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  • SSO Interview


    My exclusive interview with Sarah Silverman. - 06/07/07









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The online guide, ViewLondon, published this interview with Sarah and Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore.

Firstly congratulations, this is not just Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, this is the Oscar-nominated, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph! Do you have plans to go to the ceremony and have you got a tux ready and waiting?

Rich Moore

I thought I’d make it myself. Yeah, it’s all set. It’s a very strange type of thing because there’s really nothing like an awards show where it feels competitive but you’re not competing. It’s not like the Olympics or it’s not like the Super Bowl, it’s judgement being handed down. You have to dress up nice and go to a big place and sit there and wait for someone to hand down judgement on something that was done months ago.

Sarah Silverman

I think that if the movie teaches us anything, it’s that a medal is not what’s most important.

Rich Moore

So here’s hoping we win that Oscar!

Oscar isn’t a medal, though. If you won an Oscar would you wear it round your neck like a medal or what would you do with it?

Sarah Silverman

It’s made of metal.

Rich Moore

It’s made of metal. I don’t know if you could comfortably wear it.

Give it a go.

Rich Moore

If that’s what you want, then yeah.

Ralph is trying to attain something for the very first time, he’s trying to win a medal for the first time. So do you know what that feels like and what’s the first thing that both of you won?

Rich Moore

The first thing. I won a ribbon for a cake contest when I was in the boy scouts. We had to make cakes and they judged cakes and so mine came out so poorly that I just kind of piled it all up together and frosted it and put a sign at the top of it that said Mount Cake. And it won! I don’t know how it possibly beat all the other cakes!

Sarah Silverman

You took your shortcomings and you made it into your superpower just like in the movie! You took your glitch – alright, that’s a mess.

Rich Moore

And made a mountain out of it. So yeah, a ribbon for a cake contest.

Do you still have the ribbon?

Rich Moore

No.

Sarah, what was the first thing that you ever won?

Sarah Silverman

The soccer team, 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 ‘least popular on the van’, because I wouldn’t let anybody sleep on away games.

Do you still have that?

Sarah Silverman

No.

John was really funny in Hero’s Duty. Was he heroic in real life and Sarah, what is your worst glitch?

Sarah Silverman

Well, let’s see. My worst glitch – I think the best comparison of a glitch in my life is 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, my most embarrassing thing. I never thought I would be in front of 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 superpower 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 and it made me brave.

Rich Moore

And then what was the first part of the question?

Sarah Silverman

That was for John, but John is sick, that’s his downfall today.

Rich Moore

That’s his glitch.

Sarah Silverman

He has a terrible bug. He asked if John was heroic.

Rich Moore

I think very, you know, this was a new kind of process for John, this was the first time working on an animated feature for John and I think he jumped in with a lot of enthusiasm and did a great job. So I would give him a medal, yeah, I think he earned that.

Going to Disneyland was awesome. Was making the film as much fun and why?

Rich Moore

As going to Disneyland?

Sarah Silverman

It was pretty fun.

Rich Moore

I mean, to work with people like Sarah and John and lots of amazing artists who are so talented and really wanted to put their all into this film. I made a lot of great friendships over the course of making the film, so yeah, I would say it’s better than Disneyland.

Sarah Silverman

Yeah, but probably not for you, you probably wouldn’t have as much fun as in Disneyland, Disneyland’s pretty cool. But I liked it.

Rich Moore

There were no churros like at Disneyland.

Sarah, was voicing a lead character in a Disney animation a long held ambition and did your edgy stand-up work perhaps make this a more unlikely dream starting out?

Sarah Silverman

I grew up with Disney movies, I love Disney movies. 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.

To turn it round, is it a chance to subvert the expectation because people who don’t see the credits going in maybe don’t automatically realise it’s you, so you can play a character you might not normally 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 showbusiness have and when people like

Rich Moore

can imagine someone like me in a wholesome movie, I have a lot of gratitude.

So Rich, you didn’t see her as an odd fit?

Rich Moore

Not at all, no. I thought she was perfect for the part. The part might as well have been tailored for her because I was inspired by Sarah’s memoirs, The Bed-wetter, her autobiography, and I would listen to it on my iPod – it was you doing the reading of the book. And I loved the parts when you would talk about your childhood and how naïve you would say you were, but inappropriate with adults. And I thought that is a great character for the character of Vanellope, to have this kid that can really stand her ground and really be the one that kind of puts Ralph in his place. And not just the idea of the character, but Sarah playing that character just seemed perfect to me.

Following on from that, Sarah, was it written in your contract that you’d only voice this movie if it contained the word, ‘Doody?’

Sarah Silverman

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.

Rich Moore

I like to play to the strengths of my cast!

Was there a lot of improvisation because you guys recorded together? Did any slip in?

Rich Moore

Well I think it would always; we would work from the page first.

Sarah Silverman

Yeah, 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.

