Ralph Breaks the Internet plays around with the word insecurity, from the security of the internet and video games to Ralph's own personal insecurities, and much like our lives today Ralph's insecurities become more amplified with social media. With such an important message behind the film, it was only fitting that the Ralph Breaks the Internet cast interviews became somewhat of an impromptu therapy session as the cast shared some of their own insecurities with us. John C. Reilly's best advice on not letting insecurities get you down was, “Every person in their life has to learn not to judge yourself and be kind to yourself inside of your own thoughts.”
The Ralph Breaks the Internet press conference was moderated by Dani Fernandez, who…fun fact…is the inspiration for the animated character Shank, voiced by Gal Gadot, and included Writer and Director Phil Johnston, Director Rich Moore, Sarah Silverman, John C. Reilly, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Co-Writer (and voices Snow White) Pamela Ribbon, and Producer Clark Spencer.
The Ralph Breaks the Internet Cast Talk About Insecurities; Parenting
We're now at a point in history where children graduating high school have never been without the internet. But, growing up online doesn't come without its cons. Today, kids are faced with challenges we never had pre-internet, like cyberbullying, loneliness, loss of community, and the unhealthy trend of looking for anonymous acceptance from strangers.
And the casts' insecurities? A chatty John C. Reilly shared his childhood nickname given to him by his parents who always reminded him, “Don't wear out your welcome.” as he traveled around various relative's houses throughout his neighborhood each day.
Like many of us, Sarah Silverman grapples with being the age she is and the cellulite on her thighs. But, instead of letting her insecurities get to her, she pauses and flips her thought. That age, she'll never be that young again. And those thighs, they're strong and her body works. Those thighs help her stand and walk and move.
While Phil Johnston opened up about feeling depressed and anxious for years and being afraid of those thoughts, and how some of his own struggles come out in Ralph.
But what resonated with me the most was the outlook the cast has on parenting. At the end of the film, Felix and his wife talk about what the secrets of being a good parent are, and of course, we had to ask the cast what their secrets were to being a good parent.
- Taraji P. Henson: I'll just say honesty and truth. Now with the Internet, you can't shelter them much. You just have to be as honest as you can. Just tell them the facts and guide them. And hope they don't run into a wall.
- John C. Reilly: I would say the most important thing for me is seeing who the child is as opposed to who you want them to be or who you think they will become. But who are they? That includes what kind of school does this kid need to go to? Not what kind of school does our family go to? What kind of school does this kid need to go to? And if you have more than one kid, it's different for each one. So basically, recognizing the humanity of that person, the distinct identity apart from you. And accepting it.
- Rich Moore: I would say it was always never talking down to my kids. Always talking to them as human beings. And not trying to aim them towards things.
- Phil Johnston: I was not a terribly exceptional kid and I am not worried that my kids aren't geniuses. I'm not going to shove them into something that they don't want. I don't care that they're not the best at math right now. I love them and I'll help them, and they're going to be fine. I will do my best to keep them safe and let them know that. They have enough pressure in the world. They don't need it from me.
That's some pretty great advice.
The Ralph Breaks the Internet Cast Interviews
Rich Moore: We did, too, until we looked at the very last line of the first movie where, after going friendless for the whole movie and then finally making a friend, Ralph's back home and says, “If that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?” It seemed so sweet at the time. It's a wonderful sentiment. But, as we continued to pick at it, we said, that's really, really dysfunctional. That this guy is defining himself by what his best friend thinks. It's a great best friend. But what if she were not to like him someday? What would that lead to?
John C. Reilly: Well, I'm a vintage human being. I wouldn't guess from the outfit. Yeah. The character, it was initially even conceived as a fish out of water kind of character. That was a lot of what we played within the first film is how does Ralph behave or how does any video game character behave in a game that's not his own. And then the Internet is this literally infinite landscape. There's a lot of really fun metaphors that we're also playing within the film. This idea that the arcade is like the childhood kind of arena of their friendship and the Internet represents the sort of larger world beyond as they grow and mature.
And Ralph, as you mentioned in your comment, Phil, in the beginning, Ralph really worked so hard to get a friend in that first one. He's like got it. Rest of life solved. Then Vanellope starts to grow and mature and realize that she wants to feel like she belongs somewhere and it's not her candy game. I think a lot of kids and adults will find a lot of stuff in the film that they can really relate to in terms of the way relationships evolve. So I think there's something here for a lot of people. And certainly a lot of jokes that operate on a lot of different levels.
Sarah Silverman: It was a dream come true. I couldn't believe it. When you guys told me I was going to have a song, we had already been recording for a while, and I couldn't believe it. The music was written by Alan Menken and I got to meet him and work with him and rehearse with him. He played somewhere that's green for me to sing from Little Shop of Horrors, my favorite. And of course, he's the Disney icon of iconic songs. It was incredible. Then we recorded with a whole orchestra as you see in old timely movies. He was crazy. It was really the thrill of a lifetime.
Pamela Ribbon: One of the things I hope they think about is when you have to start a new school or your friendships change and you move into a new place, that fear that you have. That everything will be different and you'll never know those friends again. We really thought about that, that shift in life. Because it keeps happening. No matter how old you get, you move into a new place and you meet new friends. And you don't have to lose your old ones.
