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This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
“Doing an hour of animation voiceover is as strenuous as doing six hours of singing,” says Seth MacFarlane, and he would know. When he isn’t voicing a host of characters for his hit animated sitcoms (not to mention those Ted movies), the Family Guy mastermind tours the world with a 39-piece orchestra, belting standards to capacity crowds at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and, on Aug. 7, London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The unenviable task of maintaining those golden vocal cords — the 41-year-old mogul’s entertainment empire is said to be worth a cool billion — falls to MacFarlane’s longtime ear, nose and throat surgeon of 11 years, Shawn Nasseri. It’s Nasseri, 45, who rescued MacFarlane’s 2013 Oscars-hosting gig, which nearly didn’t happen thanks to a severe bout of walking pneumonia. “The producers were freaking out that Seth couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, couldn’t stop coughing,” recalls Nasseri of a frantic call from Academy Awards producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Nasseri prescribed an emergency regimen of “antibiotics, steroids, cough medications and inhalers,” averting disaster.
Scan the Harvard-educated doctor’s Beverly Hills office’s walls, and you’ll spot signed CDs from such patients as Steven Tyler, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and One Direction’s Harry Styles, whose inscription reads, “To Shawny: Cheers a bunch for shoving an uncomfortable tube down my nose. Big love, Harry S.” Hanging nearby are Family Guy doodles drawn by MacFarlane, including one in which the show’s Stewie flips the bird at a Clay Aiken record. (It’s an inside joke: Nasseri was the on-call doctor for much of American Idol‘s run.)
Of the many Family Guy characters he voices, MacFarlane says the nasal Quagmire “is probably the most taxing,” and he claims his only vocal warm-up before concerts is a shot of Jack Daniel’s. Nasseri winces at the admission: “You can’t say that! He warms up and warms down. People don’t realize he’s classically trained as a singer.” Jokes MacFarlane, “And there’s that Quaalude cocktail you gave me one time,” sending the two men into peals of laughter.
Read more from The Hollywood Reporter‘s Top Doctors Issue: