She’s made sure adults won’t look at Paddington Bear the same way.
For the uninitiated, Jessica Barth plays trailer-trash Tami-Lynn McCafferty in Seth McFarlane’s two Ted films. The part has seen her simulate interspecies sex and discuss having a family with the stoned bear. In the first Ted film, the bear got a promotion at work because his boss was in awe of the fact that he had eaten potato salad off her bare backside.
But going naked for Playboy was a step too far for Barth.
The 37-year-old opted to wear a bikini for her spread for the men’s magazine. Appearing in Playboy clothed may sound like a contradiction in terms, but the publication claims it is now far more about the articles.
In a Philadelphia accent a lot softer than the snarl she puts on in the Teds, Barth told Loaded, “I have nothing against people who do nudity and the images can be really beautiful, but that just wasn’t for me.”
Her first look at Playboy wasn’t as classy in her book.
“My first encounter with Playboy was actually a previous boyfriend that I had,” Barth said. “He used to keep a stack of Playboy by his bed. We would be together and there was Jenny McCarthy naked. I was like, ‘These need to move’. But I have to say that with Playboy, I felt really comfortable. At first I was nervous but it was a non-nude shoot in a very comfortable atmosphere. It’s pretty far removed from me right now, running to pick up my kids.”
Talking from her LA home, Barth stresses she looks nothing like her Playboy photos, repeating she’s always running around after her young daughter and son.
She’s keen on stressing she is ‘normal’, as the unrealistic portrayal of women in photoshoots and movies is something close to Barth’s heart. So close, she’s making a documentary about the subject.
“The pictures that you see are just so far from the truth and that’s the point behind my documentary,” she says.“It’s a machine that’s making you look this way. Every picture that you see is retouched. You can make your arms longer – whatever you want to do.”
It’s not surprising an actress who is credited as ‘Pretty Blonde’ and ‘Attractive Woman’ in two of her films is keen to tear apart unrealistic expectations in the movie industry and distorted perceptions of beauty.
“I just want to break that down for people so that they know that women don’t go around looking like that,” Barth continues. “There is an army behind every photoshoot working on people. It’s art and that’s what it should be called. It’s not reality and young girls shouldn’t think that way.”
“There are these intimate scenes with something that is invisible like an imaginary sex friend. You are basically doing it by yourself”
Barth took bit parts in TV shows in LA while holding down three waitressing jobs in the early days of her career. A stint on How I Met Your Mother led to her catching the eye and ear of Ted writer and director Seth MacFarlane, who cast her in three episodes of Family Guy doing a voiceover of Kate Hudson.
Still, the actress admits she had her work cut out trying to convince MacFarlane to cast her in Ted.
“At first I don’t think he thought of me as Tami-Lynn,” she says. “I had to convince him. It was a process for me getting this part. I had to work with him just to make sure. He said, ‘Your acting is perfect. We just need you to work on the dialect and make sure you are 100 per cent’. So I worked my ass off! And I got it!”
Another task Barth found challenging and unrealistic was simulating sex scenes with a non-existent bear for Ted 2. For the second instalment of the popular comedy, a besotted Ted and Tami-Lynn get married and are thinking about having children. Clearly, that was a challenge, as Barth effectively found herself humping fresh air.
“During filming, I had to rehearse with a stuffed animal just to have something in my eyeline,” she recalls. “But when we were recording, there’s just nothing there. It’s a challenge to develop this relationship between you and the character because there are no eyes and no facial reactions to feed off. The physical part of things was probably the hardest part of all. There are these intimate scenes with something that is invisible like an imaginary sex friend. You are basically doing it by yourself and imagining that you are with this teddy bear. I said to Seth, ‘Do I just lay and be spread-eagle on the table?’ and he said, ‘No, do it on the floor’.”
Ted 2 is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1