John C. Reilly: Among many things, first of all, I hope kids are entertained and feel like this story relates to them and that they recognize some of their own friendships in these characters. But I do hope, you know when you do something unhealthy or something that makes you unhappy, and you just do it in a kind of mindless way. You get caught in these patterns of behavior, then at some point, if you make a move towards being more healthy, you say, why am I doing that?
I think this idea of chasing after anonymous love, in our movie these hearts. Or this idea that kids are reaching out for acceptance from people they don't know. and how that's ultimately kind of an empty feeling. I hope that kids come away with that aha moment that I just described. Which is like why do I do that? Why do I want to do that? Because that's the first step to really understanding a situation.
Rich Moore: I always liked it, when I was a kid, films that made me realize I'm not the only one that does these kinds of things or feels this way. Because I think like with depression, like with anxiety, with a lot of these issues, even bullying, there is a component that it's shameful and that we shouldn't talk about it. I've got to keep it to myself. As a kid, when I would see a movie where I saw a character going through the same things that I was, it made me feel like okay, I'm not alone. I'm not crazy. I'm not a freak, the only person on earth feeling these things.
Clark Spencer: I think there are two things that end up happening. One is technology is just improving in terms of the ability to render faster, which is a big key component to it. The second thing with Kong Ralph which is really interesting, we had to change our pipeline paradigm. We had to actually not let it be something that would happen at the end of our process. We would have four departments come together to work in tandem with each other. So it's really the effects department, lighting, animation, and crowds, who all came together to work as a team which is outside of the pipeline we usually use.
Then the third piece is technology came in and really figured out a way to make sure that the characters don't interpenetrate each other. That was going to the biggest most complicated part of it because there are 50,000 Ralphs in the close-up of Kong Ralph and 300,000 total, and we needed to make sure that they don't actually interpenetrate in any shot that we're actually looking at. So there are many pieces of the puzzle that had to all come together to create that. It's a story where the directors had this idea and the story artists pitched it. Then you wonder again, is it something that we're going to actually be able to realize in time. And it was an incredible process to actually watch come together.
Phil Johnston: The simplest comp is after several horrible ideas that didn't really make sense, we finally landed on something where we thought of it like an old city like Rome or Istanbul where the ancient city is buried deep beneath. Then they build a new version on top of that and a new version on top of that like that. That's kind of actually what the Internet is. You go down to the guts of it and you find cat memes, AOL, dial-up, dogs jumping on trampolines.
That's how we envisioned it. Like a city that is multi-layered with the newest, biggest Websites are up on top. Then the old forgotten stuff is down at the bottom.
Taraji P. Henson: I just thought she was incredible. When Rich and Phil brought her to me and explained to her, I was like, this is a no-brainer. She's a go-getter. She's the head of a company. She's no-nonsense. She has a heart. My favorite scene is when Ralph finds himself in the comment section or the comment room. She comes in and she tells him it's not you, it's them. They're mean. They're hurt, so they're hurting you. It grounded the film for me and it grounded the character for me. Made her multi-dimensional.
John C. Reilly: I went in and met with the animators a couple of times to talk about the way Ralph moves. And also just to check in with them. And establish a relationship with them so that I could feel like I was working in concert with them. And I remember this one really moving conversation I had with them where I realized, the Internet is like the central issue of our time. Our relationship to this technology, its power, and its effect on us, we don't even quite understand yet. It's as powerful as like a nuclear bomb. But it uses other means. So it was really exciting in the context of an entertaining Disney film to be able to talk about some of these issues in a really, really real way. Its effect on people. Why do we crave the anonymous acceptance of people we don't know? All of this stuff. The way we're bombarded with commerce on the Internet. So we made this fun entertaining story. But I think certainly you must have asked this question for this reason. That you come away from the film thinking about some of the most important issues of our time.
Jack McBrayer: We bit off way more than we could chew due to the circumstances, Calhoun and Felix do bring in all of the kids from the racing game. After a few years of marriage, they've experienced some tension and perhaps some stagnation. So now they're thrust into these new circumstances that really force them to not only evaluate how they feel about each other but what their preconception of what parenthood could be is the reality.
Q: I loved about this film is that the Internet is brought to life. You see the search box and it's a guy who is auto-filling. That's just great. My question is, was there anything that you brought to life that was on the cutting room floor? Like something about the Internet that was just a great idea that you just couldn't bring
to the movie?
Phil Johnston: One thing I remember, there was a big anti-virus component in this sort of brutalist architecture behind this anti-virus facility called [PH] Interneet. And they had this woman running it based after my mother named BEV. Built to Eradicate Viruses. She was this really kindly mid-western woman. But then had this nasty like fascistic kind of streak to her. My mother is lovely. I don't know why we did that to my mom.
But that was a storyline where we had that as a force of antagonism. And then ended up settling on Ralph's own insecurity being more the antagonist in the film.
‘Ralph Breaks the Internet' hits theaters this Wednesday, November 21st!
Ralph Breaks the Internet Press Conference Photos
About Ralph Breaks the Internet
In RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush. Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet—the Netizens—to help navigate their way. Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces—so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had. Directed by Rich Moore (“Zootopia,” “Wreck-It Ralph”) and Phil Johnston (co-writer “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Zootopia,” writer, “Cedar Rapids”), and produced by Clark Spencer (“Zootopia,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Bolt,” “Lilo & Stitch”).