May-June 2014

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26 CINEMONTAGE / MAY-JUN 14 So, in spite of an extended family that also included his father Joel Freeman (longtime producer and assistant director whose credits included The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, 1968, and Shaft, 1971) and great-uncle Dore Schary (head of production at MGM and also a playwright and screenwriter of note), Freeman's time as a nascent actor left him with an aversion to Hollywood. "I was like, 'Are you kidding? This is what it's like? Let me out of here,'" he laughs. It took studying film editing at UCLA for him to change his mind. Of course, the long career he has enjoyed since then — highlighted by his ACE Eddie Award-nominated work on Seth MacFarlane's Ted (2012) — hasn't hurt his impression of the business either. On May 30, Universal Pictures will release his sophomore collaboration with MacFarlane, A Million Ways to Die in the West, a thoroughly indecorous comedic Western that brings the writer-director before the camera — as the lead, Albert, a sheep farmer — unobscured by his talking teddy bear or his animated creations on Family Guy. The film co-stars Charlize Theron (as Albert's inamorata, Anna), Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman, and with that cast, it seems safe to assume that the 1880s-set story won't be your grandfather's Western. "A lot of the preview audiences have sort of said it's like a modern-day Blazing Saddles," Freeman says. Like Ted, it blends humor with heart, reflecting the editor's own cinematic preferences. "To me, if I can bring a little tear to my eye, or I'm watching something Once Upon a Laugh in the West Jeff Freeman Knows 'A Million Ways to Die' by Peter Tonguette portraits by Wm. Stetz T he show-business career of Jeff Freeman, A.C.E., began on a terrifying note. At the age of four, he was plucked by his stepfather, director Arthur Napoleon, to appear in a movie co-written by his mother, Jo. Man on the Prowl (1957) may not have made any "best of all- time" lists, but the experience was memorable enough for young Jeff. "It was a film about a psychotic killer after the mother and the two children," Freeman recalls. "I was one of the little children. We had to do stunts like a motorcycle coming at us at 90 miles an hour. When you're four, you think it's real." Moviemaking can be hard work, but this was ridiculous. A scene from A Million Ways to Die in the West. Courtesy of Universal Pictures CineMontage_May-Jun_14-3.indd 26 4/15/14 2:49 PM

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