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30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer on Wreck-It Ralph, Video Games, and His Accent

Jack McBrayer. Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

In the video-game movie Wreck-It Ralph, Jack McBrayer and John C. Reilly play rival characters in the Donkey Kong–esque “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” (which you can play here). McBrayer is the perpetual (and perpetually upbeat) fixer-upper Felix, who cleans up after Reilly’s wreckage. But once Ralph doesn’t want to wreck things anymore, what does that mean for Felix? McBrayer, who channels more than a bit of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock for the adorable Felix, chatted with Vulture about old-school video games, facing off against Bryan Cranston, and his accent.

Ralph jumps games in part because he wants to change his image. Do you ever feel that way about yours?
You know what’s funny, Ralph starts hating how he’s perceived, because he doesn’t feel appreciated for what he does, day in and day out, wrecking everything only for Felix to fix it, over and over again.

It’s like the myth of Sisyphus.
The what?

It’s a Greek myth where a guy has to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again. Roll up, roll down, repeat.
So what Ralph does is stop that cycle — take that, Sisyphus! But Felix was perfectly content, because he was appreciated. And I am more like Felix. I’ve been wearing the same Page uniform [on 30 Rock] and I’ve been okay so far.

At least you know you have a future beyond 30 Rock — you’re not completely out of a job. You’re not in panic mode.
[Laughs.] I’m not panicked, but at the same time, it’s like, Whoa! Time to save money like it’s a contest. You’ll have to pull the cash from my cold, dead hands! It is weird, like you, if you lost your job and you didn’t have anything else lined up? What would you do? Cut back, right? So I’m no longer eating. But honestly, when fun projects like this come along, sign me up. I love voice acting, and I never saw this coming. I never would have guessed that I would get a job for the way I sound. I would get notes about how I should lose my accent, and part of me thinks, How dare you! This is who I am! Millions of people want to sound like me! But it’s sensitive, and I have tried to change it, with little to no success. So I’m stubborn about keeping it, and I have a lack of ability to change it. So I’m happy and grateful when I get jobs that require me to talk Southern.

When you went to Chicago’s Wiener’s Circle and learned how to insult the customers, it seemed like you were trying to change your image a bit. Not always be the nice guy.
Oh, that was like sending a lamb to the slaughter for that one! [Laughs.] Sometimes you have to be okay with what you are to the world, where you are in the world, and make the most of it. That’s where I am right now. That’s what I bring to the table. And as long as people are interested in it, I’m good — until the day comes that I’m exhausted or people ain’t hiring. Then I might do some reflection on this. Until then, I’ll smile real big and talk real Southern. I’m a one-trick pony!

I’m sure you have some other tricks.
I think you’re overestimating my skills. [Laughs.]

Who plays the most games during 30 Rock downtime?
Tracy Morgan. For me, if I’m just killing time, I play solitaire. I’m also guilty of playing Snood. I like games where I can shoot balls and match colors. I do what I can. When I was a kid, I had an Atari 2600, and I would play Pac Man, Frogger, all that kind of stuff. And I did enjoy going to the arcade. When it was report card day, I would get three tokens for every A, and two tokens for every B, for the Super Scooper crane game. So I got to be very advanced at that, from making good grades. Oh heck, yeah. But I don’t know too many current games, except maybe Super Mario Bros. I don’t know how to do shoot-’em-up zombie games.

So if you could live in a game the way Felix does, which would you pick?
BurgerTime, because there’s food involved. And it feels like high stakes, but not like you have to like killing. Or Dig Dug. I enjoyed that one. Maybe Super Mario, but I kind of find it treacherous when the turtles come out.

Did you notice Bowser from Super Mario was in Bad-Anon, the villain support group?
Oh, darling, you are way out of my league! Is he the one who looks like a dragon? Oh, I’m just so terrible with this stuff! You know what would be a fun game? If Pac-Man was on a beach, and he was chomping coconuts. You could see how tan you could get your Pac-Man. I don’t know if he could really switch directions too much, because he would stay horizontal as you moved him down — he was old-school! But when I was a kid and didn’t know any better, I thought he was the best in the world.

This season on 30 Rock, Bryan Cranston came in to play your much despised stepfather Ron.
He is the best, and the scenes we did together, I was dying. I messed up a lot of takes, because I just kept laughing. I was laughing in their faces. And I was so starstruck. But I have to say, I’m not caught up on Breaking Bad. I have seasons one, two, and three on DVD, so I was mortified, because I didn’t want to ask any questions, but everyone else was coming up and asking questions, so I had to [puts fingers in his ears and starts singing] tra la la la la! Because all the crew was caught up, and I wasn’t. It was one of those things where I didn’t want to be spoiled any more than I am already, or make him realize that I didn’t know, so I kept all my questions sort of innocuous. “How do you like your Starbucks?” “So, where do you live?” Like Being a Person 101.

So what else happens to you this season?
We’re not done! For all I know, I die a horrible, violent death.

Will you be back on Arrested Development if the Bluths hit up the country club?
I’ve got my fingers crossed. I should get prepared, just in case there’s a movie. And if there is, sign me up!

You’re in Movie 43, developing a high-fidelity music player known as the iBabe.
I can’t believe that bit made it in! It’s a musical device that … [Hesitates.]

Is anatomically correct?

And guys are putting their penises in it?
Ta-da! Kate Bosworth is like, “Why is this even okay?” And the rest is nonsense. It was a fun day of shooting, because I got to be around naked girls and Richard Gere. Crazy.

Jack McBrayer on Wreck-It Ralph and 30 Rock