BOXOFFICE caught up with The Office's Rainn Wilson to discuss his role as the evil Gallaxhar in Monsters vs. Aliens.

Voicing The Villain

on January 30, 2009 by Amy Nicholson
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You play an evil alien -- what does it take to be truly evil?

Megalomania helps.

How do you express that in a character’s voice?

I think these characters love to hear the sound of their own voice – that’s a starting point.

How did you put that into action as Gallaxhar?

I don’t know, I just played around. When I started the process, the voice was goofier and more comic. And then we realized over the sessions and as they were putting the character together that he needed to be a really evil villain – he really needed to be a worthy adversary and be kind of actually scary. He is ridiculous, but he needs to be a real threat or else the movie doesn’t work.

Did you draw on anything from Dwight to bring that element of a potential threat to Gallaxhar?

No, I didn’t draw on a paper salesman to create an evil alien dark warlord.

But one thing that draws them together, though, is that you’re playing a character who’s funny to everyone but himself.

I just think that’s where a lot of great comedy comes from. It’s very rare that someone is able to play a character and know that they’re funny and also get laughs. That ironic detachment – it’s kind of like a Jerry Seinfeld thing. But that dangerous comedy comes from characters that don’t know they’re funny. That’s what makes me laugh the most at least.

Speaking of characters who are like that, why do we laugh at characters who are seeking perfection?

I think it’s the human struggle. It makes it relatable. If the stakes are high for a character, and they’re really pursuing something – they’re pursuing their dreams with a whole-hearted vigor – we can relate to that and get behind it, and then when it screws up, it can be funny.

Do you think there’s life on other planets?

Absolutely.

Why does it always hate us?

I think it hates us in movies and in science fiction because that’s the stuff of drama. And if you went the other way and they didn’t hate us, then it would be boring.

How do you think Barack Obama would react, compared to Stephen Colbert (who plays The President of the United States in the film), if aliens landed on the planet right now?

I think Barack Obama would want to hold hands and have a roundtable discussion. Maybe a healing song fest.

I hope he gets a better poet.

I actually liked that poem – but I didn’t like the way she read it. I think if you saw the poem on the page, you’d be like, ‘Oh, this is pretty cool what she’s doing.’ But she read it and people were falling asleep out there and it was 28 degrees in Washington that day.

That might be the hypothermia taking set. If you and Stephen Colbert fought in real life, who do you think would win?

I would destroy him. I would absolutely destroy him. First of all, I’m yellow belt in Shorin-ryu karate. I got that when I was nineteen-years-old. So for twenty-plus years, I have carried with me the knowledge of a Shorin-ryu karate yellow belt. That’s just a starting place.

I heard he was really good with a crossbow…

Well, yeah, crossbows are fine. But not when you have a shield and morning star.

What’s it like to hear your voice coming out of a cartoon?

It’s pretty crazy. Sometimes the TV will just be on and a promo will play and I’ll just be like, ‘Whoa! My voice!’ A weird version of my voice.

Does it frighten your wife?

No. My son loves it. He loves the evil voice – he wants to hear it all the time.

Does he listen to you more when you speak to him that way? Do your threats carry more weight?

That’s an excellent idea. I haven’t tried it yet, but that’s an excellent idea. I should make it when he’s getting ready for school [adopts Gallaxher’s voice] ‘You must get ready for schooool now!’ Maybe he’ll hop to it a little faster.

If you could be any other film character for a day, who would you be?

I think I’d be Randy ‘The Ram’ from The Wrestler. I think it’d be fun to be a bad dad, hopped-up and on drugs with my heart failing. I think it’d be the stuff of legend.

Well, you never know what your kid might say about you in fifteen years – that’s a lot of time to make some screw-ups.

That’s true. I’m sure he’ll be in therapy. And talking about what a horrible dad I was.

At least you’ll have a great tan.

Yes, a great tan. And I can be ripped for a day. Weirdly ripped like Randy ‘The Ram’ was.

What would you spend that day doing, if you were ripped?

I’d ripple.

Fair enough. Were you ever a B-movie geek yourself?

Yeah, I grew up watching all those. The Blob. Then all the Godzilla movies. Johnny Socko and His Amazing Flying Robot.

Why do you think people still like them, and do we like them now for different reasons?

I think kids are just going to like the crazy action and adventure, and I think the parents are just going to remember growing up on all those old alien invasion movies and monster movies. It’s going to bring back that nostalgia. I just recently went into Starbucks and they’re playing a song by Squeeze and I’m like, ‘Aw! I love this song!’ And then I was like, ‘Oh, I’m really in another generation,’ because when my parents would hear a Richie Valens song on the radio, they’d say, ‘Aw! I love that Richie Valens song!’ For me it was Squeeze.

Which Squeeze song was it?

You know, Squeeze had like ten hits in the ‘80s. Um…now I’m blanking…

Oh no! I thought you were Squeeze’s number one fan!

“Black Coffee in Bed,” is one. God, there’s so many. [singing] ‘Tempted by the fruit of another….’

Oh! Yeah, Squeeze. Now I’m with you. I’ve been into them from back in the day, have all their b-sides. I’m completely lying. What’s a guilty pleasure movie you’re embarrassed to love?

Benjamin Button. I was watching Benjamin Button and I was like, ‘I know this is really schlocky, but it’s also really cool.’ Sometimes you want to go to a movie and just escape into a strange, mythical tale. You want to go on a strange, mythic journey. And that’s kind of what it was. Like Odysseus.

Why do you think no one’s ever shot a good adaptation of The Odyssey ?

Have they not been able to do a good film of The Odyssey ? How about Jason and the Argonauts ? From the ‘50s? Speaking of B-movies, that was a great one.

That’s a great B-movie. All the Ray Harryhausen animation.

Harryhausen and all the skeletons and that s---.

It stole Scylla and Charybdis from The Odyssey, but it’s like if you did a biopic of Nicole Ritchie. You might kind of include Lindsay Lohan, but it wouldn’t really be there. I’m sorry, that’s the very first thing I could think of. So, what’s next for you?

Well, I’m very excited to say that The Rocker has finally come out on DVD. And since about twenty-seven people paid to see it in the theatre, now a lot more people will get to see what I think is a really fun and heartfelt comedy. So that’s good. I have a small part in Transformers 2. That’s coming out god knows when. And finishing up another ten more episodes of season five of The Office.

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