Rich Moore, John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman talk Wreck It Ralph
Wreck It Ralph is Disney’s latest 3D feature film, and the animation extravaganza follows the story of an arcade rogue who desires nothing more than to abandon his villainy and become a gaming hero. Directed by the exuberant Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, the film has already made waves in the imminent awards season, and most recently on home shores. The aforementioned Hollywood magnates hit Sydney around the 3D epic’s Boxing Day release, and TheVine caught up with Moore, and then Riley and Silverman respectively on the film.
Rich Moore, welcome to Australia. You’ve won an Emmy for Futurama as well as The Simpsons, but tell me, does anything prepare you for a phone call from John Lasseter [chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios]?
Well usually his assistant calls five minutes prior, to kind of prepare you. Not even that prepares you for that phone call from John Lasseter. [Laughs]
Well what was great about it, is when I started at Disney – and John’s someone I’ve known a long time – was the fact that he took me aside and he said, “Now look: I do not want you to try to make a quote unquote ‘Disney Movie’. You’re here because of you; I want you here with your point of view, to make the kind of movie that you like. And I don’t want you to edit yourself; I don’t want you to censor yourself. If we need to, we will do that as a group, but make the type of film that you want.”
For an artist, for a filmmaker coming into a new place, that was huge. That was so reassuring; to hear that going into a place like Disney. That it could be anything. It could have been someplace that felt like, “Respect the Legacy” – which we all do. But to be given that freedom was huge.
On one level Wreck It Ralph is a love letter to gaming…
So I’m curious, what nostalgic gaming element were you most keen to slot into the film?
In deciding where the movie was going to take place – because we worked for years on this film, and nothing is decided overnight, like in a heartbeat: “Oh it’s going to be this-or-that.” We really pour over these films and these scripts. And there was the decision to be made of, “what is the location that this takes place in? Is this all happening in an arcade, or is this happening in the memory of an X-Box?”
We went both ways. We explored both of those options. But ultimately at the end of the day, it just seemed that it was so gettable that each of these cabinets in an arcade is its own world, and they’re connected by chords to a power-strip, through a surge protector, that is their transportation hub. And we never had visually a better concept than that.
So we went forward with that. We followed our hearts and went with that. But there were people who would say, “Now do kids know what arcades are? They haven’t been around for a long time.” And to that, I said, “Well, you know what: just because kids – like my kids know what they are – but kids in the States, we have a place called Chuck E. Cheese, we have David & Busters that are modern day arcades.” They’re not as prevalent as they were when I was young, but I think just because I didn’t see Laurel and Hardy in movie theatres when I was a little kid, doesn’t mean I didn’t know who they were. It’s in the culture.
So we followed our hearts with that one. And then to find out when the trailers to come out for the movie, when information started to be leaked to the public that this movie was to take place in an arcade, people embraced it so wholeheartedly. They said, “I’m so glad they’re playing it in an arcade. This is so cool.” That it really pressed some sort of button in people – of nostalgia – and even [including] young people. A lot of teenagers would say to me, “It’s so cool you’re making a movie for my generation.” Then 50-year-old people would come up and say, “I’m glad you’re making this movie about my generation.” So, somehow it really resonated with a wide group of people.
Absolutely. Now we see Wreck It Ralph attend a group therapy meeting, so I wondered, was there a specific affirmation you brought into the recording booth?
When we were making the movie?
“Please don’t let me laugh during these takes.” [Laughs] Because with people like John [C. Reilly] and with Sarah [Silverman] and Jane [Lynch] and Jack [McBrayer] and Alan Tudyk as King Candy: they’re so funny, and I would give them the freedom to explore the scenes, that you never know what they’re going to say. And you don’t want to be the one who starts laughing during the take, and ruins the whole thing!
So there was a lot of girding my loins, and [going], “Ok, think of something horrible. Horrible…horrible…a flock of geese getting sucked into a jet turbine? That’s horrible. My god, they’re saying things that are funny!” [Laughs]
That is horrible! Why would I talk about geese getting sucked in a jet turbine?
I love your imagination. Now I can’t help but think of that, so thanks!
I’ve just cast a pall over the whole interview. What was he thinking? Who says that on television during the family hour?
I did ask you for your affirmation…so what can you do?
That’s it! A flock of geese getting sucked into a jet turbine! Perfect. Just in time for Boxing Day.
That’s exactly what everyone should be thinking about on Boxing Day.
That’s right. Look, the audience has a lot of choice this Boxing Day. There’s this little film called The Hobbit…Hobbit? Habit? I don’t know what it is. Something about a little man. Alright. You could go see that. But in the end, what are you going to have? A little guy…with some other little guys…doing something that I don’t know what it is.
Folks. Wreck It Ralph, this is your big option, this is your big choice on Boxing Day. Think on the Boxing Days of yore, you know, when traditionally this was the type of movie that people used to go and see on Boxing Day. I mean the real Boxing Day, the ones that I knew as a kid…
As an American…
As an American, you know, a traditionalist, we would go and see movies like Wreck it Ralph on Boxing Day. We didn’t need Hobbits! It’s not even real! It’s all in the imagination. Where as Wreck it Ralph, that’s solid entertainment, this is something you can take to the bank! That’s the name of that tune!
