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The first time I remember seeing John C. Reilly was in Brian De Palma's film "Casualties Of War," and right away, he seemed fully defined. That's a movie full of big performances, with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox going head to head, and even so, Reilly stood out as Hatch, a giant man-child who seemed to follow whoever was the biggest alpha male regardless of the direction of his own moral compass. It was a great introduction to the particular skill set of this actor, and in the years since, he has re-confirmed his gifts over and over again.
One of my favorite moments in his career was when he suddenly revealed, after breaking hearts for so many years, that he is also hilarious. I should have known that innately, though. You look at his work in "Boogie Nights," which is as crushingly sad a film as I can name, and it's tempered with some great comedy, especially between him and Mark Walhberg.
Being the lead character in a Walt Disney Feature Animation film is a whole new frontier, though, one that actors have to see as some sort of milestone. After all, Disney animated movies are iconic in a very specific way, timeless, and once you do one, you are part of a legacy. I know that on the press day, when I went to talk to him as well as some of his co-stars, my kids were completely pumped to meet him, and that's not because of "Cyrus" or "Magnolia." It's an audience that doesn't know his work in "Talladega Nights" or his bizarre work with Tim and Eric. And based on this weekend, I'd say Wreck-It Ralph is going to take his place as one of the characters that Disney fans embrace not just now but over time.
I've spoken with him before, but this had to be one of the most at-ease and enjoyable conversations we've had, due in large part to what I'm sure is a sense of satisfaction at the finished piece of work.
I'm curious for those of you who took the family this weekend… what did you think of the film? I was a fan.
"Wreck-It Ralph" is in theaters now.