Upon being offered the chance to lend their lungs to a Disney/Pixar film, particularly one that served as an ode to video games, actors John C.Reilly and Sarah Silverman couldn’t have slammed down the start button any faster or more vehemently. Truth be told, director Rich Moore was also rather convincing. CLINT MORRIS chats to the stars of “Wreck-it Ralph” on the arm-twisting that wasn’t needed to get them to sign onto a ‘toon movie.
Last time we talked John, I had my kid here.
John C.Reilly : That’s right! With Will [Ferrell]. You should have brought her along today! When we did the junket for this in the states we had so many reporters bring their kids along. It was on a weekend day or some kind of school holiday. Remember how many kids ended up coming with some of the reporters at the junket, Sarah?
Sarah Silverman: Yeah!
JR: There were lots of kids there.
SS: That was so fun.
The patronage would’ve set the mood for the junket, especially for a film like this. But be honest, Was it my child that inspired you to do this film?
JR: That’s right.
JR: It’s all about your child, Clint [Laughs]
Oh believe me, it’s always about her.
JR: I know. I’m a parent, I know. No, I just… This came about. It just kind of fell on my lap, actually. I mean… And then Rich Moore convinced me it was gonna be a good thing to do.
JR: And it was gonna be fun, it was gonna be creative and collaborative and that, he was a man of his word.
And for you Sarah, when you were offered this, did you immediately start vocal exercising?
SS: Yeah. I’m a big Disney fan and I just couldn’t believe they wanted me. I was really excited.
And had either of you done animation before?
JR: I did a movie called Nine.
JR: Which is just kind of post-apocalyptic…
SS: I have only done television and animation.
And you’d both now know what a long journey it is from script to screen on these things. So, when does your role kind of start?
SS: About two and a half years ago…For me. John really started on the ground floor.
JR: No, there were… Yes, in terms of actor’s involvement. But before, I was even meeting with Rich. They had been working or at least developing it for at least a couple of years.
Does starting on, as Sarah said, ‘the ground floor, automatically snare you input rights?
JR: Yeah, a little bit. I mean… I’m gonna get this out of your way. Someone used this as a microphone stand earlier (moves stand).
JR: Yeah. I mean, I think if you are playing a leading role in one of these films like you are a part of the creative process of the character whether you like it or not, because the creative process of finding the character is listening to your voice, your take on the character, and then even your expressions and stuff. They videotape you while you’re filming, so the animator’s actually using you as a creative inspiration for the character, so yeah. But that said, they also brought me in for like kind of story meetings where they would ask me my thoughts about the story in general or I’d force them to listen to my ideas, so that’s the story in general. Yeah, they ended up very generously giving me an additional story credit at the end of the movie which I was quite chuffed about.
SS: That’s so cool!
There you go. It’s like the gold coin.
JR: Not bad. And then… I didn’t see it coming either. It was like right at the last minute, right as they’re finishing the credit sequence. They’re like “John, we’re thinking about acknowledging your contribution in this way,” and I was like, “Wow!” It was actually very moving.
There’s a whole career in conceiving animated projects there for you in the future.
JR: We’ll see.
Dream big, man. There’s the sequel. You could do it basically, and write, direct, produce, conceive the whole thing.
JR: There’s a lot of work there.
I can’t imagine.
JR: I Like the actor’s job of just showing up and…
JR: Showing up in your pyjamas in the recording studio and making fart sounds or goofy noises, like…
Is that how it is? Can you pretty much walk up in your briefs to the studio and just lay it down?
JR: Yeah, Sarah hops in a…
SS: John likes to dress… John likes to be respectful, put on a hat and coat. I wear sweatpants and sneakers.
JR: Sarah is in her sweats. It says “Juicy” on the butt.
SS: No, not “Juicy” but “bounce’ on the butt. Actually, my favourite sweatpants say Red Sox on the butt but they’re not. I really just sleep in them. How did we get here? Oh, yeah.
JR: But what do you like when you record…
SS: No hair and make-up, just rolling, but it is still… You’re still using your whole body, dare I say, instrument. We got to be together and look in each others eyes and play scenes like actors, like real actors.
Had you guys ‘kicked it’ before doing the film?
JR: Yeah. Socially, right?
SS: We went to summer camp together [Laughs]
JR: I remember seeing you in the alley. I think one of the last times I saw you was in the alley when Judd Apatow was shooting that movie at that theatre down town.
JR: I was like…
SS: That’s right, at the Orpheum. That’s back there in the alley where people are hanging out.
JR: And then another time, I was at a mutual friend’s house in Laurel Canyon and we played ping pong, you and I and your sister. Remember that?
SS: Yeah, oh! I do remember. I know who it was. It was Jane Adams.
JR: That’s right.
SS: And yeah, you were probably impressed by both, my sister and I, ping pong prowess. We’re both athletically inclined.
JR: And your great beauty. I’m bummed your kid couldn’t come, why didn’t you bring her today?
Well, she wanted to. She was like, “I wanna go,” because…
JR : I wanna see Uncle John.
She did love the movie.
JR: Oh, good.
SS: Who’s her favourite character? Probably Ralph, right?
CM: No, actually. It’s not, actually. It’s yours, yeah.
SS: Fuck, yes!
Charisma Morris is the’s the hardest, harshest critic ever.
JR: Yeah. I can imagine! Your kid!
But for this, she sat there and she didn’t move..one inch through the whole film. That’s something for her not to be walking in and out. Her 3D glasses stayed on. Kids aren’t big fans of 3D glasses. They will tend to throw them off. She stayed on. She was just fixated and I haven’t heard the end of it. It’s like when’s the Wreck-It Ralph coming out, so I can see it again.
