October 24, 2012
Academy Award-nominee John C. Reilly (“Chicago”) breathes life to Ralph, a heavy-handed wrecking riot with a heart, in Walt Disney Animation Studios' 3D animated adventure, “Wreck-It Ralph.” For 30 years—day in, day out—Wreck-It Ralph has been doing his job as “The Bad Guy” in the arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr. But it’s getting harder and harder to love his job when no one seems to like him for doing it. Suffering from a classic case of Bad-Guy fatigue and hungry for a little wreck-ognition, Ralph embarks on a wild adventure across an incredible arcade-game universe to prove that just because he’s a Bad Guy, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy.
Reilly was called on to provide the voice of Ralph. “When we were talking about making the main character a ‘bad guy,’” says director Rich Moore, “we knew we needed someone the audience could get behind—support and love—even though he’s kind of rough around the edges. John inhabits the characters he plays and he connects to the humanity. He brought a lot of himself to Ralph, too, which is amazing.”
Reilly actually spent time with the production team, learning about the animation process, physically acting out certain scenes to provide reference to animators and contributing his own thoughts on the level of emotion a certain moment might demand. “After we talked with John, I think everybody felt a much deeper connection with the project,” says Renato dos Anjos, animation supervisor. “He really believed in the character and he probably knows Ralph better than anyone.” “Wreck-It Ralph is an amazing character,” says Reilly. “He has a huge heart, but he’s misguided. He has all the foibles of a real person even though he’s an arcade-game character. He means well in the beginning, but just goes about it in all the wrong ways. But in the end, he realizes what a hero really is.”
“He’s a man-child,” adds head of story Jim Reardon. “He wants to put his bad-guy days behind him, but it’s not until he starts thinking about somebody other than himself that he gets what he really needs, which is love—appreciation. A lot of kids’ movies are about becoming whatever you want to be just because you really want it, with no strings attached. Ralph's story is a little more realistic." In a film that features so many distinct worlds, it falls on Ralph’s shoulders—as the protagonist—to tie it all together. “Ralph is Ralph no matter what world he goes to,” says screenwriter Phil Johnston.
According to art director Mike Gabriel, Ralph went through more than a few wardrobe changes. While Felix and the Nicelanders represented civilized society, Ralph needed to be distinct. “At one point he just had a red shirt and shorts on,” says Gabriel. “But he’s the bad guy, right? That’s where the plaid shirt came in—we wanted to make him a MOUNTAIN MAN. Then someone suggested the henley and I put that on him.”
The team decided an accent color was in order and gave Ralph a blue-green undershirt, roughing up the whole look with a five o’clock shadow. Gabriel was sold. “I said, ‘That works. Now, he’s definitely a mountain man!’” A mountain man with really big hands. Dos Anjos and his team had to figure out how to navigate Ralph’s hands around other characters and the surrounding set. “They’re so massive, they were a huge challenge for us to animate because any time he moved, they’d crash into everything that was around him—which is typical Ralph, right?”
If only they’d had Felix around to fix the damage.
Opening across the Philippines in Nov. 01 in Disney Digital 3D and regular theaters, “Wreck-It Ralph” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.
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