Though John C. Reilly is probably best known for his comedy movies alongside Will Ferrell, he has received much of his acclaim (and an Oscar nomination) for his hard-hitting dramas like We Need to Talk about Kevin and Carnage. He takes a break from his recent dramatic films to return to comedy with Disney’s latest animated movie Wreck-It Ralph, for which he voices the title character.
He spoke to NPR about his different approach to comedy and drama and while he wanted to record his voice parts alongside his co-stars.
Reilly explains that his approach to each genre depends on being as honest with the material as he can. He says, “If you take a piece of material like We Need to Talk About Kevin and you play it really honestly, then it’s heartbreaking and disturbing. … I just try to be as truthful as I can, and if the circumstances are ridiculous, then you’re in a comedy, and if they’re more serious, then you’re in a drama.”
Unlike other animated films in which the dialogue is recorded separately by the film’s stars — sometimes in studios completely across the country — Reilly says he insisted on recording with his co-stars as much as possible, and he believes that helped his performance. He says, “With Sarah and I, it really paid off huge because so much of our relationship is this kind of bickering, big brother-little sister back and forth kind of one-upsmanship. I think you get a lot when you put people in the same room and they can actually look at each other when they’re communicating.”