Seth MacFarlane is the perfect host. Just ask the flu virus that has taken up residence in his system.
Three weeks before the Oscars, the first-time emcee of the show is sick as hell with what seems to be the same bug that waylaid Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence as they traveled the trophy circuit in recent weeks. ”I’ve literally been to the doctor every day over the past week because I’m so ravaged by this,” MacFarlane says, with a noticeable rasp in his usually smooth-jazz radio voice. ”I’m legitimately concerned.”
The 39-year-old creator of Family Guy and last year’s blockbuster comedy Ted has no time to wallow. He has three animated TV shows to run and is in preproduction on a comedy-Western film that starts shooting this spring. Of course, he’s also about to headline an Academy Awards telecast (Feb. 24 on ABC) that is particularly song-and-dance heavy. MacFarlane is just trying to hold it together.
Luckily, he was able to convalesce for a few days, as telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron met with the show’s top staff to reschedule his dance and singing rehearsals, comedy-routine taping, and monologue writing — adjusting locations to cut down on drive time.
A few days later, MacFarlane is back on his feet, walking through the Dolby Theatre as workers build the stage where he’ll stand before an audience of tens of millions. He doesn’t say much, which is unusual for the rapid-fire funnyman. Pensive? No, just a sore throat. ”I’m feeling my voice f—ing go and having a private panic attack,” says MacFarlane, sitting in one of the basement dressing rooms, where he cuts short an interview after just 20 minutes, hoping to save his voice for a pretaped musical bit scheduled afterward. ”If I’m croaking my way through this, I’m f—ed,” he says apologetically.
The next day, he looks and sounds better, sitting at a booth in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge, knocking back cups of coffee. His voice is back, and with all the characters he plays, it’s wild to realize that this one is actually his own.
How much has being sick set you back?
For the Oscars it’ll be fine; it’s Family Guy that’s always a nightmare. Anytime I get sick it just backs up the schedule, which has always been a fundamental flaw in the way that the show works.
You write, produce, and voice Peter Griffin, evil Stewie, Quagmire the perv, and Brian the dog. Does that cause havoc with your vocal cords?
Generally, they can take pretty much anything after a night’s sleep. But when I was 25 I could record for six hours at a time and be screaming into a microphone and I’d be fine. That I can’t do anymore.