Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph (PG) opens in theaters November 2, 2012
I spoke to the creative masterminds behind Wreck-IT Ralph at a recent press junket. Richard Moore (Director), Phil Johnson (writer), and Clark Spender (Producer) shared their stories of favorite video games, working with the incredible cast of voice actors and the different Video Game Worlds that come alive in Wreck-It Ralph. – Tee
Director Rich Moore
We were talking to your producer and writer on Wreck-It Ralph and John C. Reilly’s work on it and how he went above and beyond. Can you talk about working with John and his involvement? He was so interested in the process
RM: It was fantastic working with him. I’m a huge fan of John. Having this experience with him I feel that I come away from it loving him as a person, as a friend and as a collaborator. When I first went to John and pitched him the movie, and read Phil’s script, he liked the character and the idea of the movie but he had reservations about the process. This was a reason why he had not done feature animation up until this point. His friend Jack Black told him, “It’s great John! You go into a booth and you just tune out the world and you can just act against nothing!” Well, to John that sounded horrible. He didn’t like to do that. He liked to work with other people and have fun and talk back and forth. He don’t want to go into a bubble and say something to no-one.
I was at that point that I thought well, he’s right. We have a movie with John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman and what’s fun about that is that they’ve never worked together before. They know each other and they’re friends but the good stuff is going to happen when they play against each other. We’re not giving the full affect from individual performances. We can do this if we decide. That’s what I think is great about Pixar’s process and Disney’s process and trusting the process. What’s good about the process is that it’s very individual in that there is room for it to bend. I said to John we can taylor-make this to work to get the best of everyone. So Clark and I worked it out so that John could work with Sara in person. I think the movie is hugely better for that. I appreciate John’s candidness and honestly and his courage to speak up. We had only met a few times. It took guts for him to say that I’m afraid of going in and doing something where I am only going to give you a fraction of my best. John is open and I like that he speaks his mind. He’s not someone that just does the job and collect a paycheck. He really cares about every part he plays. He’s an actor’s actor.
How different was the Futurama, Simpons process from this project?
RM: It’s a longer schedule. In TV you are are always behind. You are telling several stories in one season. the characters do not change. That’s why we like to watch them. We’re watching little situations play out where they get something and then it all gets taken away. That’s why we tune in the next week and see the next one play out. They don’t have story arcs especially in situation comedies like the Simpsons. There’s more depth to the story in Wreck-It Ralph. We’re working for four years on the same 90 minutes and honing it and honing it and finding the gold in it and really developing the relationship between the characters and making them the most powerful and the simplest they can be. We found it speaks to a universal truth rather than quick little morality tales that are told in 22 minutes. I would say that’s the biggest difference. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Simpons have a ton of heart and that’s the reason why they’ve lasted so long. Because in those five seasons when I was there it was really stressed to represent them as a family. They weren’t just cartoon characters. I remember James Brooks saying do not try to make it obvious that this is a cartoon. I approach it as if this is a sitcom that happens to be animated. It’s not a cartoon show. I think that’s good training for something like this where we really mind for the heart. We really push the relationships to the breaking point and put them back together.
Who were the original choices for voices for the Ralph and Vanellope characters?
RM: Definitely Sarah was from day 1. We knew that our character was a kind of innocent misfit in a candy world who could be inappropriate at times. Her face appeared in my mind. It has to be sara. John very early once when we knew the character Ralph. Who could do voice quality and portrayal of that type of person that can be very funny and so unabashedly human and flawed. Plus so invested in the project. For Jane, her character was a man for awhile. It felt very cliche and this mind you was before Glee had started. What I was going off of was we love Jane in the movie Role Models. She plays a counselor and I love her from all the Christopher Guest movies and 40 Year Old Virgin and those that came before. But for me it started with her in Role Models. I remember seeing that movie in the theater and just cracking up and loving the performance in that. She would be so funny as a drill sergeant. It’s Jane as you couldn’t see her in a live action movie being more rough and tumble. That’s why it makes this character for her unique. Plus Jack McBrayer is just so nice. We knew Felix was just the nicest man. He had to contrast Ralph’s curmudgeon misanthrope. I thought, Ron Howard is a little old for the part but maybe he can come back in a sequel as Fix-It Felix, Sr. I was just thinking about that last week, who would that be? Wouldn’t it be funny to see Ron Howard and Jack working together?
So there was a lot of chemistry between Sara and John. Did you just put them in a booth and let them go wild?
RM: No. We would always have real solid pages that Phil would write. We had a co-writer Jennifer Lee who came in a little later in the production. Phil had a commitment that he had to fulfill on another show. Jen is someone who is a contemporary of Phil’s and a colleague of his. I meet her through Phil. She came on to manage the writers although she’s a very good writer herself. We began our sessions with working on what was there. We’d take a break and talk about how could it be better. That was our ritual. Getting it as written, then talk about it to try to make it better. Phil and Jen would play with the dialogue a little bit. I worked with John and Sarah on how they would say things. It was my job to have them expand on that and I would let them go and I would always reel back and edit some parts. Try to give a little more direction. I try to step back and not dictate to them. It’s so much more natural as they are in the moment. That’s where that great chemistry comes from. John would call it our comedy democracy.
We see Sonic the Hedgehog on the posters and it gives the impression that he is in the movie…
Rich interrupts. He is in the movie!
Well, I guess have a bigger part.
RM: He tells us that if you die outside your game you are dead! That’s huge! That was his big moment. PSA of the rules of gaming!
Other Wreck-It Ralph coverage:
Q&A with Producer Clark Spencer and Screenwriter Phil Johnston: http://thatsitmommy.com/2012/11/wreck-it-ralph-junket-qa-producer-clark-spencer-and-screenwriter-phil-johnston/
Q&A with John C. Reilly, Sara Silverman and Jane Lynch: http://thatsitmommy.com/2012/10/junket-qa-wreck-it-ralph-voice-actors/
* We did not receive monetary compensation for this review. Tee was invited at the junket and received a goody bag free of charge for attending the junket.