Seth MacFarlane may have snagged one of the most prized slots in Hollywood as the host of next year’s Oscars, but apparently he’s as hard on himself, deeply self-conscious, and afraid of failing as the next guy.
At least that’s what the Family Guy creator revealed on Tuesday - a day after the widespread announcement he would host the 85th annual Academy Awards - at TheWrap.com’s third annual media leadership conference TheGrill, in West Hollywood. MacFarlane spoke to the site’s founder and CEO Sharon Waxman in an on-stage keynote called Seth MacFarlane: Interview With a Demented Genius.
MacFarlane has had a busy past few months, from hosting Saturday Night Live to being a presenter at the Primetime Emmy Awards last month to his new Oscar gig. Tuesday, MacFarlane was the casual opposite of upscale Oscar chic in jeans, a blue-and-white checked shirt and grey Converse without laces, his short brown hair slicked into place, grinning a wide-mouthed smile, writer-animator-voiceover artist MacFarlane gave hope to self-deprecating creative types everywhere.
MacFarlane deferred to his New England roots, where, he said, there’s a common denominator “sense of being undeserving, or not quite good enough, or generally self loathing, or constantly beating yourself up internally in every way you can possibly conceive.”
“My thought is always, ‘It’s only downhill from here,’” said MacFarlane, to Waxman. “That’s how I’ve always operated, ever since I began Family Guy. I had the crippling fear that I used up all the funny last week. That crippling insecurity really drives you to do your best. … Your moments of pure joy are few and far between, but they do exist.”
So when it comes to hosting the Oscars, broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, MacFarlane said he wanted to stay “true to the classy Bob Hope-esque tone.” Remember, he did don a retro Rat Pack-ish white suit as a presenter at the Emmys.
Still, even with that crippling insecurity, he said he felt more freaked out about directing this year’s dark comedy Ted, which he also co-wrote and starred in as a filthy-mouthed, talking teddy bear and warped buddy to Mark Wahlberg.
“Ted scared the s–t out of me. I had never done a movie before. Suddenly I was afraid again of what I was doing,” said MacFarlane. “Strangely, I think directing a movie was more terrifying than the Oscars.”
His favorite Oscar host of all time? “To me, it’s hands down Johnny Carson,” he said. His favorite host since 1995? Billy Crystal, nine-time host and a fill-in this year for Eddie Murphy, who dropped out after Brett Ratner resigned from his role as the telecast’s producer after making homophobic comments.
MacFarlane also described himself as “kind of a control freak,” given his multi-layered role voicing many of the characters on Family Guy due to the show’s cost early on, and also writing the show’s jokes. “I write with my ears,” he said.
As for future projects beyond Family Guy, which, after 10 years on the air, “can continue as long as people want to see it,” MacFarlane said, he’s working on the other animated shows he’s created, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!, and a sequel to Ted had been discussed, but not yet written, MacFarlane added.
“I was a huge Star Trek fan. I loved the Twilight Zone growing up. In the future, I hope to create some thoughtful, sci-fi drama,” mused MacFarlane, when asked by an audience member if he would move beyond comedy.
EW also asked about a long awaited Family Guy film, which MacFarlane wavered on.
“We have an idea of what the Family Guy movie would be, but it’s been sitting around for a couple of years,” said MacFarlane. “It’s something we would ultimately like to do. I was there everyday [on Family Guy] for so long. I’ll probably want to give it a couple more years before I jump back into it. … It’s a very human thing. The average person has eight different jobs over the course of their lifetime. You get a little antsy doing the same thing.”
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