‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Press Day Roundtables

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(Image Courtesy of MouseInfo®)

A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to attend the press junket for Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. As I’m sure you’re aware, I absolutely love this nostalgia-driven feature, and it was an even greater joy sitting down and meeting with the talented cast and crew behind Disney’s latest animated treat. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch are extremely charismatic individuals who can make a room erupt in laughter just by the simplest of quips. Unfortunately, Jack McBrayer was unable to attend the press day, but my fellow “junketeers” and I still gained valuable insight on the film from director Rich Moore, writer Phil Johnston, and producer Clark Spencer. We also spoke to one of the most graciously humble animator-turned-directors in the business, John Kahrs, whose magnificent animated short Paperman precludes the screening of Wreck-It Ralph. Below, you will hear the audio from each roundtable session that features either the talent or crew. Enjoy!

Roundtable Session 1: Sarah Silverman (“Vannelope von Schweetz”)

Silverman is a force of nature who is quick on her feet and cracks everyone up within minutes. I appreciated how she spun her answers with humor while maintaining their integrity. By doing so, we were able to have a more involved dialogue and discussion, one that made our investment in Wreck-It Ralph that much more concrete. We learned from Sarah that Wreck-It Ralph’s producer and director allowed improvisation; however, the screenplay was already prepared for the distinctive personalities of each voice actor. Apparently, to make the interactions between Silverman and John C. Reilly seem more believable, the crew behind Wreck-It Ralph ensured that the pair record their dialogue in the same room together, playing off each other to find that special chemistry. Perhaps the most surprising thing I took from the roundtable discussion was how much of an avid gamer Sarah Silverman was in her heyday (not saying she’s old, folks!). Who knew Silverman was a huge Goldeneye fan! She’s got great taste in video games — that’s for sure! Please listen to our recorded roundtable conversation with the Queen of Comedy Central.

Roundtable Session 2: John C. Reilly (“Wreck-It Ralph”)

John C. Reilly, who plays the titular hero, is quite a fascinating individual. To think that he’s been in the film business for twenty years but is still wondering what his next “chapter” in life is, really puts into perspective how acting starts off as something that pays your bills, maybe not necessarily a career you’d define as your “true calling.” Many actors are incredibly grateful for having work, including John C. Reilly, and it’s painfully clear that being an actor isn’t an easy-breezy path. You have to work incredibly hard to breakout into the big leagues, and work even harder to maintain that position. Reilly seems as though he’s living a surreal existence that doesn’t seem to be his own. He even comments on how crazy it is to be participating in a Disney film after watching countless numbers of Disney movies and television specials as a wide-eyed kid. With Wreck-It Ralph, Reilly describes how collaborative the process was, where Reilly was brought into storyboard sessions to discuss the ins and outs of his character. Wreck It-Ralph was a true journey for John C. Reilly — for over two years, he’d come to the studio now and again to record the voice for his character, seeing Wreck-It Ralph fully transform pixel by pixel. John C. Reilly also perfectly epitomizes Wreck-It Ralph’s appeal by calling it “a marketers dream” in the way that its story hits home for most all age groups. Do yourself a favor and hear what Academy Award® nominee John C. Reilly has to say concerning the film and his life in general.

Roundtable Session 3: Jane Lynch (“Sergeant Calhoun”)

First off, let me say how incredibly kind and sweet Jane Lynch is in person. Not that you’d ever think she’d mean, but she is nowhere near the tough and gruff personality that she portrays various films and television programs. Jane was refreshingly open and transparent with everyone about the various roles she plays and the work she does, especially in regards to the Obama campaign and other charities. Jane spoke about her childhood and how many Sunday nights were spent at home watching “The Wonderful World of Disney;” she certainly felt honored to be a part of the Disney legacy with Wreck-It Ralph. It’s crazy how The Jungle Book, probably one of the most under-the-radar Disney films in existence, kept being brought up over and over again in each roundtable. I believe Jane was the first or second participant to hold up The Jungle Book in such reverence alongside other classic Disney films. I’m going to have to revisit The Jungle Book someday, but it touched a great many people in the room on a profound level in an unspoken type of way. Jane Lynch also reinforced Wreck-It Ralph’s fundamentally collaborative methods of involving the voice actors every step of the way, through the animations of each character and even on down to motion capturing each actor’s facial expressions to get the nuanced personalities just right. Below, you’ll hear more of what Jane Lynch had to say about Wreck-It Ralph, her career, and even what’s on her “Watch List.”

Roundtable Session 4: John Kahrs (Director of Paperman)

One of the most pleasant roundtable sessions was with John Kahrs, the director of the beautifully envisioned Paperman, the short that precedes Wreck-It Ralph. Kahrs talked a bit about his experience with Tangled, what inspired him to make such a romantic story like Paperman, and how shorts provide a stepping stone for animators to jump into the hot seat of the director’s chair. Kahrs exudes an incredible amount of passion and feeling when talking about this project, and it’s evident how close he holds his work to his heart. Please check out the audio of the roundtable session below.

Roundtable Sessions 5 & 6: Rich Moore, Clark Spencer and Phil Johnston (Director, Producer & Co-Writer of Wreck-It Ralph, respectively)

Speaking with the producer and writer of Wreck-It Ralph was an eye-opener about the behind-the-scenes negotiating that goes on for something as simple as a character cameo. It turns out writer Phil Johnston would first have to see if the video game character cameo would work within the original story of Wreck-It Ralph — which, by the way, was always intended as an original treatment since the project’s birth — before Clark Spencer could negotiate with the video companies about featuring some of their characters. It turns out that even though the video game companies were genuinely interested in the project, they often reneged the deal to have their character put into the film if the story didn’t in some way incorporate them to a large extent. Spencer and Johnston wanted to include Mario, which I’m sure video game fans across the world would have gone crazy over, but Nintendo® wanted Mario’s exhibition in the film to be of greater value than a quick, pan-across-the-screen cameo. Meanwhile, Rich Moore revealed to us something rather shocking: what we call the Pixar aesthetic or “style” originates from the California Institute of Arts (Cal Art), a school that puts greater focus on storytelling, world building and deep characterizations as opposed to the Disney fairytale motif model. Moore reveals that besides himself, Pixar legends such as Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter and Brenda Chapman all went to Cal-Arts, which is why their styles  feel eerily similar to one another, something we’ve now come to know as the “Pixar” style. Check out the audio recordings below for even more insight into Wreck-It Ralph and the hybridization of Disney and Pixar.

That’s a wrap up for the roundtable coverage. Be sure to check out Wreck-It Ralph this weekend if you have yet to do so!