An Interview With Jack McBrayer From Wreck-It Ralph
Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the “good guy” star of their game who always gets to save the day. But after decades spent doing the same thing and seeing all the glory go to Felix, Ralph decides he’s tired of playing the role of a bad guy. He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.
With the movie about to be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital, we chat with Jack McBrayer – who provides the voice of Fix-It Felix, Jr. in the movie – to find out more…
How did you get involved with Wreck-It Ralph?
The producers of the movie had a script that they wanted to present to Disney, so they decided to have a table read to hear how everything was going to sound. I was on the roster of people to read the script at the table read, and it was so much fun. From there, it just grew and grew. Once I realized that I was going to be able to play the role of Felix, I was very excited.
What do you like about Felix?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, we have a lot in common. Felix is a do-gooder and he is very eager to please. He loves to be good at his job and he loves to be appreciated for it. I think there’s a lot of Jack McBrayer in that.
What do you think of the look of Felix?
I was very pleased with the look of the character. They could have gone in many different directions, but I was very okay with what they chose. I think they definitely captured my bangs, my goofy grin and my strong jaw-line!
Did Felix always look like this?
He has definitely evolved, to some extent. They would videotape us when we recorded our lines, so I think they used those videos as inspiration for how Felix would look. I think they also used the videos as inspiration for how he moves and his facial expressions.
How would you describe your experience in the sound booth?
It was super fun in the sound booth. A lot of it is just you and a microphone in there, along with the director – but my favorite sessions were when we were able to join up with some of the other cast members. I had a couple of sessions with Jane Lynch where we got to act together in the same room, as well as a couple of sessions with John C. Reilly. For me, those sessions were especially fun because you got to play off each other’s energy. I think it really elevates your performance and your excitement when you’re working alongside the other actors.
How much time was there for improvisation in the sound booth?
They were very generous to allow us to improvise in the sound booth, but I have to be honest; the writing was so solid in the first place that improvisation wasn’t needed. I loved playing around with Jane [Lynch] and John [C. Reilly], but it felt more like banter with an old friend. If any of the improvisations made it into the movie, that was a real treat – but it didn’t hurt my feelings if they didn’t because I was very confident in the script.
Wreck-It Ralph is set within the colorful world of video games. What do video games mean to you?
Video games definitely hold a place in my childhood memories. When I was very young, I had an Atari 2600 system, which is pretty old school. We had Pac-Man, we had Frogger, we had Pitfall and we had BurgerTime. I loved it.
What about arcades?
Arcades specifically hold a place in my heart because we always got to go to the arcade on report card day. There was an arcade called the Super Scooper and they would give you three tokens for every A and two tokens for every B on your report card. That was always a very special treat and it was definitely an incentive to do well in school.
What were you like in school?
I was a very good student. I was very well behaved.
Did you always want to be an actor when you were younger?
Acting was a dream that really didn’t seem attainable when I was at school. I grew up in Macon, Georgia, and both of my parents were teachers. I guessed that I was going to be a teacher, or if I was really thinking outside the box, a businessman. But I did plays in high school and that’s where the performance bug really got me.
When did you decide to pursue acting as a career?
It wasn’t until after college that I really decided to focus on acting. After college, I moved to Chicago and that’s where I discovered a comedy theater called Second City. That’s where I really started focusing and realizing my dreams. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, this is how some people make a career. I would love to give it a shot. I would love to take a risk and see how I fair.’
What advice would you give to people who want to get into the entertainment industry?
You need a lot of patience in this industry. You need patience with yourself and patience with the circumstances. Not every person is able to move to Los Angeles and become a star. For me, just to be able to support myself as an actor was a short decade in the making. With that being said, I had fun every step of the way and I was able to be creative along the way. I have absolutely no regrets.
One of the themes of Wreck-It Ralph is about becoming a hero. What does a hero mean to you?
A hero is someone who has a passion and feels very strongly about something – and they do whatever they can to make that thing happen. Maybe it’s a teacher who is determined to make sure all of her students get into college or a parent who makes sure that their children are eating well. It can be on any level; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a war hero or someone who’s changing the world. I like to think that everyone has the potential to be a hero.
Who is your biggest hero?
I have so many heroes. I have my comedy heroes, including Don Knotts and Tim Conway. Then there’s Tina Fey, who is a little closer to home. She is definitely a hero because she is someone who also started at Second City and has built essentially an empire for herself. She’s been so generous to include some people that she’s worked with before, myself included.
What other heroes do you have in your life?
My parents are also my heroes because they instilled within me a good work ethic and the importance of being yourself. I would like to think that I hold those values and I would like to think that someday I could inspire someone else to do the same.
Are you a fan of the extras that come along with Blu-rays and DVDs?
Of course! With animation especially, you sometimes forget that there is an army of people that make it happen. My contribution is just a piece of sand in the larger scheme of things. It’s miniscule compared to all the work that so many of these people have done with their specialized talents. I think it’s really amazing.
The movie is hilarious, but what makes you laugh out loud?
A lot of things in this movie make me laugh out loud, but I’m also a sucker for giggling. If anybody’s got a case of the giggles, then I’ll start giggling too. Whenever I’m feeling a little down and in need of a chuckle, I go online and I look at news bloopers and outtakes. They get me every time.