The Man Behind Peter Griffin - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

The Man Behind Peter Griffin

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By: Alexandra Cowley

Rhode Islanders have a unique connection to Oscar host Seth MacFarlane through his time at RISD. Many of his ideas for the animated comedy, Family Guy, came from his college experience, including the man behind "Peter Griffin."

If you watch an episode of Family Guy, you're likely to hear a mention of Rhode Island, that's because the animated comedy is based in the ocean state, in the fictional town of Quohog.

The Rhode Island–isms are everywhere. Happy Go Lucky Toys represents Pawtucket based Hasbro, there's Johnston's "Drunken Clam", The Big Blue Bug Solutions, and Buddy Cianci Jr. High.

He got the idea for Peter Griffin while attending college.

In an interview with The Paley Center for The Media, MacFarlane said "There was a security guard who worked at the Rhode island School of Design where I went to college with this big thick Rhode Island accent, everything was said at this volume, absolutely no self editing what so ever."

Paul Timmins is the now retired security guard MacFarlane found so entertaining.

In a Skype interview with ABC 6 Timmins said,  "I'm very proud of it. I am clearly the visual of Peter because the character of peter is an idiot."

Timmins was actually the director of public safety at RISD, he wore a white button down shirt and glasses to work, just like the character Peter Griffin.

"Seth was a student and I used to see him everyday a couple of times day coming by my office and I would go out and have a cigarette with him, shoot the breeze with him, he was a brilliant student,"said Timmins.

When Family Guy first came out in '99, Timmins says he didn't catch on.

"The next day I was walking around and everyone was smiling and pointing at me," he said.

It wasn't until he asked a colleague of MacFarlane, when it hit him.

"I said oh my god, and then it was very humorous," he laughed.

13 years later and Timmins is still a big fan of the show. He says it's brought him closer to his family, and the added attention isn't all that bad either.

"I've had people come up and want to take pictures with me, people I've never met before," Timmins said.

His accent may not be as thick as it used to be, but if you look closely the connection is there, it's one Timmins will always be proud of.



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