Even though she’s long been one of the hottest comedians in the country, Sarah Silverman admits she was a bit of a wreck before getting her voice role in “Wreck-It Ralph.” After all, Silverman — whose non-politically correct and decidedly raunchy brand of humor is enough to make any adult blush — isn’t exactly the first person you’d associate with a kid-friendly Disney film.
“I’m such a huge Disney fan, and just the fact that they wanted me or were willing to have me read the script is so cool. I wanted to cry,” Silverman told me in a recent interview. “When people are exposed to one side of you — even people whose job it is to see beyond that stuff — you still can get pigeonholed.”
Like Silverman, Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) has done voice roles before, just not for Disney. And like his co-star, he didn’t take the opportunity lightly.
“Never in a million years did I anticipate doing a Walt Disney movie. It is so surreal and special, and all of us appreciated that,” McBrayer told me in a separate interview. “Not for one minute did any of us take anything for granted.”
New in 2D and 3D theaters Friday, “Wreck-It Ralph” takes place in an arcade where Ralph (John C. Reilly) — a lonesome, 8-bit retro video game character — comes to the conclusion that he’s sick of being the bad guy. Day in and day out, Ralph wrecks the Niceland high-rise apartment complex so all-around good guy Fix-It Felix Jr. (McBrayer) can put it back together and become the hero.
Leaving behind the pile of bricks he calls home to travel across other generations of video games in the hopes of becoming a hero himself, Ralph is suddenly catapulted into candy-coated cart-racing game Sugar Rush, where he meets the tiny but feisty Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman) — a misfit in the game’s world because she’s a glitch.
Unfortunately, Ralph’s first true friendship may be a short one, since he inadvertently unleashed a deadly enemy on his quest to become a hero. With the help Vanellope, Felix and Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) — the hard-knocks leader from first-person action game “Hero’s Duty” — Ralph needs to stop the enemy before it destroys everything.
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Silverman said director Rich Moore and his crew were not only happy to let his comedic performers improvise in the audio booth, there were times the cast members got to record their dialogue together — a rare occasion in the animated film world.
“Since I got to record with John C. Reilly, we got to look into each other’s eyes and play scenes out and improvise, and I think that it really added that little extra nuance in the dynamic of our characters that you don’t necessarily get when people just record alone in a booth,” Silverman said. “We would record separate, too, but when we recorded together, we found some new things.”
Another big advantage to recording together is the actual physical presence of other actors, which Silverman said was all the more fun because they’re all so much like their characters in real life.
“John and I fell in love with each other and became family, just like Ralph and Vanellope,” Silverman gushed. “He’s just this big, lovable lug of a man. He’s so much like Ralph.”
“He’s a big ol’ guy with a huge heart,” McBrayer added about Reilly. “Plus, since I did ‘Talladega Nights’ with him years ago, it was just like hanging out with a good friend.”
While Silverman didn’t get a chance to work with McBrayer and Lynch as much as she did with Reilly, she loved them just the same. And like Reilly, Silverman said the two were just like their characters … almost.
“The film is cast so well. Jack is the most ridiculously sweet, chipper guy and Jane is totally Sergeant Calhoun although she’s much more lovable in person,” Silverman said.
While McBrayer appreciated Silverman’s comparing him to Felix, he thinks the character may be just a little too ambitious for his own good.
“We share some qualities. I’m a people-pleaser and I love being good at my job, but Felix is a little too above and beyond,” McBrayer said, laughing. “He’s a little too fixated on fixing stuff.”
Silverman, on the other hand, has no problems identifying with Vanellope.
“I felt so connected to that scrappy kid … I think people have babies so they can have a little them and get it right this time, but I got that opportunity in the form of animation,” Silverman said. “She’s this little girl with a little black ponytail and little thick eyebrows, and I just beam with pride.”
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Interview: Bruce Greenwood: ‘Flight’
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