Big Hero 6: Thoughts From the Cast & Creators
By Mindy Marzec
Last month I had the great privilege to see a screening of “Big Hero 6” and attend a press junket with some of the film’s creators and voice actors. It was a fun afternoon at the Disney studios in Burbank, CA, and I want to thank Erin at Horsing Around in L.A. for the experience! My review of the film is coming up, but first I wanted to introduce you to some of the creative geniuses behind “Big Hero 6,” then be on the look out for the scoop on the short film that runs before it, called “Feast,” tomorrow!
First we got a little background about how the film was made from Don Hall (Director), Chris Williams (Director), and Roy Conli (Producer). They were asked about how the project came to be and how similar it is to the original Marvel comic of “Big Hero 6.”
Don: “The project came from my love of comic books. It was a dream project to take these things (Disney and comics) and combine them. We inquired about the project because I liked the title, found out it was a Japanese super hero team and then became more intrigued, then actually read the comics and got really intrigued. And so when we met with Marvel and said, ‘We want to do Big Hero 6,’ they loved it, they loved the idea we were going to do, and they said ‘don’t worry about setting it in the Marvel universe. Do your own thing. Use your own creative and create your own world.” So then we created San Fransokyo, because that’s what we do first, right off the bat, what’s the world we’re dealing with here? We love fantasy and we do fantasy very well, and so we wanted to create a fantasy world. That’s what led to this mash up of San Fransokyo. We wanted this world to not be super powered beings walking around, there’s a reality to this world. And then super technology became everybody’s super power. So a lot of these little decisions took us farther away from the comic book.”
What about criticism from Marvel fans?
Don: “One thing about our process is, no matter what story you think you’re going to tell when you start out, it is going to be something else by the end. That’s just the way it is. (Changing the story) was always going to be that way. I will say that Duncan Rouleau, who is one of the co-creators of the original comic, just saw (the film) and loved it.”
Next we got an opportunity to chat with Damon Wayans Jr. (“Wasabi”) and T.J. Miller (“Fred”).
Damon talked about how he had never done voice-over work before. T.J., on the other hand, has lent his voice to several movies and TV series (“How to Train Your Dragon” and “Gravity Falls” just to name a couple). When T.J. was asked if working with Disney on a major animated feature was any different than past voice-over jobs, he said, “I found that Disney was so open to, ‘oh, let’s make the storyline this, you riff that;’ it’s really a collaborative process. (Disney) would let you get absurd and say “yeah, try it and we might use it,” and in your mind you’re thinking this is unusable … and then you watch the movie and sure enough, it’s in there. (Disney gave us) the freedom to do anything you want, and they will sort of work with you for as long as you’re able to stand up. There are a lot of improvised lines in there.”
Both Damon and TJ admitted they cried when they saw the finished movie for the first time. TJ joked “I kept checking my mascara on my compact mirror.” He goes on to say, “(The movie) has got so much heart … it has got some sad stuff, but it’s mixed so well with the comedy and the action.”
Then we chatted with Scott Adsit (“Baymax”) and Ryan Potter (“Hiro”)
Basically these two are the lead voices in the film. When they were asked about their chemistry in the movie, they admitted they actually just met each other for the first time a couple weeks earlier. “But we feel a camaraderie and it’s a closeness that’s odd and unique to our business,” Scott said. “We feel like we’ve been working together for a year and a half. A friendship by proxy.”
Ryan spoke a little about what “Big Hero 6” means to him. “The film has a lot of really amazing messages. One is, family is not necessarily the one you’re born with, they are the ones you find and the ones you create. The message of being yourself is very important. I’m a very, what-you-see-is-what-you-get person. I don’t put on an act, and that’s what these characters do, too. They are so proud to be themselves and they don’t apologize for who they are, and I think that’s going to be really good for kids to see.
Scott and Ryan recreating their characters’ signature fist bump from the movie.
As far as the film’s “nerdy” plot, based around science and making things, Ryan says, “I grew up with anime, I am an anime nerd.” Scott added, “I prefer geek.”
When asked about how he channeled the voice of Baymax, Scott said, “I went in with the idea that (Baymax) had to be very benign because he’s a caregiver and non-threatening, and also user friendly, so the first thing I thought of was automated phone systems and the fact that they are friendly but there’s something a little off with them.”
Scott said he is still kind of in shock he’s the voice of a character in a Disney movie. “It’s the ultimate job, I think. There’s a great joy that you associate with this. I hate to just go on and on, like Pollyanna about (Disney), but I have never had such a pleasant working environment. Everyone I’ve met here loves their job and they can’t wait to do it some more, and they want to stay longer. And that creates such a great place to come and feel like a collaborator.”
When asking about what they thought of the final film, Ryan, much like Damon and T.J. said, “We cried.”
Ryan, who himself is just starting college, was asked to comment on the importance of education, especially since his character Hiro starts the film as a bit of a slacker but is later convinced by his older brother to enroll in school. “I think (college) is important now, speaking as an artist,” said Ryan. “Not everybody flourishes in a college environment. Some people flourish in arts school, or four years of college, but some people flourish in job training. So for kids to continue education in a field where they are inspired I think is really important.”
Next up were Jamie Chung (“GoGo Tomago”) and Genesis Rodriguez (“Honey Lemon”).
When asked about how she voiced her character Go Go, Jamie told us, “I feel like I’m a bit warmer than my character and they kept asking me to tone it down, make it drier. So that was the challenge.” In speaking about the role of Honey Lemon, Genesis said, “I couldn’t believe how similar we (myself and Honey Lemon) were, and without planning it. I walked into the audition with socks and heels, and I had never done that before. And they are a robotics team, and I used to do robotics in high school. I was blown away. Kind of like when you’re meant for a part.”
Genesis loves the message of the film. “Hopefully with this movie, a lot of little boys and girls can dream of changing the world with science, becoming scientists or chemists. Anyone can be a super hero if you just prepare yourself and educate yourself, you can do anything you dream of, and these girls are just, they are total opposites but they are super intelligent and super strong females and they are kind of even stronger than the boys in the film.” Jamie adds, “(The movie) also breaks down the stereotype of what a family is and the contemporary and conventional idea of what makes a family. There are a lot of different things that are addressed in this film that I support.”
I hope these behind-the-scenes insights makes your viewing of “Big Hero 6” even more enjoyable! Come back later this week for my review. Remember “Big Hero 6” is in theaters everywhere this Friday, November 7.
Mindy is a lifelong Disney junkie and Disneyland Annual Passport holder for longer than she cares to mention. Since 2012 she has been using her vast knowledge of all things Disney to help guests plan their Disney vacations as a travel specialist affiliated with Fairytale Journeys Travel Agency. She also writes about her love of everything Disney at Inspired By Dis, and whatever else is on her mind at Budget Fairy Tale.