Seth MacFarlane might have the darkest sense of humor on network television. After 188 episodes (and counting) of his animated stalwart, Family Guy, viewers have become accustomed to savage beatings, shaken-baby syndrome, and sex trafficking, among other unpleasantries—all played for laughs.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Ted, MacFarlane’s big-screen debut out on June 29, involves a weed-smoking, feel-copping, talking teddy bear. (Nor should we be surprised that MacFarlane, who performs five regular roles on Family Guy, voices Ted.) But he’s not stopping there; next year he’s bringing back Carl Sagan’s classic PBS science series Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thankfully, the writer/voice actor/director/producer/teddy bear was all too happy to show us his dark side.

Wired: Ted stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis are no strangers to off-color material, but you can’t just turn them into human versions of the Griffins. How did you give your usually R-rated comedy a real-life core?

Seth MacFarlane: There are episodes of Family Guy—notoriously—that exist completely to service the comedy, and story be damned. Ted was an instance where the story came first. We constructed it as a romantic comedy and tried to ignore the fact that one of the characters was a teddy bear. We have an early version that was a little heavy on raunchy jokes, but by the end of test screenings we were able to find a balance.

Wired: You donned the motion-capture suit to “play” Ted. Why not animate the bear?

MacFarlane: Even the best animator in the world isn’t going to capture the subtlety of human movements. The stiffness drives me nuts.

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