A few weeks ago, Frankford native Jessica Barth, who plays a vulgar tart in the new R-rated comedy movie Ted, was counting down the days before its release.
The movie premiered on June 21 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. They rolled out the red carpet, and the paparazzi were out in full force. Jon Voight, Penny Marshall and the Farrelly Brothers were among the celebrities who showed up.
ldquo;I was nervous and excited,” Barth said in a phone interview earlier this week.
Barth’s nerves soon calmed when she saw the audience’s reaction to the film.
ldquo;People loved it. They were cracking up,” she said.
On opening day, the film grossed $20.2 million and had taken in $133 million as of Friday, second only to The Amazing Spider-Man, which had grossed $160 million, according to the Box Office at Hollywood.com.
Ted easily topped its closest comedy competitor, Magic Mike, which debuted the same day. It also became the top-performing original, R-rated comedy, outpacing 2009’s The Hangover.
Reviews were generally positive and critic Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars out of 4. He wrote that it was “the best comedy screenplay so far (this year).”
ldquo;That’s good for Seth,” Barth said.
The actress was speaking of Seth MacFarlane, the co-writer/director/producer and voice of Ted, a teddy bear who comes to life because of a childhood wish. With the film, MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, was making his feature-length directorial debut.
ldquo;They don’t get more creative than Seth MacFarlane,” Barth said.
Barth herself got a shout-out in a review. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Jessica Barth goes the extra mile with limited lines to grab laughs as a vulgar tart who’s game for a wild fling with Ted.”
Barth said she’s nothing like her character, Tami-Lynn, who is Ted’s superficial girlfriend.
“I’m a good actress,” she joked.
In preparing for the role, Barth had to learn a Boston accent, did some research on streetwise lingo, ala Jersey Shore, and got a Snooki-type hairdo.
ldquo;It was really fun doing research and getting into that character,” she said.
Filming the scenes without the teddy bear present was another challenge. Ted was added to scenes after filming.
Ted, which runs 106 minutes, was filmed in Boston in the spring and summer of 2011. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton, Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi.
Ryan Reynolds makes a cameo. Tom Skerritt, Norah Jones and Sam J. Jones play themselves.
Wahlberg plays John Bennett, whose teddy bear comes to life, and Kunis plays Bennett’s girlfriend, Lori Collins.
Ted is a large, obscene, obnoxious teddy bear who’s been around for four years. He works at a grocery store with Tami-Lynn, and the two have a make-out scene.
The relationship between John and Lori sours when he starts spending more time with Ted than with his girlfriend. Eventually, Ted gets his own apartment.
The movie originally was scheduled to be released on July 13, but the premiere was moved up two weeks when the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation was delayed until next year. The move allowed Universal Pictures to avoid opening Ted against Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Ted opened in Australia on July 5 and will debut in the United Kingdom on Aug. 1.
Barth had seen a rough cut of the movie last year, and she credits MacFarlane with doing a great job during the post-production period. She’s not surprised audiences like it.
ldquo;You really care about each one of the characters,” she said.
Following the June 21 showing, Barth and the cast attended an after-party at a Hollywood hotel and then an after-after-party at MacFarlane’s house.
Later, she and some family and friends saw a private screening in Pasadena. She needed to see it again to hear all of the jokes missed during the extended laughter at the premiere.
Next up will be a DVD release, which will include additional features, such as the “making of” Ted.
Back in Philadelphia, her family got together to watch the film at AMC Franklin Mills. Family and friends have given her the thumbs-up in Facebook messages.
“Philadelphia couldn’t be more supportive. They’re such warm people,” she said. “It means so much. I’m so grateful.”
Barth is a graduate of Fox Chase Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Northeast High School and West Chester University. She’s been in California since October 2001, driving cross-country a few months after graduating from college with a theater arts and creative writing degree.
Since then, she had a small part in the movie Get Smart and has had various roles in television series. To help pay the bills, she also spent eight years waitressing at a bar and grill in Burbank.
Since completing the filming of Ted, she appeared on an episode of the ABC Family comedy Melissa & Joey and in the short drama Politico. She plans a return trip to Philadelphia next month.
The movie has made her summer.
ldquo;It’s been the highlight of my career,” she said.
Barth is hoping to have an even bigger highlight, should there be a Ted 2.
“It did so well at the box office and is getting really good reviews. I think they’re in talks about a sequel,” she said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org