Throwback Thursday

Family Guy's Seth Green Reflects on the Evolution of Chris Griffin, His Favorite Classic Moment and More

Family Guy Seth Green

Chris Griffin may not have grown physically since we met him back in 1999, but that doesn’t mean the perpetual 13-year-old hasn’t evolved over the course of Family Guy‘s run.

With the Fox comedy’s 300th episode now under its belt, TVLine chatted with Seth Green — responsible for bringing the misunderstood odd ball to life — about his experience with the character, including his favorite moment from the show’s storied history:

TVLINE | Let’s start at the beginning. Do you remember starting on the show, how you felt about it? 
I always thought it was a great show. I loved the pilot script right away. I thought the characters and the writing were so funny. It was the kind of show I’d want to watch. Then when the first season came out, I’d never worked on any show that went more than 13 episodes, so it being canceled was not a surprise for me. But then it coming back and becoming this sort of near-permanent installation on television and in pop culture, I never could have imagined. I don’t think anyone dares to dream of those kinds of things.

TVLINE | It really does feel like it’s never going to go away — not that I want it to.
I can’t speak to that, but it definitely struggled in the beginning [which led to its initial cancellation]. The entire concept of putting out entire seasons on DVD was just starting to come into vogue, so Family Guy was an early beta test of that — and it worked! People were very into home entertainment, and the show found a completely new life as a result of it.

TVLINE | Chris hasn’t aged in 300 episodes, but he’s definitely evolved. What has the process been like for you, shaping his character and watching him grow?
I’ve really enjoyed it. This is a favorite character of mine to play. We’ve been able to define what the edges are pretty clearly without ever limiting his ability to evolve or discover new things. I’ve also loved being a part of that definition with my performance and my interpretation of the writing. It’s been an incredible opportunity.

TVLINE | How much of Chris is what you put into him vs. what the writers put in the script?
Well, I don’t want to claim any responsibility for pitching jokes in the room. I’m usually given stuff that’s already written, or at least fairly worked out. If they want something specific from Chris, like I’m playing a child version of the character or a eunuch version of the character, I get to take their plan and give a contextual shape to it. They’re so good to me. The writers, historically, have been on a great track with this character.

TVLINE | Chris, as of late, has been doing this really dark sexual thing where his voice gets super low. Was there a discussion about doing more of that?
I think I’ve just been more attentive to the original inception of the voice. If you listen to the first season, even the first two seasons, my voice is so low and weird that it’s just funny. It makes all of the mundane normalcy of basic family stuff have an extra level of strange or silly. It makes an extra joke. So I’ve been more attentive to that of late, how valuable that low tone can be. But the material itself is also written in a way that supports it. We honestly haven’t had a conversation about it — it just sort of happened.

TVLINE | This might be crazy to ask 300+ episodes later, but do you have a favorite Chris episode or moment?
I always go back to that first “Viewer Mail” episode where someone pitches the Griffins getting superpowers, and Chris basically becomes the Human Torch. He walks up to a kid in the hall and goes, “Hey, how’s it going?” And the kid’s like, “I’m all right, I guess.” And Chris goes, “Remember in the fourth grade, you called me Chris Gristle?” And the kid’s like, “I guess so?” And without hesitation, Chris goes, “Well, burn for it!” and lights the kid on fire. I just love the idea that Chris is so petty to have held a grudge since fourth grade and to literally murder a person for an infraction as small as messing up his last name.

TVLINE | Since you have the experience, would you ever want to write or direct an episode?
Honestly, I really do love my opportunities to just be a performer. And when you have a creative team as good and as proven as this, I just don’t feel like that’s really my place.

TVLINE | Looking ahead to the next 300 episodes, is there anything you hope the writers explore about Chris?
No, I just never want him to stray from his core values. Chris, for as weird as he is, is pure id. He’s without shame in most cases and willing to live a free existence. But he’s also constantly learning, he’s fairly earnest and empathetic. He’s a deeply thoughtful character, even though some of the things he thinks about are ridiculous.

New episodes of Family Guy air Sundays at 9/8c on Fox.

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