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Seth MacFarlane Biography

Home > Actors > M > MacFarlane, Seth > Biography

Birth Name: Seth MacFarlane
Born: 10/26/1973
Birth Place: Kent, Connecticut, USA

MacFarlane was born in Kent, CT on Oct. 26, 1973. At age eight, he authored a comic strip that was picked up by his hometown newspaper. A few years later, he became interested in pursuing a career in animation when he saw a television special segment profiling a young animator. To that end, he headed to the Rhode Island School of Design where he majored in animation, learned about the business, and began to find his own voice. A RISD professor sent MacFarlane's thesis film, "Life of Larry" - a precursor to "Family Guy" - to Hanna-Barbera Productions, which hired MacFarlane after his 1995 graduation. Relocating to Los Angeles, MacFarlane wrote and directed shorts and was a storyboard artist for "Johnny Bravo" (Cartoon Network, 1997-2004), "Dexter's Laboratory" (Cartoon Network, 1997-2004), and "Jungle Cubs" (ABC, 1996-98; Disney Channel, 1998-2000), as well as worked on an episode of "Cow & Chicken" (Cartoon Network, 1997-2000). In 1996, MacFarlane expanded his earlier thesis film into "Larry & Steve," and the comedy short caught the attention of the executives at Fox who offered him a deal to create animated featurettes to air on "Mad TV" (Fox, 1995-2009). The deal fell apart, but Fox did not want to lose MacFarlane or his talents, so they gave him $50,000 to produce a partial pilot for his own comedy series.

After six months of painstakingly hand drawing a 15-minute pilot episode, MacFarlane presented "Family Guy" to Fox executives who promptly bought it and aired its debut episode in the prestigious post-Super Bowl slot in January 1999. In addition to serving as the series creator, executive producer, and writer, 25-year-old MacFarlane also voiced three members of the Griffin family: wise dog Brian; Brainy, matricidal, inexplicably British-accented toddler Stewie; and oafish, clueless, but well-meaning dad Peter. Rounding out the cast of this offbeat, working class Rhode Island family were Alex Borstein as levelheaded mother Lois, Cree Summer as teen angst-ridden Meg, and Seth Green as underachiever Chris. Fox went on to move "Family Guy" to various time slots, but critics kept enough of an eye on the sharply written, wryly satirical show that in 2000, it earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program, while accidental actor MacFarlane took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.

But despite critical acclaim and a cult following, the series struggled to bring in consistent ratings, and was axed from the Fox schedule in February 2002, the same year that MacFarlane won an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the song "You've Got a Lot To See" from the episode, "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows." Undaunted, MacFarlane remained a key figure in the increasingly popular genre of adult-oriented animation. While developing his next project - another animated series that would evolve into "American Dad!" - MacFarlane appeared (in voiceover) in four episodes of Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers" (Comedy Central, 2002-05), and also transitioned from voiceover actor to onscreen talent by putting his youthful, wholesome looks to work on the small-town dramedy, "Gilmore Girls" (The WB, 2000-06; The CW, 2006-07). The admitted sci-fi nut also had the chance to appear in two episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise" (UPN, 2001-05). By 2004, Fox had signed a deal and begun production on "American Dad!" while record-breaking sales of "Family Guy" on DVD - coupled with the show's popular reruns on the Cartoon Network and an ongoing campaign by the show's fans - led Fox to put "Family Guy" back into production. That nearly unprecedented move was met with thundering applause, and in 2005, "Family Guy" returned to primetime alongside MacFarlane's latest creation, "American Dad!"

Spawned from the divisive cultural and political atmosphere surrounding the 2004 election, "American Dad!" offered a wildly different domestic profile than its predecessor, featuring a trigger-happy, neoconservative CIA agent with delusions of heroism (voiced by MacFarlane) married to a former groupie and raising an ultraliberal daughter and a geeky, sensitive son. Further opportunities for social satire came from the effeminate alien living in the family attic (also voiced by MacFarlane) and a pet goldfish who embodies a former East German Olympic skier, the result of a CIA experiment gone horribly awry. While that show was slower to catch on with audiences, the return of "Family Guy" was immediately recognized with Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Animated Program in 2005 and 2006. While concurrently producing, voicing and writing for two weekly series, MacFarlane continued to work as a voice actor, beginning a long relationship with the series "Robot Chicken" (Adult Swim, 2005- ) in 2005. In his first live action venture, MacFarlane executive produced "The Winner" (Fox, 2007) for Fox, casting Rob Corddry as a successful thirty-something man who still lives with his parents. It was cancelled after only six episodes.

In 2008, "Family Guy" earned another Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program, and MacFarlane rolled out another project, the web-only animated series "Seth MacFarlanes' Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy." The series of shorts snared over three million views in its first two days on the web. MacFarlane was nominated for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for "Family Guy" in 2009, and that fall debuted "The Cleveland Show" (Fox, 2009-), a "Family Guy" spin-off centered on Cleveland Brown, an African-American deli owner and neighbor of the "Family Guy" Griffin family. While that series went on to become a hit for the writer-producer, MacFarlane earned another Emmy Award nomination for his work on "Family Guy," this time for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. Ever ambitious and seemingly inexhaustible, MacFarlane made his feature film debut as the producer-writer-director of "Ted" (2012), a fantasy-comedy about a man (Mark Wahlberg) whose childhood wish for his Teddy Bear (voiced by MacFarlane) to come to life is granted, bringing about unintended problems for the pals years later. Raising the eyebrows of some and the expectation of others, MacFarlane further entrenched himself as a film industry player when it was announced that the prolific funnyman would be hosting the 85th Annual Academy Awards presentation in February of 2013. Unfortunately, his widely-panned performance became controversial; ironically, this was in large part due to a sketch imagining how badly the evening could possibly go, which included a satirical song-and-dance number called "We Saw Your Boobs" about nudity in films. Disgusted reaction shots--which had been filmed ahead of time by actresses who were in on the joke--were mistaken by some viewers to be genuine expressions of outrage.

MacFarlane's next project was executive-producing the TV series "Dads" (Fox 2013-14), created and written by his proteges Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Despite a promising cast including Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Riegert and Brenda Song, the series was immediately hit with accusations of racism and sexism, and poor ratings doomed it to a single season. MacFarlane's second film as writer and director, the Western parody "Eight Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014), was a box office flop.