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Wreck-It Ralph - Sarah Silverman interview

Wreck It Ralph

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SARAH Silverman talks about her joy at being able to voice the character of Vanellope in Wreck-It Ralph and why she felt flattered to be given the opportunity to contribute to a wholesome Disney movie.

She also discusses getting to grips with the animated process, getting to improvise slightly and what she considers her own real-life glitch to have been. She was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. Ralph is trying to win a medal for the first time. Do you know what that feels like? What was the first medal you won?
Sarah Silverman: Our soccer team… everybody got a certificate that was like an award for a positive thing in high school. And I was the only one that got… I got ‘least popular on the van’ because I wouldn’t let anybody sleep on away games.

Q. What is your worst glitch?
Sarah Silverman: Well, let’s see. My worst glitch… I think that the best comparison of a glitch in my life was that I was a bed wetter. I wet the bed until I was in my teens. And I thought it would be my biggest shame, like my most embarrassing thing. I never thought I would be sitting in front of the media talking about it! But here I am proudly and without any shame telling you that that was my glitch and now I’ve turned it into my super-power because it made doing stand-up not at all scary because I thought ‘what’s the worst that’s going to happen’? People are going to boo me off the stage? I spent eight weeks at camp peeing my cot every night and making the bed over it. It made me brave.

Q. Was voicing a lead character in a Disney animation a long-held ambition? And did your edgy stand-up work make this a more unlikely dream?
Sarah Silverman: I grew up with Disney movies, I love Disney movies but I never imagined that I’d get to be a part of one. It seems like an odd fit at first, maybe to the naked eye. But the dirtiest comic when I was growing up was Eddie Murphy and he plays the Donkey in Shrek, so…

Q. So, turning the question around was it a chance to subvert expectations. It means you can play a character you might not get cast as in live action?
Sarah Silverman: That would be great, yeah. It’s often remarkable and surprising to me the lack of imagination that people in show-business have. And when people like Rich Moore can imagine someone like me in a wholesome movie I have a lot of gratitude.

Q. Was it written into your contract that you’d only voice the character if it contained a joke about doody?
Sarah Silverman: [Laughs] It should have been but that was just a happy accident in so many ways. I guess you could call it a happy and an accident.

Q. Was there much room for improvisation?
Sarah Silverman: The script was perfectly written. Rich was so supportive. We would do the lines as scripted and then we would go off and improvise off of them and take left turns and have wild digressions and bits of those probably made it on there.

Q. Which arcade game characters were your own favourites growing up?
Sarah Silverman: We had Atari and an arcade. There’s a game called Joust that our local Dairy Queen… I mastered it in between dipped cones! It’s finger speed, like Centipede as well. I probably departed with video games after Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64. I know every room, I know every nook and cranny of it and I didn’t want to go beyond that [laughs].

Q. How animated did you get in the booth? I gather John [C Reilly] got quite physical?
Sarah Silverman: Well, when John had to make noises like he was running… it was so awkward but he was so great at it. He’d just do all the motions. But we are acting and using our whole bodies in the way that everybody else would. They’re extracting our voices, of course, but there are also cameras for the animators to use as reference – our expressions and our movements. But just like when you’re talking to someone on the phone, you’re not only using your voice. It’s like you’re walking around and you’re pacing and moving; it’s just natural. But John was very animated.

Q. How did you get into the mindset of a young girl like your character? And did it make you feel at all broody?
Sarah Silverman: I felt very close to this character. I related to her very much. I felt like she was some kind of convergence of my un-dealt with inner child and the childhood I completely also forgot to have. So, I relate to her a lot from when I was a kid to now – this girl who is obnoxious and tough and, of course, like anybody who is obnoxious and tough is protecting this soft and very sensitive inner core. Was that a good answer? And did it make me feel broody? Well, I’m baby crazy. I love kids. But I just feel like ‘not ready’! I know I’m old but I still don’t feel ready. I want to do it when it’s all I want. And I’ll adopt.

Read our review

Read our interview with director Rich Moore