As these jokes go...pretty benign! I saw him at a party and I had just seen Splice, which I thought was really f---ing good, so I went up to him and I said, ''Hey, I really dug your movie, I think you're a truly talented actor, and hopefully there's no hard feelings about our joke,'' and I...I was met with a less than enthusiastic response.
Do you hear from people with the opposite reaction, who think it's funny when they turn up on Family Guy? Johnny Depp says he's a huge fan, and you've mocked him from time to time.
Oh yeah, he came on and did a gag for the show, actually. It's funny, the quickest way to make sure that you never get made fun of on Family Guy again is to call us up and tell us you thought our gag was funny. Then we're like, "Oh God, you're a nice guy. Okay, you get a free pass forever."
Amanda Seyfried and Charlize Theron are in talks to join a comedy Western you're making, where you are a timid farmer who learns to become a gunslinger.
A Million Ways to Die in the West. [Online] they compared it with Blazing Saddles. It really is not anything like that, and I'm a huge Blazing Saddles fan. This is very much of today. Because Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, the writers I wrote Ted with, and I, we all love Westerns. It's funny that all these guys who stand for everything that I hate [politically], I find so watchable. Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Craig T. Nelson... It's a genre that is just ingrained in our American culture and yet nobody's really touched it comedically with any kind of effectiveness since Blazing Saddles, and that was 1974.
How does your personal life affect your creative life? You've been linked to [Game of Thrones'] Emilia Clarke. Would you now like to discuss the details of your romantic situation in a national magazine?
I'm always so habitually, instinctively silent about that stuff. I will say, she is an incredibly kind, supremely talented person and one of the hardest-working people I have ever met. It's a pain in the ass because if you date, at a certain point you're in a relationship and at a certain point you're playing the field. It becomes this thing of trying to find places where you can have some privacy, where you're not going to be accosted by people and suddenly linked to someone as if you're in a serious relationship.
[Laughs] And you don't want the press to help sort that out for you?
It can particularly f--- with people, if you're dating somebody who is not in the industry, who isn't accustomed to being chased by paparazzi. If it's somebody of quality, they don't like it. I've had that happen where they're like, "I don't really like this." And to me there's no better mark of somebody you actually want to be with than somebody who has that reaction. But it can be a real issue. It's really kind of creepy.
Your family sometimes turns up in your work. Your sister, Rachael MacFarlane, is a voice actress who has done work on your shows. And your father, Ron, has turned up too. You did a video where he was not so impressed to hear you were hosting the Oscars. Will he be part of the show?
He's going to the Oscars...but I don't know. [Pauses, then smiles] Yeah, hell, maybe I'll call him up. He's definitely a little more shy than I am. I think I used to be more like that, and because of my job I've had to shake some of that off.
Your mom passed away in 2010. Both of your parents were teachers?
My dad was a teacher, yeah. Retired. My parents both worked at private boarding schools. He taught. My mother, she worked in admissions at one point, then worked in college guidance. She was much more outgoing than either of us. I don't consider myself a gregarious, outgoing, social person. At least, not sober. [Laughs] My mother could be in a room with three other people having a conversation, and you could stand in another room and it would sound like there were 20 people in that room. She was full of an energy completely unique within the family and very much missed.
What kind of energy?
Every movie that my mother went to see was the best movie ever. She spoke only in superlatives. I remember my mother coming out of The Terminal, saying, "That is the BEST that Tom Hanks has EVER been in his entire career." And this is what I love, she said this without irony: "He was even better than he was in The 'Burbs."
I love that. And I love The 'Burbs!
I do too! And I quote that with great pride in her honesty and sense of quality.