Being somewhat of a real-life cartoon character himself and having a distinctive voice, John C. Reilly seems like he is a perfect fit for an animated film. That’s why it’s so surprising that Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is Reilly’s first lead role in an animated film, but also that Reilly tells Moviefone that he generally would prefer not to work in animation. So what type of films does Reilly want to do? He talks about how he ended up agreeing to do Wreck-It Ralph and what genre he’d like to do in the future.
Curiously, Reilly ended up taking the lead role in Wreck-It Ralph after telling director Rich Moore why he’d rather not do an animated movie. He reveals, “I told him all the reasons that I didn’t want to do it: That animation was boring for actors, that you just stand in a room by yourself and they don’t even give you the whole script, you have to just kind of be a trained chimp or a marionette. Rich was like, ‘You know what, you’re right. That is the way most animated movies are made. But we can make this movie however we want to make it and if you want to improvise, it’s fine with me. If you want the other actors in the room with you so you have someone to react off of and riff with, that’s fine. We’ll do it that way. If you want to come to story meetings, or you want to meet with the animators…’ So he really included me in the whole process, which I think is fairly rare for actors in animation, and as a result, it ended up being something I’m really proud of. They put a lot of heart in the character and he ended up resembling me in a lot of ways… it became written just for me in the process of all of us working this way. I tailor-made myself into Ralph and Ralph was tailor-made for me.”
As was revealed in a prior interview with Reilly, he insisted on recording his dialogue with his co-stars — something rare for animation. He gives a look into this process, adding, “Every time I did any kind of interactive dialogue, there was always someone there. And that really lent itself to the scenes, because Sarah [Silverman] and I, that opening scene where we first meet each other in the tree, a lot of that scene was improvised. It was just Sarah and I playing with each other. And then the scene where I kind of have to break her heart in order to save her, I don’t know if that would have been as powerful if we weren’t there, right across from each other. I think that lent a lot.”
As for his future projects, Reilly admits that he misses doing musical films (he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Chicago and also sang in Walk Hard and A Prairie Home Companion), confessing, “I feel like I was born to do musicals. I wish there more movie musicals being made.” As for his dream musical roles, Reilly points to two, “I love the music of Sweeney Todd. I know it’s been done a lot and there’s already a movie of it, but that’s the part that I would love to play someday. Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls is another one. That’s sort of like the Holy Grail, that one.”