This Friday we are all in for a treat. That is when the adrenaline filled, candy coated and totally entertaining and engaged film Wreck-It Ralph opens.
The film follows a video game character named Ralph and his quest for respect after decades of being the bad guy. He journeys to different video game lands in an animated homage of classic games from 8-bit to kitchy kart games. It’s a sweet feast for the eyes and heart for those with an appetite for a great animated epic.
We had the chance to sit down with the director Rich Moore and Clark Spencer to chat about the origins of the story, the characters and the cast.
Check out 5 things to know about Wreck-It Ralph right here:
One thing that you’ll notice in the movie is the amount of famous video game and candy icons that have cameos in the movie from Pac Man to Oreos. I asked how hard it was to secure permission to all these brands. Producer Clark Spencer stated that:
“I remember when Rich first pitched the idea, and Rich talked a lot about wanting authenticity, which means you have to have the real video game characters. We always wondered, what will we be able to get? And I think we always said, well, if we can get a few characters, that’ll really help ground it. But amazingly when we went out to the companies and they heard the idea for the film, they were very excited about it. And I think we had this moment when we both went to E3, the big gaming convention here in Los Angeles, and we went and Rich pitched the movie to the companies. Talked about where the characters might sit in the film. And they got really excited very quickly. And then it was a process over the course of many months, where we were talking with the companies, and the legal teams were all meeting with each other to talk about what can and can’t get done. Not simply, but surprisingly, it went a lot smoother than you might ever expect.”
Rich added in perhaps in jest, “The lawyers may not agree.”
“Someone had brought up that they had a notion of a story about video games. An idea that had been kind of floating around here for many years. And had kind of appeared in different iterations, since like the early 90s, I think. But it never really got off the ground…always kind of ended up being shelved and it had been shelved about a year before I started here (at Disney). And I thought, well, that’s, that’s kind of an interesting world, you know, of video games.”
“You know, I like video games, and it seems like it’d be fun. It’s like the audience would really like to visit something like that. I could see the potential for spectacle and comedy, and drama. And so it seemed like a great idea, without going to the material that had been developed before, I just started from square one - just the world of video games and their characters and what their lives are like.”
Struggling with the world of video games:
Rich continued to discuss the struggles of developing this world:
“I started to kind of develop that. And after about two days I thought, well, this is the worst idea …ever. Because they have one job that they do, day in and day out. There’s no free will. They’re programmed to do things. This would make a horrible movie. No one would want to watch these characters do their jobs. And then it hit me, well, that would be great if you had a main character who didn’t like his job and wondering, “is this all there is to life, this one thing that I do?” What if he was uncomfortable, in, in his own skin, doing that job? It really simply began with just those two things, like a big overarching world or universe of video games. And a very kind of personal conflict, internal conflict between the character and his world.
On the Voice Over Talent:
Director Rich Moore said of the cast that includes John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch. There’s an old saying, “Directing — good directing is 75% good casting.” You know, I believe that. I think that’s true. So it was important to me that we not just cast voices just for the sake of casting a popular voice. Or someone we think, “Oh well, if so and so’s in it, more people will come and see it. And it equals dollar signs.”
“I wanted really the actors to kind to come from the heart of the characters. You know, so as we were developing, Phil Johnston is the writer, and he and I, while we were developing the characters in the story, we would always say, “Well, now, who is this like, who, who would be good doing this?”
“Because ultimately, I think someone is eventually going to voice this character. So why not be thinking now, like who would, would do it justice? You know, so we would always kind of, as we were developing and fleshing out and imagining the characters, we would always kinda say like, “Well, it’s kinda like so and so”, and we had a big board that we would kinda put up pictures of people. And say like, “Well, Ralph is kinda like this person.” And sometimes it would change day to day, “No, he’s more like kinda this.”
I”t was our process of kind of focusing in on who the character is and who would really do justice to that character. We knew pretty early on that John C. Reilly would be great for this character. And, and I think Sarah (Silverman) was on that original pitch to John. And then the role of the character Sergeant Calhoun was (originally) a man….for a long time. (Sergeant Calhoun is voiced by Jane Lynch) And we just knew Felix needs to be the nicest man man in the world. So if Ron Howard’s not available…. No, we knew from the beginning Jack (Jack McBrayer) would be perfect for Felix. So it was all kind of developed in tandem.”
On celebrating the history of video games:
Rich Moore said of the video game world:
“In doing a movie about video games, I knew early on that I wanted to celebrate the different (genres). I think video games have been around long enough now, that they have history to them. You know, that, that you can look at games from the beginning like PONG. And you can put it next to HALO or most modern game today. If you want to wonder, how far we’ve come. I wanted to celebrate the difference in them. And so we kinda chose different genres of games that would illustrate that history of games.
We wanted an old arcade game - like an old 8-bit one. And we wanted like a modern one, a shooter game, and we wanted to do a kind of car racing game, a whimsical one. We wanted to kind of celebrate what made those different genres as unique and special.”
And Wreck-It Ralph is just that, unique and special.
You can see Wreck-It Ralph in theaters everywhere starting November 2nd.