JR: Boxing Day.
Indeed. It scores in her book, that’s for sure. So, I’m guessing, it’s gonna score with all kids. Have you guys watched with an audience of ankle-biters?
JR: I have seen with some kids and it was a slam dunk, as we say, in America.
SS: Yeah, super fun.
It’s a big wet sloppy kiss to the retro video games, which my kid and a lot of the young kids wouldn’t have seen – especially Sonic and so on, but it works. Were you guys big video game fans growing up?
SS: I was. We had Atari growing up and we went to… There’s an ice-cream store called Dairy Queen. I don’t know if that’s a chain here. And we had a game called Joust there and I mastered it between dipped cones.
JR: Yeah. I was kind of like the first generation. I mean I was right in the pocket of the people that were hoping those games would be played by when they came out. And yes, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, all those, I was like… It was kind of… You know, if you think about it now like, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what a seismic shift in the world it was in terms of entertainment.
Yeah, for sure.
JR: And up until that point, there were no cell phones. We didn’t even have a VCR. I think VCRs had been invented, but most people didn’t have them. No computers. So it was really… Space Invaders was the first time you were able to interact with the television screen which was huge.
SS: Pong, sorry.
JR: Well, I didn’t have Pong. We didn’t… Just in my neighbourhood.
SS: Was it coming up?
JR: Pong also seemed like… So much like… I don’t know. Pong… I don’t know. I thought Pong more was a… Would be in a bar.
SS: Oh, really?
JR: Yeah. And that’s the first place it showed up in our neighbourhood, was in a bar and then… Which is like… I don’t know. Space Invaders was the first one.
SS: Yeah. It was the first like arcade game.
SS: Space Invaders.
Speaking of invaders, I hear you’re been infiltrating the stage a bit lately. Have you got your band out here?
JR: Yeah, we’re playing tonight.
CM: Are you really?
JR: At the Northcote Social Club. We’ll talk after about coming down?
Sure. So how do you juggle the acting and the music? Is music just an interest for you or is it something you want to pursue more? Or…
JR: Well, it’s always been a part of my life. I have been doing musicals like Sarah has since we’re kids. And then, yeah, I learned to play guitar in college and, for the long time, it was just sort of like a companion travelling, like having a guitar was always just really good company. And then, I started to get out more and more in this club called Argo in Los Angeles, and then, all of sudden, I realized like actors… A lot of time, you pick bad stuff just because you are stir-crazy and you wanna work, and you get panicked. And so, the music has become this thing for me that allows me to do something I really enjoy and is a true labour of love. And it keeps me from doing things that I don’t believe in.
Piggybacking on the Easter Bunny. Right.
JR: It keeps me busy and keeps me engaged in a creative way. So, the people that I play with are good friends of mine too. So, it’s almost like my community.
SS: It’s so good.
What kind of music do you play, J?
JR: We do folk music, and old country music, and traditional Irish music, sea shanties. Roots music, I guess, would be the large umbrella over it.
Sore feet music. Nice!
JR: A lot of harmonies.
What are you following up ”Wreck-it Ralph” with?
JR: I don’t know.
JR: So far, that’s what I’m doing but it’s good.
SS: Yeah, I’m doing stand-up. I’m probably gonna tour because I’m working towards a special, and then just daydreaming and writing. I’m writing something, and then also, I will be sitting in my chair and daydreaming.
But there’s nothing lined up for you at the moment, John? What about Dinner? Lunch? Video-Games?
JR: Well, I’ve got a few things that… I’m a developing a book that we’re trying to turn it into a film, that I hope to play a part in, and I have a few things that are meant to be reading while I’m travelling here which I haven’t been reading but… Yeah. So those are the few things out there but…
Admit it, you’re holed up in a bathroom playing Pong on an ipad for the next few weeks!
JR: No, not the video games! Hahaha! I guess I’ll be going out to dinner with all the fun people that are with us right now – the publicists and studio people.
I know you have been here a few times now, because we catch up on most of your trips downunder.
You’d be getting to know the city pretty well.
JR: Melbourne always gets the short end of the stick on the publicity tours actually. Sydney, they give you… They decompress after the big jump over the ocean and then, there seems to be more outlets in Sydney, and by the time we get to Melbourne, it’s like “When were we in Melbourne?”
That good-looking interviewer with the kid. That’s Melbourne.
JR: Right! [Laughs] So, I never seem to have enough time to walk around, but I will have the rest of the day free shortly.
JR: So I hope to take a walk down by the river at least.
Now, this is a question from my daughter, so it’s a good one to end on. “Will there be more Wreck-It Ralph?” What do you guys think? Do you think they’ll be a sequel when this…
SS: You tell her there will be.
As long as her pop buys all the merchandise on the planet?
SS: If she and her friends see it enough, it’s all in her hands [laughter] If they don’t see it enough then, Ralph will die [Laughs].
JR: They wouldn’t make that merchandising if they didn’t have big long-term plans for the story. Some of the big muckety-mucks at the studio who I just saw the other night at the cocktail party were like, “We’re talking sequel.” The movie made $150 million, I think, in 11 days in the States, so… And it broke the box office record for a Disney animated movie on opening weekend. So, if those are any indications that…I bet we will do some kind of sequel.
It deserves one.
SS: Thank you.
JR: Really good fun, Clint. Thank you. All the best.
“Wreck-it Ralph” opens Boxing Day