/Film Interview: Rich Moore, Director Of ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ Talks Sequels, Cameos, and a Game Deleted From the Film
Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Hopefully the release of the latest trailer for Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph has left you looking for more information, because we’re happy to oblige. Earlier this summer, /Film was invited to Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA to talk about the November 2 release and we learned a lot. 50 things, to be exact. Many of those came from a one-on-one interview with Rich Moore, the director of the film.
You may not know Moore by name or sight, but you know his work. He was the director of some of the most famous episodes of The Simpsons, such as: Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie, The Telltale Head, Flaming Moe’s, and Marge vs. The Monorail. Wreck-It Ralph is his feature debut and in our interview he revealed tons of info on the video game-influenced film.
For example, was the candy-filled game Sugar Rush a way to balance the inclusion of stereotypically male video games? How did the Disney/Pixar brain trust influence the story? Why are some major video game characters noticeably absent from the film? What character might help direct the plot of a potential sequel and what exactly was Extreme Easy Living 2, a game created for – but cut from – the movie? Read about all that and more after the jump.
/Film: First off, ever since D23, when we first saw footage, we’ve all been so excited, both as video game fans and as movie fans. Video games are stereotypically male centric and I found out today that half of the movie takes place in Sugar Rush. Was that a way to try and balance that?
Rich Moore: Well it wasn’t an attempt to balance it, it was just kind of a lot of the bulk of Ralph’s story arc takes place with Penelope, you know? And being a glitch there is a conceit in the story that glitches can’t leave their games, that she’s kind of locked in that one game and she can’t leave it. So it kind of become a necessity that he stay there in Sugar Rush, but then we thought “Well, it can’t all just be candy and go-carts for the second act” and so we introduced Calhous into that world. We introduced the cy-bugs to that world and hopefully anyone who has this feeling of “Ugh, we’re going to be in Sugar Rush and there’s not going to be any action or anything like that,” I don’t think by the end of the movie that they will be feeling that way, you know?
Because we said “Well it should be akin to a little brother going to his bigger sister’s Barbie Dream House and ripping it apart,” like releasing the alien from ALIENS in Disney Land. We wanted that kind of… where it’s like “Wow, look at this beautiful world” and then we kind of rip it apart.
So hopefully no one will come away like “I feel ripped off!”
No. I also learned today that the actors did a lot of the voice work together and did some improv and stuff.
How early did that begin to affect the script? I know that has to be set before you really get into animation and things like that.
Well the script was constantly evolving. The saying goes here of like “We make the movie by remaking the movie.” What we do is over the course of about two years we have seven screenings of the film in different forms of completion, it’s always with storyboards. So what we do is we record the dialogue, a lot of times in the beginning it’s temp dialogue, just scratch, it’s not the real actors… And then we have temp music and we put a cut together where it’s all just animatic form and then we watch it or we work on that for about twelve weeks, you know we get it up and onto the screen, watch it with myself and the other directors here and John [Lasseter] and other colleagues. Some times we take it up to Pixar and we watch it together and then when we get together in this room and everyone sits down and goes “That was great, really good. Okay, here’s what’s not working.” (Laughs) So it’s about ten seconds of “Good job… Funny…” then two hours of kind of taking it apart and then we start the process all over again.
So the script never really like “locks” locks. We are working on the script and story… I mean we didn’t lock the story until May or June. We are always trying to improve and there’s still little things that’s like “Maybe we could get a different reading on that that would land it just a little bit better.” So this thing is always kind of evolving and so there weren’t restrictions of “We’ve got to get he pages locked now!” to work with the actors, so they had to know exactly “It’s got to be like this!” I like to go in with the pages and with the intent of the scene with the actors and then we record it as it’s written on the page a few times and then we play with that and then now that we know what the scene is about, we then kind of go off the page a little bit and explore it in different words and get everyone’s input. It’s like we got a great little, like John C. Reilly calls it our “comedy democracy.” It’s like myself and Phil Johnston, the writer, and our head of story, Jim Reardon and Sarah [Silverman] and John and we will kind of record it and then go “What do you think?” “Well we could make it better this way.” So these are the best in the world kind of honing this thing, so it’s a great democracy.
The cameos are one of the things that initially got me excited and have gotten a lot of fans excited too. And I know at Comic-Con you suggested that Mario and Luigi were not in the film. But you do have Nintendo characters, such as Bowser. What was it it about Nintendo and your dealings with them that they decided to hold those characters and others like Link or Samus…
I think to them that those are like their Mickey Mouse and I don’t know that they are, like Clark [Spencer, producer] said, if they are legally kind of bound by another project that they are working on or something… I don’t know if they were like “No, we don’t want them in there. We are against them being in it/” I just think that there are other things they are doing with them that made it difficult or impossible to get them in there and maybe it will be a situation like Barbie not being in the original TOY STORY and then maybe after they see it, if all goes well, they will say “If you’re doing a sequel, we would like to have these guys in it,” which we would love to have.
That brings me onto another question that’s pretty obvious. You mentioned the character Fix A Felix Sr. [Note: The game in the film is called Fix-It Felix Jr, with that character voiced by Jack McBrayer.] He might be a good place to go with a sequel and Disney loves franchises. When you’re building a world like this, which is obviously almost infinite with the arcade, how early in the process do you sort of think “Maybe we will save that” or “this might be that?” How early does that happen?
I’m never really thinking like “Oh, this will be good for the sequel,” but we definitely while going through that process that I described of remaking this, there are a ton of ideas that come up that are good, that are in and of themselves really good. There was like a whole other world…
“Easy Living 2…”
“Easy Living 2” that we wanted Ralph to go to that we were not able to use, because it was just too much. So we are just sort of keeping it on the side and it’s like we would love to use that again, but we never said like “Okay, that’s for the sequel.” It just goes on to the side and then as it starts to come up like “what are we going to do?” “Well, there’s Easy Living 2… Extreme Easy Living 2 was a good idea…”
What was Extreme Easy Living 2?
Oh it was like a world… (Laughs) Totally inappropriate for an arcade, because there would never be a game like this in an arcade, but it was like a cross between The Sims and Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row where it was this very debauched just lawless kind of world, a social gaming world where people were blowing things up and it’s just what you would see in that type of world where it all took place in a place that looked like Miami Beach or something and it was where Ralph kind of hit his lowest of the low points where he kind of went to die basically. You get the feeling like if he hung around there much longer he was going to die of alcohol poisoning or something. (Laughs)
Just a hole in the soul place, you know?