Actor Michael Dorn from Ted 2 spoke to us about the movie, what it’s like working with Seth Macfarlane, and his own childhood dreams, ahead of the DVD release of the American comedy today.
What am I finding you up to? How’s the day treating you?
It’s fantastic. I live away from LA now, so I take the train in and I do all my auditions, I had three auditions today for voice over. Then I had to go see a buddy of mine in the area- on my way back to the train now.
You may be the only person I know that gets the train to LA.
I know. I feel like I’m on the East Coast in the 50s or something.
Thank god for the metro line there now, it used to not even have that. They’re starting to get their stuff together.
Yeah it’s ridiculous because, I remember when we had the train and the electric cable cars in downtown LA and they took off all the tracks and then they had to lay them back down because they’re building another metro system in LA now.
They’re doing the same thing in Sydney. I mean Sydney doesn’t have the worst public transport in the world, they did the exact same thing, they got rid of all the cable cars, and now they’ve decided ‘hey we need cable cars! Let’s put them back in!’
I know, it’s like a bunch of people sitting around, ‘what do you think we should do? Oh yeah they had something years ago, oh yeah! Cable cars!’ It’s insane.
Yeah backward thinking or forward thinking, it’s one or the other.
Yeah it’s backward thinking.
We’re here to talk about Ted 2, which is getting released on DVD today. Your relationship with Seth MacFarlane goes back a little while. Can you tell me the first time he approached you to be involved in his other well-known animated TV series?
His company approached all of us from Next Generation. They had this idea to take off and we all said yes. It’s not a difficult job, it’s just a few lines and then you go home. I think all of us really liked Seth just because he seemed like a good guy, and his work is really inventive, at least I think so. Pushes the envelope and we all liked that. We all met him at different times because of the way they shoot and do the voice over; so one person would come in for two minutes then another person would come in and they did that until all of us had done our jobs, it was very easy, wasn’t difficult at all.
But for me, what happened was that he is a big fan of the show and one night Patrick, Jonathan and I were having dinner and Seth was with Patrick and said ‘hey can I come along?’ and Patrick said ‘yeah sure!’ and so he came along and we had a great time. And that’s how the relationship started. He’s a good guy. He’s smart, he knows his stuff. He’s not baneful. He makes it easy for everybody. So I had a ball, it was a very good transition.
Moving into Ted 2. A different scenario for you in terms of the style of film making, rather than just doing voice over or voice acting for him. What was it like working on the film with him?
It was very much the same thing. There was no fuss, no muss, there wasn’t a lot of issues, as can happen with directors that I’ve worked with before.
Some of the scenes you did in the film, the most memorable was when you went to Comic Con. What was it like doing that scene? What was it like being on the other side of that world?
That was a big deal. I’ve been to the conventions. Once you’re immersed in it like all of us have been, none of that is really different or odd for some reason. But what was strange, was getting in the make up again, even though it wasn’t the full make up, just getting into it a little bit was crazy. I was like ‘this is insane, I don’t know how I look’ it was pretty tedious you know.
That was the one thing that we laughed about, a great story is that the girl that did my make up on Deep Space Nine for four years, they called her and asked if she could do this for them, she was on set for three or four days for me, and she did the makeup, we were laughing, we had a great time. But, the whole joke was that the makeup was really bad and so for the first time in her life she had to do really bad makeup. All day she’d go, ‘Michael, can I just blend the edges a little bit’ ‘No! It’s got to look bad!’.
How long had it been since you were last in that make up chair, in a good or bad form?
That was thirteen years ago, for the last movie. Seth was really great because I had some concerns about the part and the makeup and all that stuff and we talked about it. The thing I like about directors like Seth, there are some directors, and you know this immediately, if you go to a director or a writer or a producer, and you come up with an idea, and they immediately shoot you down, they’re not very confident in their own abilities.
If a writer goes, ‘just do it like I wrote it’; you know they’re not the greatest writers ever anyway. And so Seth was like ‘what do you think?’ and at least he’d listen to me, he’d go, ‘yeah you know what, try that!’ It wasn’t an immediate, ‘no we don’t want to do that.’ So that was really good about Seth, I really liked that
It just sounds like he’s a fan anyway- of Star Trek and of you and everything else, so that kind of helps as well
Yeah and I guess being a director he can allow the actors not to go crazy but to be part of the process, or if there’s an issue about something like if you have a line you don’t understand, he knows exactly ‘okay this is the way it’s supposed to be’ or ‘this is what I’m trying to say’ you know and you go ‘oh okay great, I get it now’.
When Ted first came out the concept was so well received and on paper just like anything Seth Macfarlane does it was absolutely ridiculous but it worked. Have you ever thought about in that context of ‘if I was a kid and made a wish for something and it came true what would that have been’ what might you have wished for as a kid?
Oh that’s easy to be a test pilot at Edwards Airforce Base in the 50s and 60s.
You’ve clearly been asked this question before!
Oh no, no I haven’t this is the first time.
Well there you go, I thought I was being unoriginal.
No your question was original it’s just that I’m very clear about that particular wish in my life so that was something that I thought about and dreamed about so if I had that wish, that’s what it would be.
You are a pilot yourself nowadays aren’t you?
Oh yeah I’ve been flying since 1988
Have you ever had a Harrison Ford moment and wound up on a golf course
No not at all, I mean I did have a moment where I had to put the airplane down on this military base because there was a problem with the engine so I tried to set down the engine and glide in and it was an F86 so it’s a single seat fighter. I felt like Chuck Yeager, that was my Chuck Yeager moment where I did it and I did it very well and everybody was like ‘oh that was really good Mike you did a nice job’ and I’m like ‘well thank you very much’.
It’s what I meant to do, it was my plan all along!
Well of course it’s the most topical thing at the moment, J.J. Abrams who took over the Star Trek franchise, is now taking over the Star Wars franchise at least for one film. How do you feel J.J did with Star Trek and what are you expecting from the Star Wars film?
Well I think he did exactly what the studio and what he wanted to do which was re-energize the franchise and he did it in a way that is in keeping with the sensibility of the movie goers which are the kids these days, the people that grew up on –not so much on Star Wars– but grew up with the huge amount of video games and Transformer movies.
The attention span of the average Joe teenager is about ten seconds maybe, in order to get that audience you had to come up with something that was grand on a grand scale and I think he did that, it’s worked very well and if it didn’t work very well then Paramount wouldn’t do it again so I think he did a good job. Star Wars… I don’t know I think the last three Star Wars movies, it really kind of put a skew to the whole franchise, not in a negative way but kind of an ‘okay what’s this going to be like’.
I think it’s so far away from the first three that you’re just kind of holding your tongue until you’re actually in the theatre having the experience. It’s like a girlfriend that burns you and then wants to go out with you again it’s like ‘woah okay we’ll have dinner first and see how it goes from there’.
God knows we’ll all be doing that in a month or so but I really appreciate your time, hopefully we see you again soon in Ted 3 or whatever comes next.
Sounds great, I appreciate it.
Enjoy the train trip and we’ll speak to you soon.
Thanks a lot.
Ted 2 is released on blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD today. Head to the website for more information.