Family Guy and Ted creator Seth Macfarlane sure is busy lately – he is hosting this year’s 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in a few weeks and reuniting with Ted stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis on a sequel to his successful feature directorial debut later this year.
However, in between those ventures – and obligations to his animated TV comedy series Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show – MacFarlane will be directing and starring in his sophomore theatrical effort, A Million Ways to Die in the West. It appears that Charlize Theron is currently in final negotiations.
MacFarlane is directing A Million Ways… from a screenplay he co-wrote with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, having previously collaborated on the Ted script and worked alongside each other as voice actors, writer and co-showrunners on Family Guy. Heat Vision summarized the plot like this:
[‘A Million Ways…’] follows a sheepish farmer who chickens out of a gunfight and sees his girlfriend leave him. When he meets the wife of a notorious outlaw who offers to teach him how to shoot, the farmer at first sees a chance to win back his love but slowly falls for the woman. Complications ensue when the outlaw returns and reclaims his woman.
The reports don’t specify for which role Theron is bidding, but it’s safe to conclude that she’s playing the “wife of a notorious outlaw” role. It’s a welcome change of pace for the gorgeous Oscar-winner, whose comedy work over the past decade has fallen on the bitingly-dark and satirical side (Hancock, Young Adult), as opposed to the sort of button-pushing dialogues and scenes MacFarlane is known for.
Unfortunately, this could mean she’s passing on P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice, as the respective projects are preparing to begin shooting around the same time this spring.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is already being compared with Mel Brooks’ western parody, Blazing Saddles, as MacFarlane’s film is likewise expected to spoof and deconstruct the genre’s conventions for comedic effect (while examining their implications from a modern social perspective). Brooks’ fondness for those old western tropes allowed Blazing Saddles to remain a cherished comedy title, much like MacFarlane’s good-natured feelings about contemporary man-boy mentality make Ted funny and touching entertainment for many people (and his sharp critique and mockery – which is what I love most about his work – obviously also find their way to offending some).
Knowing all that, I can honestly say that I can’t wait to see this piece!
A Million Ways to Die in the West begins filming in May, with expectance to reach theaters by summer 2014.