BEAR IN THERE
TED IS BACK AND READY TO CAUSE TROUBLE ON THE BIG SCREEN WITH HIS TRUSTY SIDEKICK MARK WAHLBERG
Marriage and impending fatherhood have mellowed Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed Ted in the hotly anticipated sequel to his 2012 hit. Mark Wahlberg, who plays the talking stuffed toy’s best mate, John Bennett, admits to having become similarly domesticated.
The one-time juvenile delinquent, who was jailed at the age of 16 for assault, is now a God-fearing father of four whose preferred method of travel is a mini-van.
“What’s wrong with that?” he laughs before saying that even his wife, Rhea Durham, thinks he’s gone too far with that one. “She hates it. She’s got an SUV with the kids but she thinks that’s far enough.”
Wahlberg, however, believes his beloved Toyota Sienna is seriously underrated.
“I love being in the minivan – it’s low-key so nobody recognises me. And it’s got satellite TV. If somebody takes me to the airport, I can sit in the back and watch the basketball or a football game.”
Although at 44, the actor could reasonably be described as middle-aged, he makes no apologies for Ted 2’s crude, vulgar, adolescent humour.
“We all have that adolescent side to us. I certainly do,’’ he says.
“I am very serious and professional with my work but I like to cut loose and have laughs with my buddies and you know, go and do things that my wife would have to scold me for – pulling pranks on each other and giving each other crap.”
But at its core, the sequel is underpinned by a surprisingly serious message.
When the furry protagonist decides to father a child to save his marriage to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), he encounters a series of problems.
“The most obvious being that he doesn’t have a penis,’’ Wahlberg points out helpfully.
Ted’s first plan is to find a sperm donor. When that doesn’t work out (no spoilers here), he decides to adopt.
“That’s when the authorities say, basically, that he is not a real person so we decide to sue for his civil rights,’’ Wahlberg says.
Ted’s lack of citizenship resonates strongly in relation to gay marriage, which the film acknowledges directly, but also the growing tide of refugees and even threats to render terrorists stateless.
“I think Ted being so cute can push these ideas in a harsh way but still be acceptable,’’ the actor says.
For Wahlberg, the strangest moment of acting alongside a teddy bear comes when he sees the finished film.
“When it comes together, it seems so real. And people, well they just buy it straight away.”
In the sequel, Morgan Freeman’s leading civil rights lawyer refuses to represent Ted because he says he hasn’t contributed anything to society, stressing that that is an essential element in being a member of the human race.
Wahlberg, who established the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation almost 15 years ago to help disadvantaged youth, agrees.
“For me it is extremely important. I can’t forget about where I come from – there are so many kids still in need of an opportunity to have a better life.”
While Ted’s sense of humour is so mean it could almost be called sadistic, not quite anything goes.
“For me, I don’t say anything that is offensive towards religion. I tell Seth I don’t want to go there. I say, ‘You can say it, Ted can say it, but that’s not me.’”
Giant robots, talking teddy bears … is there anything in Wahlberg’s list of upcoming projects that could top that?
“I have gone back to real people for a little while,’’ says Wahlberg, putting paid to talk of another Transformers sequel.
Wahlberg is currently shooting Deepwater Horizon with director Peter Berg. Costarring Kate Hudson, the film is based on the true story of the offshore drilling rig that exploded in 2010, creating the worst oil spill in US history.
Ted 2 opens today
I AM VERY SERIOUS AND PROFESSIONAL WITH MY WORK BUT I LIKE TO CUT LOOSE AND HAVE LAUGHS WITH MY BUDDIES
Mark Wahlberg and Seth Macfarlane's Ted in a scene from Ted 2.