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Actress Sarah Silverman says her character Vanellope Van Schweetz still has humor and spunk as a Disney girl, and she's "truly honored to be that girl."
When Wreck-It Ralph, the villain in the video game Fix-It Felix Jr., sets out to prove that he can be a good guy, he jumps from his own game world into a cart racing game called Sugar Rush, where he befriends Vanellope von Schweetz. When a deadly enemy threatens the entire arcade, and Vanellope, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) finally gets the chance to make himself into a hero. Sarah Silverman voices Von Schweetz, Ralph’s first-ever friend. She chatted with us about her role at a recent press junket.
Where did you find that wonderful feisty little kid voice? Is that you as a kid?
It just came to me. There was very little searching for that voice. It happened in a minute! The Vanellope Von Schweetz character is so scrappy I just sped up my voice and made it sound almost like she had a permanent cold.
What was your favorite part about playing Vanellope Von Schweetz?
I think her strength, perseverance and her scrappiness. In the beginning she’s obnoxious, she’s precocious and tough. But like any tough kid, she’s tough because she’s protecting this scared, rejected little girl who just wants to play with everyone else. She’s coping and surviving.
Did your character evolve? She looks like you.
She had red hair in the beginning. Disney takes so much time. That’s why they are so amazing. They hone and redo things, re-sketching, rewriting until every moment is so layered and rich. As the sketches came in, each time they came in, I saw her eyebrows, and then her black little ponytail. It was really cool. They put her in a hoodie! I loved her upside-down Reese’s buttercup skirt. I do think candy is poison and I don’t think it’s healthy for kids, but I do love it!
Are you a gamer? Did you have to research video games to prepare for your role?
I didn’t do any research in terms of video games because they’re not playing games, they are within them. I probably got the deepest into Nintendo 64. Especially 007 Golden Eye, I know every room! I know the bathrooms. I know where the guns are hidden. I love it! I actually found a Nintendo 64. I have it now. I put the word out on Twitter and somebody in my neighborhood had one. I looked at his Twitter profile and thought, “He doesn’t look like he’s going to murder me!” He came over and played with us. Then he left the Nintendo 64 and let me have it.
There’s an arcade by the house I grew up in New Hampshire called Space Center. Inside they had a Dairy Queen and a game called Joust that I mastered between dipped cones. You remember Joust? It was hard! It’s this really weird, long awkward bird that you’ve never seen. It has tiny wings so how can it fly?
What was it like for you to work with John C. Reilly?
Awesome! We got to record together, which is unique. We were able to look at each other, improvise, talk over each other. They need every line clean, but to be able to overlap and digress and improvise and go in a completely bizarre direction I think helped. What they took from our sessions gave the dynamic between us a subtle nuance that you wouldn’t get if we were in a booth recording alone.
What kind of relationship do you think Ralph and Vanellope have?
I think of it as family. They are both loners, and we find our own family as adults. They found family in each other.
What’s next for you?
I have an app [scheduled to be] out at the end of October that I’ve been working on for a year that’s for infants and toddlers. I think it’s going to be called Uncle Sarah! (laughs) What you don’t know about me is that I have a whole other world of material for kids! I thought I could make an app and I could baby sit kids on their iPads! There’s a song in it and there’s lots of interactive stuff. I think it’s really cool!
I’m also working on a special. It’s my first special in seven years. I’ve changed so much comedically. I forgot to make a special! I’ll do that for HBO probably in the spring.
Do you think Venelope is the new trend of princess? She is a Disney princess, so you are a Disney princess in a way. Venelope does take off the princess dress in this movie ....
That wasn’t in the original script. When I saw that change I was choked up and so happy. I think Brave was the first Disney Pixar movie that had a girl hero that wasn’t saved by a boy. I feel like this is the next step, where Venelope rejects the norms. “I’m going to be me!” She still has humor and spunk as a Disney girl. I’m truly honored to be that girl.
Wreck-It Ralph, rated PG, is in theaters now. Click here to read our interview with John C. Reilly!
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