Although the title character of Walt Disney Pictures’ recent animated hit learned that getting a medal isn’t all that matters, come February 24, he may still be taking home some Oscar gold. Wreck-It Ralph stands nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and, soon after the telecast, fans will be able to bring Ralph home as the film hits DVD and Blu-ray on March 5.
ComingSoon.net sat down to speak with director Rich Moore about the incredible four-year road he traveled in bringing Wreck-It Ralph to the big screen. A veteran of modern animation, Moore’s credits include television series like “The Simpsons,” “The Critic” and “Futurama.” His feature debut having already grosssed nearly $400 million worldwide, Moore discusses the definite possibility of a sequel and shares his thoughts on the film’s unlikely thematic link to another major Oscar contender, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.
CS: Now that the film is out all over the world, what has been the biggest change for you?
Moore: The response that we’ve received from people in the United States and all over the world has been incredible. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling with the movie and it’s still opening in different countries. People have really, really embraced it and they’re so open and warm, saying, “Thank you for the movie and thank you for coming to our country.” It’s a great experience meeting the fans and meeting the press everywhere. That feels really good because we work on movies like this in a bubble. I was at the studio and spent almost four years making this film. It all takes place in one building. We don’t do a lot of traveling around like on a live-action movie where we might be going to different locations and different sets. We work on it under one roof. There comes a point where, as the director, I start to wonder. I hope that the audience will embrace it in the same way that I embrace it and I love it. I hope that I’m portraying it adequately so that the message I feel is there is coming across. To hear people say that it is, not just in the states but all around the world is great. For the nominations to come out the way they have and to actually pick up some awards along the way, it all feels very good. It’s very satisfying for me as a director. As an artist, it always feels good to be so warmly embraced.
CS: The end credits actually launch into the song, “When Can We Do This Again?” Is that you guys saying, “We’re ready for a sequel!”?
Moore: Absolutely. I am so down for it. Everyone that I speak to on the creative end would love to visit that world again. The voice actors. We had such a good time making it and we all became such good friends. It really felt like an actual family. It was a real pleasure. This is one of the great projects of my career where it just never felt like work. You almost feel bad — almost feel bad — for collecting a paycheck. It’s such a pleasure to work with this great team of people and it’s one of the most satisfying moments of my career. I would definitely, definitely, definitely run right back to that world to tell more stories there should the opportunity arise.
CS: The sort of existential crisis in Ralph’s life centers around him turning 30 and begins with him in therapy. Through the course of the film, he meets a much younger girl and the plot begins to follow this competition that she’s trying to win. Maybe it’s a strange comparission, but I was thinking about “Wreck-It Ralph” when I watched David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and was noting how similar they are thematically.
Moore: Oh my god. I love that movie and I love David Rusell. As I watched “Silver Linings Playbook,” there was a point in the movie where I thought, “David and I are making the same movie, I think.” It’s the same kind of story, but told in an entirely different kind of way. It’s really cool that you say that because I haven’t shared that with a lot of people. I just met David recently and, as I watched his film, I was thinking, “Wow, we’re really in the same kind of territory.” We were both exploring some very, very similar themes of what’s going on inside a person’s head and meeting that outside force of another person similar to them that helps them get outside themselves from another direction. I love stories like that, especially when they are uplifting and feature flawed but appealing characters. I love the Bradley Cooper character in “Silver Linings Playbook.” He’s just so appealing, but also kind of broken. You’re rooting for him to get back together again. That’s exactly how I feel about Ralph and that’s how I approached the character of Ralph. He’s a comedic character, but he’s got real problems going on inside his head. That’s where the real struggle is going on. He’s kind of fallen out of love with himself and bought into the bad press that says he’s a bad guy. It’s more about him rediscovering his passions and falling back in love with the things that he does that heals him. I love those types of stories and I like characters that aren’t perfect. When we meet them, we meet them warts and all and still love them. We care about them and are rooting for them because we want them to have what they want. Frankly, that’s how John C. Reilly became involved with the project. We were developing the story in the early days of the project and it was clear to me that this was a character that, in the wrong hands, could come off as very unappealing. That’s what I love about John. I’ve been a huge, huge fan of his work for many, many years. The thing I love about him is that he makes his characters so incredibly human regardless of whether the movie is a drama or a comedy. He’s really always on board with his characters and I’m rooting for them regardless of whether their goals are very silly or almost kind of impossible. A fool’s errand. That’s exactly why I wanted him involved from the very beginning.