Rich Moore

And then we would always try to channel it back towards the scene a little bit at the end, you know. So I always thought of it in three steps, that it was first the page, then the playing and kind of going off of the reservation and then we would then try to kind of pull it back into the scene and I really enjoyed it. And it wouldn’t just be the actors, but it would be myself there, the writer, our head of story and everyone was there, no one was precious with the material. The writer wasn’t saying, ‘No, but this is how I wrote it and we need to say it like this!’ We were always trying to make the scene as funny or as touching or as emotional as it could be and it was a case of the best idea winning. We were just trying to elevate the material in each of our ways.

You have this very impressive animation background, but how was it being given the keys to the Disney toy box and allowing you to do some of the characters in 8-bit?

Rich Moore

Well, it was wonderful to be handed Disney’s take on videogames. There are moments were I would have to take a pause and when I was working with Phil Johnston, the screenwriter, we would say to each other, ‘Can you believe they’re letting us run with videogames? This is Disney’s videogame or Disney’s animated videogame movie. That’s pretty cool’. So I would always approach it with wanting to make it the best it could be. And with the respect of what that meant, but not be daunted by it and be crushed by the questions of, ‘Is this living up to the legacy of Disney?’, because when you look at that long legacy it can be a little overwhelming! But I have to give a lot of credit to John Lasseter who took me aside very early on this film and he said, ‘Okay, I want one thing out of you. I want you to be yourself. I don’t want you to second-guess what a Disney movie should be, I don’t want you to try and make a quote-unquote Disney film. I want you here for what you bring to animation, not what you think a Disney movie should be’. And that was amazing marching orders to be given at the beginning of this, because it is possible, I think, for an animator and a director to look at that, starting from Snow White, you know, it’s a really impressive group of films, so having John say those words was monumental to me. And as to the 8-bit question, it was interesting at the beginning to work with the animators and kind of share that idea with them of, ‘Well I think the animation for these 8-bit people should be limited’, and that is not a note that Disney animators get that often. They’re used to trying to make the animation look as beautiful and realistic and full as it possibly can be, so to have a director say, ‘No, no, no, make it real simple, make it look a little limited and cheesy and jerky’, really, on their part, it was a real leap of faith for these guys. And I have to hand it to them that they entered into it saying, ‘Okay, well this kind of goes against my grain as an animator’, but as they kind of stuck with it, they started to see what it was that I was talking about and one by one people were kind of, ‘Oh! I see! It’s supposed to be like 8-bit animation, but fully realised and 3D!’ so light bulbs would kind of go off one by one with these people. But it really took them kind of taking a chance on an idea that they didn’t quite see at first.

To continue on the idea of this being Disney’s videogame – you’ve not only got these really rich original characters, you’ve got this whole host of real videogame characters, which for a videogame fan is a dream come true. How big a fan of videogames were both of you, and as a director, how difficult was it to narrow down your choice of cameos?

Rich Moore

You’d be surprised that in an animation studio there are a lot of fans of videogames, I know that seems strange…that’s a joke! I didn’t want to be the only one choosing characters from my past and what I’d like, so we put up a big board in our common area with a sign on it that said, ‘Who are your favourite characters, from childhood or from now?’ So we had a big pool of ideas and we went through, a group of us, and said, ‘We’ve got to have him, we’ve got to have her’. We had a really wide group to choose from, and it was studio-wide. My favourite era of games from that arcade time was like, Pacman, and Donkey Kong, where the characters were little cartoon characters. I like the old spaceships or asteroids, it was fun, but when the games became character based was when I was really hooked into them.

Sarah Silverman

We had an Atari, and there was an arcade. There was a game called Joust at our local Dairy Queen, I don’t know if you have Dairy Queen. I mastered it in between dipped cones.

Rich Moore

Joust was hard! That was a tough game.

Sarah Silverman

It’s finger speed, it’s like Centipede as well. I probably departed with videogames after Goldeneye on Nintendo 64. I loved it; I know every room, I know every nook and cranny of it. I didn’t really go beyond that.

The soundtrack sounds very diverse throughout the film. How did the collaboration with Henry Jackman come about, because it sounds a lot different from the stuff he’s done before.

