John C. Reilly proud of Disney’s stereotype-breaking princess scene
Disney has princess problems, but “Ralph Breaks the Internet” ain’t one. At least not according to actor John C. Reilly, who plays the titular hulking hero in the animated film.
Reilly recently commended the studio for addressing — if not correcting — female stereotypes the studio perpetuated for decades.
“It couldn’t be more timely than right now in terms of women finding their voices and wanting to be heard and feeling like the stereotypes that the world applies to women are unfair,” Reilly said in a recent interview with IGN.
In a memorable scene, Ralph’s partner Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) reluctantly encounters a throng of Disney’s iconic royals, who try to size her up according to their standards.
“Do people assume all your problems got solved because a big strong man showed up?” Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) asks Vanellope, getting meta and self-aware all in one scene.
“We are satirizing sort of the crown jewel ... ,” co-director Phil Johnston recently told The Times. “But they loved it. They were like, ‘Keep going, go farther.’”
Co-director Rich Moore added that Disney executives responded positively to the satire: “They said, ‘Everyone else has fun at our expense.
Why can’t we?’ It’s almost like we could do the best satire of our characters because we know them so well.”
As for Reilly, he thought it was “a really cool, brave, forward-thinking thing for the company to do.”
“To take responsibility for some of these stereotypes that they created — some of these unattainable female stereotypes — and look at them head on and say like, ‘OK, maybe it was unfair to make people feel like they had to have a waistline that’s 17 inches or something,” he said.
Recurring fairy-tale tropes involving unattainable beauty, romance, consent and paternalism have been contentious for years. However, the studio has been moving away from them with more recent, female-led films such as “Brave,” “Frozen” and “Moana.”
Still, the company faced a backlash in 2015 for Lily James’ tiny waistline in the live-action “Cinderella,” a controversy that prompted self-proclaimed feminist Emma Watson’s refusal to wear a corset in the 2017 “Beauty and the Beast” liveaction film.
Even “Ralph Breaks the Internet” wasn’t without controversy.
Earlier this year, the studio was accused of white-washing “The Princess and the Frog’s” Tiana in a trailer teasing Vanellope’s princess scene. After racial justice groups and Anika Noni Rose, the actress who voiced Tiana, protested the character’s depiction, Disney and Pixar animators went back to the drawing board to recast the African American princess.
Vanellope von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman (foreground center), posing for s selfie with Disney princesses in ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet.’