CS: I’m very fond of the notion that, when things aren’t going entirely well in your world, stepping into someone else’s world is a good way of reexamining yourself. In the case of “Wreck-It Ralph,” that becomes very literal, but I think it’s a big part of the reason that people love movies in the first place.
Moore: I agree with you. I can only speak for myself, but I can always give advice to someone else. If someone comes up to me and says, “I’m having trouble with this,” it’s always very simple for me to say, “Oh, do this and this and this.” I think that, just as human beings, there are certain things in our makeup that are emotional or mental blindspots that are very, very hard for us to fix on our own or to address on our own. I think that’s really the beauty of friendship and using someone else as a set of eyes to give us another perspective on our lives. Like you say, that’s a role that movies play. That’s why we have stories. They were always kind of a way to narrate someone saying, “There was a point where I felt like this. These things happened. This is how it turned out.” We hand down stories through the ages to communicate the struggles we’ve been through or the moments in life that occured and that we feel are worthy to pass on.
CS: What has been the best response from fans so far?
Moore: There have been so many great ones. The one that really, really touched me was a mom who was writing about her autistic daughter. She took her to the film and said that she doesn’t really respond to too many films. Once the character of Vanellope appeared on the screen, she was just transfixed. She said that she really related to the character of Vanellope and the mom was so happy that Vanellope winds up prefering to be who she is because of the glitch. That’s the person that she loves. The glitch kind of defines her character in a way that she wouldn’t trade it. She said that that’s how her daughter feels. If she could make it go away, she thinks she would keep it, too because it’s so much of her. The hardships that she has had to endure has made her into a strong person and she wouldn’t want to trade that. That’s a lot of what the movie is about and to hear it really applied in practical terms really, really touched me. That was the moment where I said, “If nothing else happens with this film and it suddenly disappears tomorrow, this means it was still worth it.” The whole blog entry was really, really powerful to me.
CS: The Blu-ray is hitting early next month. Is there anything in specific that you’re anxious for fans to check out in the special features?
Moore: I’m really excited about the fact that we’re able to share a lot of omitted scenes. They appear in the form of story sketches. It takes such a long time to make these movies and the way we make them is by remaking them. There were probably seven different versions of the movie over four years with a lot of it around as story sketches and animatics. Each time we would improve the story reel we would go back and rewatch it. Over time, the movie gets better and the story gets better. Over those four years, we tried a lot of different things and oftentimes those kind of ideas never get to see the light of day or they’d go into our vault and we’d say, “If there’s a sequel, maybe we can dust off an old idea.” For the most part, though, there’s a lot that just never gets used because it changes so much over the years. You have to kind of not be precious with things and know what stays and what goes. I think we have quite a few on the Blu-ray and the audience will get to see them in their very rough stages. If they never make it into the film, they never get animated so it’s like watching a blueprint or a rough draft. I think that’s really exciting, especially for fans of animation. I think it’s a really cool kind of peek behind the curtain at how we do the magic.
CS: There were rumors some time ago that Disney’s other video game character, Tron, was going to make an appearance. What happened there?
Moore: I can’t specifically remember why that didn’t happen. I think that, at the time I said it, it seemed like a pretty sure bet. I’ve learned from that not to say something until I know 100 percent that we have the rights to someone. Of course, with a sequel, I’m hoping that we can find a way to see Tron himself in that movie.
(Photo Credit: FayesVision / WENN.com)