Entertainment » Movies

Jane Lynch Gets Animated

by Fred Topel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 1, 2012

Jane Lynch provides a voice in this week's Disney animated movie "Wreck-It Ralph," but as the election nears, she finds herself more and more in demand to endorse political causes. Lynch is always willing to go there, but she admitted she's becoming more selective, even as her ghost written e-mails go out to millions of voters.

"It's a political season, and everybody wants someone to stand up for their cause," Lynch said. "I've done a fair bit of that. In fact, you're probably getting a lot of, 'This is an email from Jane Lynch' in your Inbox. So I try to be discriminating about that, but it seems like there's a lot of me out there. Sometimes I regret that I jumped on some band wagon, even though I maybe support it, I want to be an actor first. I have to be very careful about it because you stop suspending disbelief, if you go, 'Oh, there's that gay activist trying to make us believe that she's married to that guy.'"

Not quiet about politics

It’s not that Lynch would rather be quiet about her politics. She was open about her allegiances after the second presidential debate. It’s more for her personal peace of mind, she’d rather hear less about the candidates.

"It’s just so partisan," Lynch said. "It’s just so awful. And everybody’s complaining about Candy Crowley (the CNN anchor that moderated the second Presidential debate) right now. Who cares? Just get it over with and let Obama be re-elected. The campaign’s just getting so ugly. I have to stop reading The Huffington Post is what I need to do."

One of the easier causes Lynch supports is the annual Race for the Rescues pet adoption 10K run. This year’s occurred on Oct. 7. "Well, that’s a worthwhile thing. That’s an easy thing. There are tons of organizations too. There’s PETA, and then there’s the smaller rescues, and you want to do it for everybody but I have a connection to that organization, so I do that every year. I love it. And you know they adopted every animal that came in. There were a lot of tears, some terrible stories behind why these dogs were orphaned. It’s all animal lovers. It’s a great day to see all those animals get adopted out."

Not on her bucket list

On "Glee," teenagers around the world became aware of Lynch as mean gym coach Sue Sylvester. The audience for "Wreck-It Ralph" is likely to be even younger than "Glee" fans, and having a featured role in a Disney film is something Lynch never imagined she’d have the opportunity to do.

"It wasn’t even on my bucket list. That’s how preposterous it was," she said. ’I was thrilled to (accept). I jumped at it. It’s a huge honor to be on a shelf with ’The Jungle Book’ and ’The Aristocats’ and ’Cinderella.’ Pretty cool stuff, and John Lasseter of course is heading up animation now, and he’s just the greatest guy in the world. When he asks you to do something, you say, ’yes.’"

"Wreck-It Ralph" is to video games what "Toy Story" is to toys. After all the kids leave the arcade, the characters from video games mingle. Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain in a Donkey Kong-inspired game called Fix-It Felix, Jr. He tries to become the hero of a modern day space marine game, Hero’s Duty, throwing the whole video game world into chaos. Lynch plays the voice of Hero’s Duty’s tragic star, Calhoun. We learn that Calhoun is a top soldier whose groom was killed by the evil Cy-bugs, the spider-like villains.

"It gave me a great backstory, her broken heart. She, of course, doesn’t see vulnerability as strength, and I think that is what she learns. That’s her journey: having your heart open is not a sign of weakness. She felt so guilty about allowing the Cy-Bugs to kill the love of her life, and she committed herself to the destruction of the Cy-Bugs to make it right. Then comes along this sweet, little open-eyed, open-faced guy (Nicelander hero Felix, voiced by Jack McBrayer), who is just so simple and so sweet."

Freaking hot

Calhoun is not only tough and badass, but she’s freaking hot too. The animation design of Calhoun caused quite a stir in the Lynch household.

"I kept saying in the movie, I’d lean over my wife (psychologist Lara Embry) and go, ’I look so good.’ [To which she replied,] ’Well, it’s animated.’

"Obviously, they replicated my own figure," she explained with deadpan irony. "But she’s much younger and much more fit and much more militaristic of course then I am, but I think they did use us. I had no input at all (into the design), but they videotaped us (the cast). And as I was watching the movie, I could see Sarah [Silverman] all over Vanellope and John all over Ralph and Jack [McBrayer] all over Felix."

Watching the film also made Lynch appreciate the message of the film she’d worked on for years in recording studios. Like all Disney heroes, Ralph learns something by trying to leave his home.

"I think it’s so beautiful, not just visually. The animation is great, but I think the message is so powerful."

Stuck in a game

In the film, Ralph, the bad guy in a 1980s-styled video game, wants out. In the game, he plays the 600-pound guy that tears down an apartment house inhabited by what are called the Nicelanders and their leader Felix. He escapes to another game, where he teams up with Calhoun to fight the cyber-bugs.

"You’re stuck in a game," Lynch explained, "doing the same job over and over again, and you’re not getting any appreciation. You finally go, ’to hell with this,’ and you leave and when you leave, everything falls apart. And when you come back, after your journey, they all appreciate you. Now you’re doing your job for the love of doing your job. I mean I just think it’s a great message."

Ralph also meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), an outcast in a go-kart racing game, who has a technical glitch. In case you’re taking the plot literally, Lynch revealed the metaphor of Vanellope’s glitch.

"We all feel we have a glitch. I think that’s kind of the success of ’Glee’ too. We all feel like we have a glitch in some way, and we’re kind of ashamed of it. You find somebody, and you look in their eyes, and you realize ’There’s nothing wrong with me. They totally support me.’"

In its fourth season, Lynch still watches "Glee" every night a new episode is on with her family. "Yeah, I watch ’Glee.’ My daughter loves it so it’s a big deal. It comes on Thursday now, right? Yeah, she loves watching it."

Her Sue-ness

Sue Sylvester remains an antagonist on ’Glee’ but she’s gotten to have many dimensions since the beginning. She never loses her Sue-ness, but Lynch has been gratified by the material she’s still receiving from the show’s writers.

"What I loved about [her is how] they (the writers) have allowed her to evolve. If I was just beating people up and throwing them into their lockers every week, it would get old. And they know how to use me so that a little bit of me goes a long way. [One] episode is pretty heavy Sue Sylvester, but then I’ll be light for the next three or four episodes. So they know how to use my character, and they also have allowed me to grow. I mean there are times when my character sounds so empathetic and reasonable, and then the next moment, she’s throwing somebody into the lockers."

If anything, we learn more and more about why Sue lashes out against those singing kids. "When they gave me the Down Syndrome sister in the first episode, I thought that was brilliant. It’s almost like the backstory for Sergeant Calhoun. They gave me a reason to be so mean. Why is she so mad?"

"Glee" still commands most of Lynch’s acting time, and she says she’s fulfilled by the roles she’s getting. The next step for Lynch might be behind the scenes. "I’ve been writing. I’m really enjoying that, and I hope that I’ll be able to bring it to television. I hope that I can sell what I’m writing, and I’ve been working on it. I work fast. I’m one of those people. I decided three weeks ago. My wife told me an idea, and I went, "Ah." And I kind of went into a cave and started working it out. So that’s kind of what I’m all about right now, and it’s great. I can do ’Glee’ and still be cooking away at something."

"Wreck-It Ralph" opens Friday. "Glee" airs on Fox on Thursday nights.

Watch the trailer to Wreck-It Ralph:


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