I sort of became Ralph and Ralph became me – John C. Reilly
For actor John C. Reilly, voicing the character of Ralph in Disney’s latest animated film was very personal. When you hear him speak, you might think he had an inherent talent for voicing the bad-guy turned hero. Rather, it was a process of “becoming perfect for the character or the character becoming perfect for me” (Reilly). Reilly wasn’t necessarily aware of the animation process and wanted to be very involved. The director, story editor, and screenwriter brought Reilly in for story meetings, listened to his ideas, and allowed him to improvise. While Reilly was getting ready for his character and recording his voice, he was filmed. That footage was used by the filmmakers to hone Ralph’s character, which is why it seems like there is such a personal connection between the two. “When you work this hard on something, you want to feel like you’re part of the team…not just coming in to say lines” (Reilly).
As Reilly spoke about his involvement with the film, his passion was evident. “If I could have an office here at Disney and do this every day, I’d be perfectly happy. I like being creative and telling stories, and using my voice to do that is really satisfying.”
No voice actor has ever been as involved as Reilly was through the process, according to the animators. But that wasn’t his only requisite for being involved with the film. Reilly had learned that most actors doing voice over animation recorded alone, but requested that he work with Sarah Silverman, who voices the character of Vanellope. “The subtle things in your voice that you do when you are communicating with someone, even if you don’t see them, is different and difficult to reproduce (Reilly).”
Reilly enjoyed working with Silverman and they had great chemistry. “Sarah is a great improviser and has such a quick wit.” While Reilly felt like if the script was really good, they could do the script, he knew that if they were in the booth recording together, they would be firing stuff back and forth which is what ended up happening.
What will likely surprise audiences is how much heart there is in Wreck-It Ralph. One of the resounding themes in the film is “the ability to accept yourself and love who you are and enjoy life as you are” (Reilly). Reilly knew that the film would be set in the world of video games and enjoyed Disney’s classic storytelling approach. “Classic stories are really effective with children and older adults as well which is why these hero stories stick around” (Reilly).
The artistic backdrop and experience of being inside a video game combined with vibrant, relatable characters is a “win” for Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. And while the story wraps nicely, the world of video games continues to expand and “a creative mind could find a place for him [Ralph] to go.”
Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is in theaters nationwide.
No compensation was received for this post. I was invited to interview the talent and filmmakers which helped facilitate the writing of this post.