Comedians John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are both known for their decidedly adult comedic stylings – Reilly beloved for his daffy turns Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, and Silverman for her razor sharp stand up and self-titled TV series – but in animated form they couldn’t be more adorable (and kid-friendly). Reilly plays the titular antihero and veteran arcade ‘baddie’ who bust out of his 8-bit gaming world to the Mario-Kart inspired land Sugar Rush, where he meets Silverman’s super-cute ‘glitch’ Vanellope von Schweetz.
Visiting Sydney along with their ebullient director Rich Moore, the more subdued (read: jet lagged) pair shared a few minutes with TheVine to discuss gaming, glitches and Disney’s ‘first feminist princess.’
Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly – Welcome to Australia. Now, type-casting and rejection are obviously things actors deal with all the time. But did you discover any more surprising areas of common ground with your pixelated characters?
John: Yeah. Typcasting. I think Wreck-It Ralph is the ultimate example of being typecast. He’s been doing the same role in this video game for his whole life – 30 years in this arcade being the bad guy in this game; in a very repetitive kind of life, almost like working in a factory or something, where you do the exact same things every day. And he has this sort of midlife crisis and decides, ‘There’s got to be something more to life than just this.” And that’s how our story begins, Alice.
It is indeed! Now I came of age in the Nintendo 64 era – where my older brothers would gang up and hunt me down with the Golden Gun...
Sarah: That’s my number one favourite game: Golden Eye.
Did you hunt people down with the Golden Gun?
Sarah: Yeah, and I talk a lot of crap too, a lot of smack. That’s the only time I love killing: when it’s the 007 game where you can have four windows and four different people can play. I did a show, Mr. Show, on HBO – I would be in it sometimes – and that’s all we would do whenever we weren’t shooting, is play Golden Eye.
Ok! So John, where there any childhood gaming traumas that you brought to your character?
John: Traumas…well, the only trauma was running out of quarters. That was the big thing. That was one of the cool things about arcade games when you were a kid: a lot of the adrenaline rush was like, “My last quarter! But if I die in this game then that’s it!”
But yeah, I guess that doesn’t really qualify as a traumatic event.
Sarah: But there was that retro feeling in the movie, where, I remember putting a quarter up to say you’re next. They had all that stuff, that arcade culture in the movie that I remember so well. And it’s interesting, it’s almost a period piece in that way. You forget that video games are starting to have a rich history: 30 years, really. And also, because it’s technology, that 30 years is like 200 years because it goes so fast.
Well speaking of childhoods, there’s a real big brother/little sister dynamic going on in the film – so did life imitate art at all?
Sarah: I think so. But I’m more of the big brother and he’s more of the little sister in real life. [Elbowing John] “Come on, squirt!”
Ah so there was a bit of heckling, because I understand you two were paired up in the recording booth, which is something a bit different.
John: Yeah, well Sarah and I knew each other before the film, socially, so we already kind of knew and liked each other a little bit. And then there was a lot of one-upmanship: Sarah is a pretty good smart aleck.
Sarah: And he is a really good big lug with a big heart.
John: But you had to bring your A-game when she was there.
John: You don’t just want to do some…
You don’t want to be sub par…
Personally I can’t hear the word “glitch” now, without thinking “there’s a glitch in the Matrix”, so were you guys keen to reclaim the word from Neo?
Sarah: Yeah, it’s like a Take Back The Night kind of thing. [Laughs]
Yeah, let’s get really serious about this!
John: Well ‘glitch’ was not invented by The Matrix.
No, no of course.
John: Glitches exist all over the place.
Of course, perhaps that’s just my silly film quoting brain that always thinks of The Matrix.
John: I didn’t think about The Matrix so much. [To Sarah] Did you think about The Matrix when you were playing Vanellope von Schweetz?
Sarah: I did not. But I have heard that… ‘glitch’.
That’s just my thing then, that’s fine.
It struck me that earlier in the year Disney gave us a flame haired archer in Brave, and now we have an adorable glitch in Vanellope – do you think Disney is bringing through a new generation with a bit more gumption?
Sarah: I hope so. Yeah, I think Brave was the first heroine that wasn’t saved by a male character or anything. And I think Vanellope is the first feminist Disney Princess, which I love, personally!
We live in a time that’s extra tough for girls, and I like it [that] she doesn’t have the unattainable waist that so many Disney princesses [have]. She’s just a kid; a real-looking kinda kid.
John: Sadly Ralph’s waistline is entirely attainable. You just have to keep eating.
Well yeah Ralph’s waistline is extra attainable if you indulge in the Sugar Rush land. I felt like I got a contact sugar high from this film! So did you have to make sure you got your favourite candy into the film?
John: Well, I didn’t really have a point of view about getting candy on screen, but a lot, a lot of jokes came from the candy. Every time we were doing riffs – when Ralph was stuck in that world – the candy jokes were never ending.
And there’s very little candy that I don’t like.
Sarah: Yeah. I have a lot of favourites. In the sugary end, I’m a Nerds Rope person and Kit Kat…
John: Nerds Rope? [Laughs] Wow.
Sarah: Yeah there’s Nerds Rope.
Well you heard it here first.
And finally Sarah, while you’ve been in Sydney you have also done a stand up show at the Opera House. So which is more daunting: the Sydney Opera House or the Disney recording booth?
Sarah: Oh the Sydney Opera House. The Disney recording booth – from a distance with perspective is so huge – but it wasn’t daunting because in the moment it’s just very warm, kind, supportive people making this thing. And I was terrified for the Opera House, but everyone was so nice! I was scared.
John: I didn’t know you did Opera?
Sarah: Yeah! [Sings “Me me me me!”]
(Images via FDC and Getty)