Exclusive: Taraji P. Henson Talks Voicing Yesss In Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2Posted by Wilson Morales
September 20, 2018
Coming on this week from Walt Disney Animation Studios is Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, with the voice of John C. Reily, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson and Gal Gadot.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the netizens—to help navigate their way, including a webite entrepreneur named Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces—so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had.
Directed by Rich Moore (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph) and Phil Johnston (co-writer Wreck-It Ralph, Cedar Rapids, co-writer Zootopia), and produced by Clark Spencer, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-Ralph 2 has a cast that includes all the Disney Princesses including Auli‘i Cravalho (Moana), Kristen Bell (Anna in Frozen), Kelly Macdonald (Merida in Brave), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in Tangled), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in The Princess and the Frog), Irene Bedard (Pocahontas), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in Aladdin), Paige O’Hara (Belle in Beauty and the Beast) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in The Little Mermaid).
For Henson, this is her biggest role she’s had in an animated film. She had previously voiced a character in the animated short Madly Madagascar as well as characters for the TV shows The Cleveland Show and The Simpsons. It’s also her third film she’s had released in 2018 following lead roles in Proud Mary and Acrimony. While promoting all of these projects, she continues to entertain her fans as Cookie Lyon in the hit Fox series Empire.
Blackfilm.com caught up with Henson recently where she exclusively talked about voicing Yesss in fun, loving animated film.
You’ve done animated film before, but was this the biggest role you’ve had so far?
Taraji P. Henson: Absolutely. I’ve never done a film, I’ve done animation for television, but never for film.
What’s the difference between doing this for film and then doing the TV work before?
Taraji P. Henson: I mean, the process is the same. It’s just going to be seen by more people.
How is when you’re in the booth?
Taraji P. Henson: You work longer. You work much longer on a film. We were working on this for an entire year.
Can you talk about this character, Yesss, how did the name came about and what’s the character about?
Taraji P. Henson: Well, Yesss is the head algorithm of this website called BuzzzTube, and they’re all about trend making, making videos go viral. Anything that is worthy of being seen, Yesss has seen it, and she is giving it to the world. She has an eye for things going viral. That’s her position. She’s also on the cutting edge of fashion, and she has a unique hairstyle. I think she is an animated Cookie. Because she’s definitely a businesswoman. Yesss, she’s a woman, that name is like, “I know what’s happening. Yesss, the yes factor.” She puts the cool in the Internet.
What attracted you to this project?
Taraji P. Henson: It’s a Disney film. It’s a Disney animated film, who doesn’t wanna be a part of that. I’m a huge animation girl. I grew up on cartoons and cereal Saturdays. I’m a character actress as well, but I do lot of voices. I’ve always wanted to do animation, and this was just perfect. I love John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, I think they’re incredible, and I love this story. I mean, we’re in a world of the Internet, we’re all about Internet, Instagram, social media, and this movie really breaks down how the Internet works, and I love it, in a real heartful way.
So you’re good on social media. There are millions of people who follow you. How savvy are you tech-wise?
Taraji P. Henson: Not very savvy. I do enough to get around, but you know, if something crashes I need to call someone. I can’t troubleshoot. I need someone to do that.
So when you’re in the booth, and you’re voicing the character, were you yourself, or did they want you to do anything different with your voice?
Taraji P. Henson: They wanted my voice, but you alter it a little bit. I didn’t sound exactly like me, because I have a certain twang to my talk. But, it does have to sound like me because people know my voice, I have very distinct voice, so I get it why they want it to sound like me. It wasn’t really a reason to change her voice. You know what I mean? It really wasn’t a reason to make her sound like it, unless I was playing a little girl, or an animal. It didn’t make sense. So yeah, I think they wanted my voice.
You mentioned earlier that the character’s in a way similar to Cookie, and obviously, when we see Yesss onscreen, she’s going through different changes, hairstyle, clothing. Was that you or was that part of the script?
Taraji P. Henson: That was already there. That was already there. I think me playing Cookie helped me get offered the role, because you have to think about it, the Internet is fast, it’s moving, it is fashion, it is what’s the hottest cutting edge trend. So she has to keep up with it all. I get it, it makes sense why fashion is important for her.
There’s a scene with all the princesses from the Disney films. How much of the princesses movies did you see growing up?
Taraji P. Henson: Well, I definitely saw Snow White. I saw Cinderella. I saw Sleeping Beauty and the Princess and the Frog. I saw the one that was around when I was coming up. Disney has had so many, see that’s what I love about that scene is it makes you remember, “Oh my God, that’s right.” That’s how many princesses there are. That was a very nostalgic moment and smart, very smart.
This is your third film this year that we’ve seen you on after Proud Mary and Acrimony. Is this the most amount of work you’ve done year-wise for films?
Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, absolutely, the most in my entire career.
What more can we expect from Cookie?
Taraji P. Henson: I really enjoy the storyline this year. We’re getting back to the family and the family struggle and that’s what the audience missed. They missed seeing the family together. It’s going to be a great season seeing how this family grows together.
How do you stay humble?
Taraji P. Henson: I have to be. I’m too old to change now. It is what it is at the end of the day.