Following their Hall H panel at Comic-Con, Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore, along with voice actors John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph) and Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz), held a press conference to discuss the highly anticipated animated feature. The story follows a bad-guy character in a classic game, who longs to be a hero, but brings trouble to his entire arcade after sneaking into a new first-person shooter game and unleashing a deadly enemy. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
JOHN C. REILLY: I’m dating myself by saying this, but I was the test audience for Space Invaders. I remember when that was the first game that wasn’t a pinball game. I spent a lot of money on Space Invaders, in the form of quarters, of course. But, I have a family now, so I don’t have a lot of time to play video games.
SARAH SILVERMAN: I loved Pitfall. I also liked Joust and Centipede.
RICH MOORE: I’m going to say Pac-man, but it had to be a sit-down Pac-man.
John, do you see any similarities between Ralph and the other characters you’ve played in the past?
REILLY: You know, the truth is that us actors would all like to believe we re-invent the wheel, every time we play a character. But, we’re human beings and our instruments are not violins, they are our bodies and our consciousness and our collective life experience. So, I suppose there are certain qualities that I bring to a character.
On the subject of violence in video games, to what extent does this movie draw on that conversation and how does it contribute to that conversation?
MOORE: I think it would be impossible to make a movie about video games, if there wasn’t some violence that we know from video games. But, it’s a PG-rated movie, so we draw the line on body parts and gore, although we do have a heart getting ripped out.
MOORE: It’s a clean kill. He’s undead. But, it would be impossible to do a shooter game without shooting, you know? So, you will see some of that type of violence, that we know from those games, in there, but it never feels like we take it to a point where it’s gratuitous or gory. I think we’ve done a good job of representing it, where I don’t think a fan of those types of genres would feel like they’ve been short-changed because we didn’t take it to a certain level. I think it’s well-represented, but keeps us right in that area of a family comedy.
It seems like the nostalgia for these 8-bit games is coming back, and there was even recent episode of Community that took place in a video game. Why do you think those games are popular again?
MOORE: I think that the nostalgia for them would be akin to how people felt in the ‘50s and ‘60s about rubber hose animation of the ‘20s and the ‘30s. It was the first step towards the games that we know today. When video games were a baby, that’s what they looked like. Now, they’ve matured. They’re so realistic that I think there is history within the video games. You can look back and see what they used to look like, and you can see the fun that can be had, playing those two ends against one another to get that mash-up quality of the genres and the looks. I think that’s why now is a pretty good time to be making this movie. I don’t think you could have made this 10 years ago and had the same [response]. I don’t think it would have struck the same chords that it does now. It feels like there’s something for everyone in video games. It’s not just a toy for a certain age group. It’s steeped in the culture now.
SILVERMAN: You can wear sweats, but you don’t emote less. If anything, it’s the opposite because you have to transcend your visual self and get the emotion across. John is a real-deal actor, so we would record together and look in each other’s eyes. It was really cool! You almost become more of the process in animation because everyone is influenced by everyone else’s contribution, and it develops in that way. That’s why, when Disney movies finally come out, they’re fucking masterpieces!
REILLY: They used to do these acting exercises, when I was in school, where they’d put up a piece of fabric and you would only be able to see your feet. They’d say, “Okay, now improvise a scene without using your voice or making sounds. Tell everything you need to, just through your feet.” It sounds insane, but you’d be amazed at what you can convey with just your hands or just your feet. It’s the same with doing voice-over work. You’re taking everything – your whole experience that you’d normally do with your body – and you’re channeling it all into your voice. I became somewhat good at the various sound effects, even though [director Rich Moore] had to keep reminding me, “John, they will provide the sound. You don’t have to do the swoosh.” Just because you’re only using your voice, it doesn’t mean that your body isn’t engaged, at the same time.
Rich, how did you obtain the rights to use the well-known video game characters in the movie?
MOORE: When we were developing the movie, right away we knew, “If we’re going to make a movie about video games, we can’t just make up a bunch of fake characters.” We wanted to have the real thing for the movie. We wanted real characters from real games, so that it felt authentic. We just began by taking the characters that we liked and putting them in situations that we thought were funny or dramatic. And then, from there, we had to begin a process of going to these places and talking to these people to see if we could use them. It was a process of just creating relationships with the other studios, and really being forthright about how we wanted to use the characters, what it was all about and what the movie was. Surprisingly, it was easier than we thought. It was not as bad as we thought it was going to be because people are excited to be a part of something like this.