Rich Moore

Tom MacDougall was our music supervisor at Disney, and he had worked with Henry on Winnie The Pooh, Henry did the music for it. And he said, ‘I’ve got the perfect guy for Wreck-It Ralph, it’s Henry Jackman, he just did Winnie The Pooh’, and I said, ‘Winnie The Pooh? We’re not looking for that type of score’, he said, ‘No no, he can do classic scoring, he can do contemporary, he can do anything, you’ve really got to meet him’. So I met with Henry to pitch the movie to him, and really enjoyed speaking to him right from the start. He said, ‘You know what, this is like a dream come true. The first paying job I had in music was writing music for old Commodore 64 video games, I still have the keyboards that I used to write those tunes. It was my first paying job, I was about fifteen or sixteen and my dad got me the gig’. And I was like, ‘You are perfect for this movie’. I loved collaborating with Henry. It was a real pleasure to meet with him, he has a little studio in Santa Monica and we’re in Burbank in Los Angeles. The times that I was working with Henry, our days at the studio were packed. You get to the studio, someone is guiding you from office to office, it’s a lot of different phases of the production and it was really busy. So I was so happy to go to Henry’s studio, because we’d sit down in his room and he’d play a little on the piano, and then he’d play back to the picture, and he always had, like, a candle burning in his room, it was so peaceful. We’d sit there and talk about what the music meant, and were we getting the right emotion and the right mood. We just spoke a common language, it was fantastic. And at the end of every meeting, it’s like, ‘I want to work with you again’. I really liked him, and he was great at taking outside music – we have Skrillex in the film, and AKB48, and so much other contemporary music – he was great at layering that in, and never being precious with the score. He was a fantastic partner to collaborate with.

It says in the production notes that John [C. Reilly] would physically act out certain scenes, I just wondered if there were any of your scenes that you physically acted out?

Sarah Silverman

When John had to make noises – sometimes you have to make noises like, ‘You’re running!’ and it’s so awkward but he was so great at it – and he would do all the motions. We are acting and using our whole bodies the way anyone else would, and they’re extracting our voices from it. And there are cameras on us, for the animators to use as reference for our expressions and our movements. Just like if you’re talking on the phone, you’re not only using your voice, you’re walking around, you’re pacing, you’re moving – it’s just natural. He was very animated.

Rich Moore

I remember the scene with Ralph breaking the cart. John’s vocal kind of ended early in the scene, the scene was Sarah watching Ralph break the cart. John wouldn’t just finish the scene and then just hang out, he would act out breaking the cart to give Sarah something to act off vocally. And there was just take after take that was so good, they just kept getting better and better. And it was the fact that you had something to play off of, I don’t think it would ever have been as strong as what we were doing in that room. I would watch it and you guys would really get your whole bodies into it.

Sarah Silverman

Yeah, he’s such a beautiful actor and he’s so generous. It was nice to be able to have that.

Rich Moore

He wouldn’t go, ‘Okay, my part’s done, you go ahead’.

Sarah Silverman

No, I did that…

You’ve got Wreck-It Ralph and Turbo and so on in this film, who have been the bad guys in your own lives?

Sarah Silverman

It’s a great question, but if you think it through it’s going to go to a very dark place…oddly enough for me it was also Turbo.

Rich Moore

I had very nice teachers, some that were kind of checked out but not bad.

Sarah Silverman

I had a therapist that hung himself, but I don’t think he was a ‘bad guy’. It was before cellphones, I had to wait for the hour to finish for my mum to pick me up. It’s true!

Rich Moore

Wait, he hung himself when you were in a session?

Sarah Silverman

No, he had already done it, but my mum dropped me off…it’s a long story.

How did you get into the mindset of a little girl like that, and playing the part of such a cute little girl, did it make you feel at all broody?

Sarah Silverman

I did feel very close to this character, I related to her very much. I felt like she was some convergence of my un-dealt-with inner child, and the child I also completely forgot to have. 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’s obnoxious and tough, is protecting this soft and very sensitive inner core. Is that a good answer? I’m baby crazy and I love kids, but I just feel…not ready. And I know I’m old, but I still don’t feel ready, I want to do it when it’s all I want. But I’ll adopt.

Rich Moore

All of us that know Sarah know that if she’s kind of in a funk, all you need to do is get a baby.

Sarah Silverman

They’re so tiny!

Rich, 3D cinema’s had a rocky ride. Where did you stand on it originally, and has it changed now you’ve made 3D cinema?

Rich Moore

Well, I was someone that wasn’t too keen on 3D, especially the converted live action films. It wasn’t something that really appealed to me that much. In preparing to make this film I knew the question would come up, and it just seemed like if not this film, what film would be as perfect for 3D? So very early on, I decided this was going to be 3D, and we’re going to embrace this technology. In our process, it happens at the very end, when you start to work on separating the levels and doing the 3D work. But instead, I wanted to meet with them early and talk to them about what helps make 3D good, about what I could do throughout the process to make it easier, and give them material that was taking the best advantage of 3D. And I came to really enjoy working with this group of people, it kind of blew me away the things that they could do with the technology. This group in particular has kind of cracked the technology, and they’re more about the artistry of it now, and using the stereoscopic 3D in supporting the story and the emotion of the film. And by the end, I look at the film and I really think the 3D version is the definitive version of the movie. They really changed my mind, that when done right, this art can be elevated by using this technology. I really enjoyed working with it.

Sarah Silverman

I don’t like the idea of the plastic glasses getting reused. It’s gross. It’s like putting bowling shoes on your face.

Rich Moore

If there was some way you could do it without the glasses it would be amazing. They say that’s about five or ten years off. But the fact that they even say that it could happen, you know, is really exciting.

Something to say?