Why Taraji P. Henson Made Big Changes To Her Ralph Breaks The Internet Character While Recording

Taraji P. Henson is Yesss

The following story contains mild spoilers for the plot of Ralph Breaks the Internet, so if you haven't yet seen Disney's animated sequel, tread lightly.

A lot of people headed to the theaters to see Ralph Breaks the Internet over the holiday weekend. They knew going in that they'd get more time with two beloved leads from the original. But with Ralph (John C. Reilly) entering into the Internet, we got to meet a lot of new characters, starting with the Queen of BuzzTube, Yesss.

Played by Taraji P. Henson, Yesss has to help Ralph become a viral sensation so he can make enough money to pay for Vanellope's missing game part, which they overbid for on eBay. When we spoke with Henson about the role, she explained why she helped change the part as they recorded. Henson told CinemaBlend:

I think, in the beginning, she read as a bit sort of... not mean, but a little cold, because she had to get it done. You know, it was all about the Internet, and sometimes the Internet can be a bit shallow. And I guess that's how she was coming off. The second time they had me go into the studio, they softened her up a bit. Because, you can't be a bully. We're teaching not to be a bully, and you're coming off as a bully, a little bit. A little bit of a mean girl. That's how it changed, and I'm glad we took the time to develop her more.

The way she stands now, Yesss is a sassy but knowledgeable character with her finger on the pulse of what's popping online. She tells it like it is, leveling with Ralph (John C. Reilly) that while his initial foray into viral video was a hit, nothing last for long on the Internet, and you have to adjust.

Which is exactly what the Ralph Breaks the Internet team did when the initial pass on Yesss was making her a little too aggressive. It's always interesting for us to find out how characters change over the lengthy production process on an animated feature, especially when bringing in a new actress like Taraji P. Henson was to this film.

Of course, Yesss isn't just up to speed on the viral videos that connect with viewers on the Internet. In a meaningful scene, Yesss teaches Ralph that the Comments section is a bad place to hang out, especially after Ralph reads a series of negative reactions to his videos.

Speaking about that scene, Taraji P. Henson told CinemaBlend:

That, for me, grounded the film. That moment. And it grounded her. It made her more compassionate.

Watch Taraji P. Henson discuss the work she did on Yesss during the production cycle:

Bringing new characters into the fold can be a challenge. Co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore already knew that audiences were crazy for the chemistry shared by Ralph and Vanellope. But they sidelined characters like Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) to give more time to new characters like Yesss and Shank (Gal Gadot), the skilled racer.

It paid off. Ralph Breaks the Internet broke the box office over the holiday weekend by posting a healthy $84.4 million for the five-day total. It's already a hit for the studio, and should continue to perform well... at least until Mary Poppins Returns rolls around to steal its family-ticket thunder.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.