Stars always look nice when they attend press conferences, but John C Reilly went out of his way to visit with us, wearing a three piece beige suit with a matching panama hat. He, along with Sarah Silverman met with journalists to talk about their new movie Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to the 2012 animated film, Wreck-It-Ralph.
This feature-length movie from Disney Animation Studio once again spotlights the relationship between Ralph (voiced by Reilly), the videogame bad guy with a heart of gold, and his friend Vanellope (voiced by Silverman), the little girl who stars in the racing videogame Sugar Rush.
But Vanellope is growing tired of her game, driving on the same track day-after-day, and wants more in life. When her game is broken, Ralph and Vanellope attempt to find a new part to replace the wrecked one on the Internet. There she meets Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot) in a street racing game called Slaughter Race. It’s a meeting that might change Ralph and Vanellope’s destiny forever.
John and Sarah spoke about their characters evolving relationship at the press junket for the film, which opens on November 21st 2018 for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.
How does Ralph evolve in this movie?
John C Reilly: The character was initially conceived as a fish out of water. That was a lot of what we played with in the first film. How does Ralph behave, or how does any video game character behave, in a game that’s not his own.
Ralph really worked so hard to get a friend in that first one. He’s got it; rest of life, solved. (he laughs) And then Vanellope starts to grow and mature, realizing that she wants to feel like she belongs somewhere and it’s not (in) her candy game.
The Internet is this infinite landscape. There’s a lot of really fun metaphors that we’re also playing with in the film. And this idea that the arcade is like the childhood arena of their friendship and the Internet represents the larger world beyond, as they grow and mature.
I think a lot of kids and adults are finding stuff in the film that they can really relate to in terms of the way relationships evolve. So I think there’s something here for a lot of people. And certainly a lot of jokes that operate on a lot of different levels. .
There is a wonderful scene with Vanellope who kind of indoctrinates herself into the Disney princesses.
Sarah Silverman: It was a thrill. Disney has taken on progress and inclusivity and has grown and changed in positive ways. This movie faces (the) classic Disney Princess head on; you’re in great distress. Your life is threatened. And then someone else saves you. And to acknowledge all of that and then shatter it is so exciting.
To get to be this kid who becomes like a princess with an attainable waist line; and wearing comfortable clothes. I always like, as a comic, this is really going a different direction. I love that Vanellope sheds light on these grown up princesses that are uncomfortable hanging out.
Every little girl’s dream is to have their own Disney princess song. What was it like to finally get your own Disney princess song?
Sarah: It was a dream come true; I couldn’t believe it. When (I was) told I was going to have a song, we had already been recording for a while.
The music was written by Alan Menken and I got to meet, work with and rehearse with him. It’s like this Disney icon of iconic songs. Then we recorded with a whole orchestra, like you see in old timely movies. He was crazy. It was really the thrill of a lifetime.
I heard that the actors did their voice work together, which is very unusual.
John: Yeah, all of us recorded together. I think that’s what sets both of these movies apart is that feeling of heart and real emotion. It’s because we’re looking into each other’s eyes.
I’ve done other animated work where I didn’t meet the other actor ever. I’m sure there are practical people that say it doesn’t matter. It’s just a voice. But to me it does matter. I think it does come across in the film. It gives the film a soul it might not have if we weren’t there together.
Sarah: It’s also great when it’s not on camera and it’s just audio. Because then you (to John) can show up in just a two piece suit.
John: That’s true. Thank you, Sarah.
Sarah. I wanted to know, how was it working with Gal Gadot? Did you guys do it together?
Sarah: I wish I could say that we did. But we didn’t. She (was) shooting this movie called Wonder Woman. It’s not going to do well. (she laughs) So yeah, that was one where we couldn’t record together. But I adore her.
Throughout time, the best storytelling had some component of social commentary. And that is something that Ralph Breaks the Internet does not shy away from.
John: I went in just to check in with the animators and establish a relationship with them so that I could feel like I was working in concert with them.
I remember this one really moving conversation I had with them where I realized, the Internet is like the central issue of our time, our relationship to this technology. It’s as powerful as a nuclear bomb. But it uses other means. So it was really exciting in the context of an entertaining Disney film to be able to talk about some of these issues in a real way; it’s effect on people.
Why do we crave the anonymous acceptance of people we don’t know? And the way we’re bombarded with commerce on the Internet. So we made this fun entertaining story that you come away from the film thinking about some of the most important issues of our time.
People’s insecurities are spotlighted in this movie, what are yours?
John: I’ve worked really hard not to let my insecurities slow me down. I think that’s one of the important things every person in their life has to do is learn not to judge yourself and be kind to yourself inside of your own thoughts.
But I do think I’m insecure, probably because my mom said to me almost every time I left the house, ‘Where are you going? Don’t wear out your welcome.’ Because I spent most of my day just wandering around the neighborhood going to different relative’s houses.
(My parents called me) Pesty. I turned it into a very lucrative career. (he laughs)
Sarah, what are you insecure about?
Sarah: It moves around. Like grappling with being the age I am. I’ve never been this age. It’s the oldest I’ve ever been. But then I’ll go, it’s the youngest I’ll ever be. That’s what I tell myself too. I conversation myself, I’ll see the cellulite on my thighs. I go ugh. And then I go I’m strong and my body works. And I love these thighs. These thighs help me stand and walk and move.
What is the best advice you can give parents?
John: There are many secrets that you can only know through your own personal experience with a child. But I would say the most important thing for me is seeing who the child is as opposed to who you want them to be or who you think they will become.
Who are they? And that includes what kind of school does this kid need to go to? Not what kind of school does our family go to? What kind of school does this kid need to go to? And if you have more than one kid, it’s different for each one. Basically, (it’s) recognizing the humanity of that person, their distinct identity apart from you, and accepting it.
Yeah, that’s the best advice. Also tell them, don’t wear out your welcome.