Sam Jones talks TED
Most children of the 80s know exactly who Sam Jones is, but for those of you who don’t, he was the incomparable “Savior of the Universe,” Flash Gordon himself. He’s been laying low for some time now, but when he decided to come back into the public eye, he did it with a bang. Seth McFarlane‘s childhood hero plays a parody of himself in McFarlane’s first feature film endeavor, TED, on BluRay and DVD today.
Ted (McFarlane) is a teddy bear who is brought to life after 8-year-old John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) makes a wish on a shooting star that his stuffed animal could come to life and be friends with him forever. Twenty-seven years later, try as John might to become an adult for his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), he is stuck in adolescence with his obscene, foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear.
Jones appears in the R-rated comedy as an “extreme version” of himself, playing against the character most know him as. John and Ted are huge fans of Flash Gordon, and when Ted becomes friends with Sam Jones, John is in for one of the wildest nights of his life with his talking teddy bear and the real-life Flash Gordon. Jones spoke to The Reel Story about McFarlane’s work, his affinity for comedy, and what it was like working with a CGI teddy bear.
AG: Can you explain to me how you got involved in this project?
SJ: Seth called me personally. He called me out of the blue to let me know that he was a big fan of Flash Gordon and saw Flash Gordon at a very young age. He said that I inspired him to be this creative guy, to pursue the entertainment industry. I thought that was really cool, and the next question was he wanted to know if I was interested in being a part of this film. I said, “Absolutely. Let’s take a look at the script, let’s have a meeting, and let’s take it from there.” That’s exactly what happened.
AG: Were you a fan of Seth McFarlane’s work before you took the part in this film?
SJ: I respected his work. The fact that it’s a franchise – the three shows that he does – I’ve got a lot of respect for him for doing that. I like the guy a lot. This is going back to October 2010.
AG: What was your greatest motivation to take part in the film? What made you really want to do this?
SJ: I had been out of it for a while, and I always knew that I would be working in the business in my later years. I just always knew that. It was a great opportunity, and I wasn’t about to pass this up. I thought it was a bit challenging to sort of play myself, but not really myself. Parts and pieces of me – not all of these – were a bit of a challenge to portray without confusing everybody. I thought, “Let’s do it,” you know?
AG: Everybody knows Flash Gordon, so what was it like to kind of switch gears and play this parody of yourself, going against these preconceptions people have of you because of Flash Gordon?
SJ: I’ve done comedy before. I enjoy comedy. A lot of people don’t know I’ve done features and TV shows and guest spots, lots of different characters other than a super hero, and I just enjoy it. I really enjoy doing comedy. Look at my character, Flash Gordon. He does some things that are very funny (laughs).
AG: What was your favorite scene to film in this movie?
SJ: I enjoyed the scenes with [Mark] Wahlberg, and of course the Japanese guy who was having a flashback. It was just a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. We got a little bit carried away when he stuck the butcher knife through the little hole, and I end up biting his arm. I said, “I’m just going to do what feels natural.” When he stuck the knife through the hole, I said, “I’m probably going to bite down on your hand, and when I do, you need to drop the knife.” So he says okay, and I guess he got a little bit excited. When I bit down, he didn’t drop the knife, so I just kept digging my teeth deeper into his hand (laughs). He had a few teeth marks on his hand there for a while.
AG: What was it like filming scenes with Ted, the teddy bear?
SJ: It was a bit challenging, but I’m used to that stuff. I’m used to doing a scene with an actor who’s either not there, or he or she is there but you’re not getting much from them (laughs). So with the computer generated effects and all that, I had Seth’s voice in my ear. He gave me a little “earwig” for inside my ear so I could listen to him. He was obviously directing, but he was also playing Ted. So I’m looking at a little [c-stand] with a little piece of tape on it, and that’s the teddy bear. His voice came into my ear, so that’s how I did it.
AG: Speaking of teddy bear, did you have a favorite toy or stuffed animal growing up? If you did, what would you have done if it came to life like Ted?
SJ: I had a big imagination as a kid. My parents would put us out in the backyard, and we would go out in the woods a lot of times. We would just make our own toys, pick up a couple twigs and make swords out of them. We’d use a lot of rocks and target practice on a tree. A lot of that. I grew up in Tennessee and places like that. I didn’t really have a favorite toy, though. What I really did like were those toy soldiers, those little army guys. I didn’t have a whole lot of those, but when I got them, I played with them a lot as a kid.
AG: Do you have any last words for the readers here in Houston about yourself or about the film on DVD?
SJ: I believe they’re going to laugh, because obviously, the numbers don’t lie. I mean, it’s the number one R-rated movie of all time. At the box office, it’s made well over half a billion dollars. I know maybe six or seven weeks ago, it surpassed 500 million, so it could be close to 600 million right now. A lot of people have enjoyed it. You can’t take the family, but as a family man myself, there is some offensive language. You just have to be careful with the younger kids. For instance, I think teenagers who have their head together and can look at this as a fun time, it’s a movie. Just go out, take the family, and have a good time. Actually, you don’t even have to go out, because it’s now on BluRay and DVD! All of my kids have seen it, except for my 11-year-old. Pop some popcorn at home and watch it.