- Seth Woodbury MacFarlane
October 26, 1973 (age 47)
- Actor, Television Producer, Composer, Animator, Voice Actor, Comedian, Singer, Film Director, Screen
- Ann Perry Sager, Ronald Milton MacFarlane
Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (born October 26, 1973) is an American television-series creator and filmmaker, working primarily in animation and comedy, as well as live action and other genres. He is the creator of the TV series Family Guy, co-creator of the TV series American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, and writer-director of the films Ted (2012), its sequel Ted 2 (2015), and A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014). His credits include production, direction, writing, acting, and voice acting. He is also a singer and pianist.
MacFarlane is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied animation. Recruited to Hollywood, he was an animator and writer for Hanna-Barbera for several television shows, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Dexter's Laboratory, I Am Weasel, and his own Family Guy-like "prequel", Larry & Steve.
As an actor, he has made guest appearances on shows, such as Gilmore Girls, The War at Home and FlashForward. In 2008, he created his own YouTube series titled Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. He won several awards for his work on Family Guy, including two Primetime Emmy Awards and an Annie Award. In 2009, he won the Webby Award for Film & Video Person of the Year. He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States, and he is a supporter of gay rights.
His first feature-length comedy film Ted also features MacFarlane's voice acting and performance-capture as a walking and talking teddy bear, and became the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy.
As a singer MacFarlane has performed at several venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. In 2011 MacFarlane released his debut album Music Is Better Than Words.
MacFarlane served as executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, an update of the 1980s Carl Sagan–hosted Cosmos series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. MacFarlane was instrumental in providing funding for the show, as well as securing studio support for it from other entertainment executives.
Early life and education
Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut. His parents, Ann Perry (née Sager; 1947–2010) and Ronald Milton MacFarlane (born 1946), were born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. His sister is voice actress Rachael Ann MacFarlane (born 1976). He is of English, Scottish, and Irish descent, with roots in New England going back to the 1600s, including descent from Mayflower passenger William Brewster. MacFarlane's parents met in 1970, when they both lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts, and married later that year. The couple moved to Kent in 1972, where Ann began working in the Admissions Office at South Kent School. She later worked in the College Guidance and Admissions Offices at the Kent School, a selective college preparatory school where Ronald also was a teacher. During his childhood, MacFarlane developed an interest in illustration and began drawing cartoon characters Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker, as early as two years old. By the age of five, MacFarlane knew that he would want to pursue a career in animation, and began by creating flip books, after his parents found a book on the subject for him. Four years later, aged nine, MacFarlane began publishing a weekly comic strip titled "Walter Crouton" for The Kent Good Times Dispatch, the local newspaper in Kent, Connecticut, which paid him five dollars per week. In one anecdote from the time, MacFarlane said in an October 2011 interview that as a child he was always "weirdly fascinated by the Communion ceremony". He created a strip with a character kneeling at the altar taking Communion and asking "Can I have fries with that?" The paper printed it and he got an "angry letter" from the local priest; it led to "sort of a little mini-controversy" in the town.
MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Kent School. While there, he continued experimenting with animation, and his parents gave him an 8 mm camera. MacFarlane went on to study film, video and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. As a student, he had originally intended to work for Disney, but changed his mind upon graduating. At RISD MacFarlane created a series of independent films, eventually meeting future Family Guy cast member Mike Henry, whose brother Patrick was MacFarlane's classmate. During his time at RISD, MacFarlane performed stand-up comedy. In his senior year at RISD MacFarlane created a thesis film titled The Life of Larry, which eventually would become the inspiration for Family Guy. MacFarlane's professor submitted his film to the animation studio Hanna-Barbera, where he was later hired.
MacFarlane was recruited during the senior film festival by development executive Ellen Cockrill and President Fred Seibert. He went to work at Hanna-Barbera (then Hanna-Barbera Cartoons) based on the writing content of The Life of Larry, rather than on cartooning ability. He was one of only a few people hired by the company solely based on writing talent. He worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series. He described the atmosphere at Hanna-Barbera as resembling an "old-fashioned Hollywood structure, where you move from one show to another or you jump from a writing job on one show to a storyboard job on another". MacFarlane worked on four television series during his tenure at the studio: Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, and Johnny Bravo. Working as both a writer and storyboard artist, MacFarlane spent the most time on Johnny Bravo. He found it easier to develop his own style at Johnny Bravo through the show's process of scriptwriting, which Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, and I Am Weasel did not use. As a part of the Johnny Bravo crew, MacFarlane met actors and voiceover artists such as Adam West and Jack Sheldon of Schoolhouse Rock! fame. Meeting these individuals later became significant to the production and success of his Family Guy series.
He also did freelance work for Walt Disney Television Animation, writing for Jungle Cubs, and for Nelvana, where he wrote for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Through strict observation of writing elements such as story progression, character stakes and plot points, MacFarlane found the work for Disney was, from a writing standpoint, very valuable in preparation for his career (particularly on Ace Ventura). MacFarlane also created and wrote a short titled Zoomates for Frederator Studios' Oh Yeah! Cartoons on Nickelodeon. In 1996, MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry entitled Larry & Steve, which features a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. The short was broadcast as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons. Executives at Fox saw both Larry shorts and negotiations soon began for a prime-time animated series.
MacFarlane has a second long-running, successful adult animated series in American Dad! which has been in production since early 2005. To date, American Dad! is MacFarlane's only animated series never to have suffered an official cancellation, though it did undergo a network relocation from Fox to TBS on October 20, 2014, following the show's 11th season. TBS announced on July 16, 2013, that they had picked up the series for a 15-episode 12th season. Reportedly, the purpose of the network relocation was originally to make room for new animated broadcasts on Fox's now defunct "Animation Domination" lineup. It was reported that the relocation of American Dad! allowed room for other shows, such as Mulaney and another animated series from Seth MacFarlane called Bordertown. Bordertown is slated to begin its run in the 2015–16 television season.
MacFarlane made his directorial live-action film debut with the release of Ted in 2012. He announced that he was directing it on an episode of Conan that aired on February 10, 2011. Along with directing the film, he also wrote the screenplay, served as producer, and starred as the title character.
The film tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear (MacFarlane) who keeps John and his girlfriend Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) from moving on with their lives.
It received generally favorable reviews from both critics and audiences, and was a box office success, opening with the highest weekend gross of all time for an original R-rated comedy. Internationally, the movie is currently the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time, beating The Hangover.
A sequel, Ted 2, was released on June 26, 2015.
He signed a record deal with Universal Republic Records and released a big band/standards album in 2011. MacFarlane's debut studio album, Music Is Better Than Words, was released on September 27, 2011, drawing on his training in and attraction to "the Great American Songbook and particularly the early- to late-'50s era of orchestration". The singer, asked about his experience with the music, said he did "old Nelson Riddle, Billy May charts [with] one of my composers, Ron Jones, [who] has a group called the Influence Jazz Orchestra that he performs with throughout L.A." His album was nominated in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category at the 54th Grammy Awards. Music Is Better Than Words received a score of 52 out of 100 on Metacritic's compilation of music critic reviews.
In a 2004 interview with The Daily Princetonian, MacFarlane noted his similarities to Brian Griffin from Family Guy, revealing, "I have some Brian type issues from time to time – looking for the right person – but I date as much as the next guy".
On July 16, 2010, MacFarlane's mother, Ann Perry Sager, died after a long battle with cancer. Her death was reported by Larry King on his show Larry King Live, who acknowledged a conversation he had with her during an interview with her son in May 2010.
In September 2012, MacFarlane was reported to be dating Emilia Clarke. In March 2013, it was reported that he and Clarke had ended their relationship.