The Final Member: MacFarlane as Ted
The first actor cast was the same one helming the film. Doing quadruple duty
on set, MacFarlane realized the character of Ted through the combination of the
vocal and physical performance. This was coordinated by MacFarlane wearing a
motion-capture suit and the postproduction work of the visual effects team
headed by VFX producer JENNY FULLE of The Creative-Cartel and VFX supervisor
MacFarlane explains the process: "It was necessary to have the suit there
every day and for me to do a lot of the directing work with it on. So it had to
be something that was comfortable. Jason Clark found this company that had a
unique technology called Moven, and there are straps that go over your everyday
clothes. There were days when I had to have it on the entire day, so it had to
be something that was going to capture the data that we needed but wasn't going
to be constrictive or distracting."
The filmmakers' primary focus was to give each scene the feel of two live
actors working in the same environment. Often the voices for CG characters have
to be done weeks before or weeks after the scene is shot, and the result is that
it doesn't quite connect with the actors who are on screen. "To get spontaneity,
Seth was on the set in his suit working directly with the actors so it's not
dubbed over later," explains Jacobs. "It's like a live performance between him
and the other actors. He was able to trade riffs with Mark or Mila or Joel. It
makes a big difference, especially for comedy and for the improv that occurs
"In a perfect world, the performance of Ted is the same as everyone else's
performance," states MacFarlane. "It's the same level of reality. Who Framed
Roger Rabbit is a great film and many of the techniques utilized in that movie
are utilized in this one, but we didn't want to create the scenario in which
there are the people and there are the cartoons. We wanted them all to be
people, one of whom happens to have the body of a teddy bear. The trick was to
treat Ted the same way as we treated everyone else. We avoided anything that
would remind you that he's just not another person, like having anyone have to
lift him up to get to a high place.
"The guy I look to as the epitome of doing that right was Jim Henson,"
continues the director. "The Muppets were real people; in that world it was
normal for Muppets to be walking around. In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit and
Fozzie work at a newspaper and Jack Warden is their boss. They have the same
relationship that newspapermen and their boss have in any movie, they just
happen to be puppets. That was what we wanted."
Stuber agrees with his director. He says: "The movie doesn't work if you
don't believe that bear is real and has a personality and dimension next to
John. That was the big overcome. So once that worked, we knew that movie would
work. Seth spent a lot of time on the animation, on the reality of the voice and
on the reality of the movements. That helped all of the actors who worked
So what was the inspiration for Ted's voice? "I'm from New England,"
MacFarlane notes, "and a lot of my family is from the Boston area so I grew up
with plenty of Bostonians and Rhode Islanders. Ted's voice is a melting pot of
voices, but deliberately more real sounding than, say, Peter's, Brian's or
Stewie's in Family Guy."
When Ted is a young talking cub, he is played by actor ZANE COWANS, who also
plays the chief bully that gives young John such a hard time early in the film.
What was good for MacFarlane was good for the young actor, and Cowans also
performed the dialogue live while strapped into the Moven suit.
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