Jessica Barth realised she had hit the Hollywood big time after an unusual run-in with her Ted 2 co-star Mark Wahlberg.
Wahlberg was blocking Barth’s view of Morgan Freeman, who was shooting a small part on the movie’s Boston set.
“I was trying to take a picture of Morgan Freeman. And Mark was in my way,” says Barth. “And it was like, ‘Mark, can you get down, like out of the way.’ And then I thought, ‘What world am I living in, that I ask Mark Wahlberg to get out of my Morgan Freeman picture?’ That was a pinch-me moment.”
Barth has had a few of these since taking the pivotal Tami-Lynn role, the loud and proud love interest to the talking teddy bear (voiced by director Seth MacFarlane) in 2012’s Ted and Ted 2. The new movie revolves around Tami-Lynn’s efforts to have a child with Ted, which spurs his quest for court-approved citizenship.
Barth earned the plum part with her acting chops, the ability to look great in skintight outfits that would be the talk of any Boston nightclub and, most importantly, her aptitude for speaking brassy Boston.
“That was a huge part of it,” says the Philadelphia-born Barth, 36. “But I have never really done a Boston accent before.”
She took a crash course in the difficult dialect: CDs, a speech coach, even repeat viewings of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting and Blake Lively in The Town.
The wicked topper, though, was when MacFarlane introduced her to his pal Cassie Robertson. Barth found her Boston muse and instant BFF.
“Cassie sounded exactly how I wanted Tami-Lynn to sound,” says Barth. “She was really fun. I would watch her mannerisms, I would borrow personality traits and the way she interacted with people.”
The hard work paid off for Barth, whose earlier claims to entertainment fame were a small part as a flight attendant in Get Smart and voicing characters on MacFarlane’s Family Guy. MacFarlane appreciated the effort and the on-screen results.
“Jessica is innately talented and gives 150%,” says MacFarlane. “She busts her (butt).”
The accent even impressed her Dorchester-born co-star Wahlberg, who would occasionally correct her on the set.
“She’s committed,” says Wahlberg. “A lot of people don’t get the Boston accent right, some don’t bother trying. Jessica does a good job.”
Barth was so effective that she had her role and relationship upgraded to teddy bear wife in the sequel, Ted 2.
“I was going through the script thinking that this was just amazing. I was blown away,” says Barth.
The downside was dealing with a knee-high bear co-star who is added to the film digitally. Barth had to act to empty space and frequently hit the floor hard when teddy hugs were required.
After multiple takes of one bear embrace, “I was landing on my knees so much they were covered in bruises. I should have worn kneepads.”
But there were many more victories, including the character’s elaborate on-screen wedding.
“Every girl dreams of a wedding, but not always to a teddy bear,” says Barth, who is marrying her own partner, Danny Cusumano, this summer.
Immersed in her deep Boston state of mind, Barth had a lot of ideas for Tami-Lynn’s form-fitting wedding gown.
“It was my idea to add the pink,” says Barth. “Tami-Lynn is bold and brave, she wouldn’t wear a plain-white gown. I wanted to give it some personality.” – USA Today/Tribune News Service