Most of the time it’s pretty much on the page. I don’t have to really kind of go too far to discover something that’s more interesting or fresher.
Q: This one is a little more serious, right? The party’s over.
Wahlberg: No, the party is not over but there is a real quest to prove that Ted is real and he’s a person. He’s got feeling and should be considered and granted the same rights as a person.
Q: The first movie was so successful. What does it tell us about grown men actually crying over their teddy bear? Are they missing it? What’s the secret to this?
Wahlberg: I don’t know. It really just felt like here are two guys trying to hold onto their childhood or their teenage years. They’re not really being reluctant to grow up. In the first one, he had the relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) and he didn’t want to lose that. It was someone that he loved dearly but he also didn’t want to lose that great friendship that he had with his buddy, so he had to kind of figure out how to balance the two.
Whenever I go out with my friends, we want to play golf early in the morning and we keep doing it, giving each other ****. Nothing makes anybody happier than somebody hitting a bad shot or losing a golf ball.
Q: Has your wife seen the film and what did she say?
Wahlberg: Not yet. But I remember her reaction when I told her I was going to make the (original) movie and she was very upset. She found it to be ridiculous. It’s a hard concept to explain, and I said, “Well, listen, it’s this guy and his teddy bear comes to life.” “What?” “No, no, but that would be a lot of fun and I said crazy stuff.” But then I remember taking her to the movie and she couldn’t stop laughing.
Q: How about your children? What do they think?
Wahlberg: They can’t see it. They’re upset because they want to see it. They’ve seen the fight with me and Ted (from the first one) without sound but no, they can’t. The language is too coarse.
Q: Are you afraid of them being teenagers?
Wahlberg: Let’s put it this way, my daughter is 11 and going on 17. Pre-teen is bad enough, but it is what it is.
Q: You have kind of a gross-out scene in a sperm bank. Do you take it with a grain of salt that this is what you have to do as an actor?
Wahlberg: Yes. But when it’s all over you and it’s on your mouth, your eyes and all that. It’s like “ewwww.”
Q: Was there anything that you actually said, “No, I’m not actually going to do that.”
Wahlberg: There are a couple little things that may not agree with my spirituality, so I wouldn’t say certain things. So I’d have to tell them to change it to this or that. Seth would say, “Yeah, no problem. Maybe we’ll just have Ted say it.”
Q: On a more serious note, the sequel seems to be also speaking up for minorities such as Ted, the teddy bear. How much of a fighter for minority rights are you in real life? [
Wahlberg: I just hope that everybody gets a fair shot at being successful and treated the right way. Most of the work that we do is with inner city kids and at-risk youth. They’re kind of at a disadvantage. I just want to make sure that we give people equal opportunity to be successful in life and have access to things that everybody else has. But it’s a nice component in the movie. Seth does a good job of beating everybody out with his humor, insults and everything but also building everybody up.
Q: In “Ted 2,” you have that strong friendship with a teddy bear but in real life, how important are friendships for you and do you still have friends that you had when you were growing up?
Wahlberg: Yes. I have friends.
Q: Which you are still good friends with?
Wahlberg: My two best friends actually worked with me on “Ted 2,” and then they worked with me again on “Daddy’s Home,” which we just shot in Louisiana, and they’re going to come to work with me on (my next film) “Deepwater Horizon.”
Q: How much of Ted is in Seth?
Wahlberg: I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know him and work with him. He’s a brilliant guy. He’s very, very sweet. His sense of humor is pretty close to what you see on (the Fox TV series) “Family Guy” and what you see in “Ted.” So he’s very sweet and very smart and I enjoy working with him a lot.
Q: Are you like Ted? How much Ted is in you?
Wahlberg: (laughing) Oh, no, none.