And the winner is . . .
Disney’s Big Hero 6 won the Oscar as Best Animated Feature. Just think: The action-packed comedy-adventure about a robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada gets friendly with a gold-plated naked man! This 14-year-old hero learns to harness his genius, thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends.
When a devastating turn of events catapults the gang into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion–a robot named Baymax–and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery.
Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, Big Hero 6 is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, and it’s produced by Roy Conli. With the Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD about to be released, we talk to actor Ryan Potter–who voices Hiro Hamada in the movie–to find out more . . .
How would you describe this animated adventure?
Big Hero 6 is a film about a kid named Hiro and a medical robot named Baymax. These two characters go off on a crazy adventure together in a place called San Fransokyo, which is a mix of San Francisco and Tokyo.
What can you tell us about the Blu-ray and DVD extras?
There’s a lot of material that didn’t make it into the final movie that we saw in the script early on–but there’s so much that we don’t know about. There are so many Easter eggs in the film and one of the extra features goes through a list of them! There are also two different alternative openings to the film. We recorded six different openings, but you’ll be able to see two of them, which is crazy.
What is your favorite deleted scene on the DVD and Blu-ray?
There’s an alternative opening that I absolutely love. The two brothers are putting together some rocket boots for their cat, Mochi–and it’s such a great scene. I love that cat!
Talking of animals, Feast is the animated Disney short that is another bonus feature on the Blu-ray and DVD. It’s the hilarious story of a cute and hungry dog. Have you got any pets at home?
I’ve always seemed to have a zoo at home. At one point, I had 24 hamsters! I bought two and we thought they were both boys, but they weren’t. I have two dogs and three cats at the moment. We have a corgi/Jack Russell mix and another dog that we have no clue about.
In Feast, the pet dog eats anything and everything. What do your pet dogs eat?
They will eat whatever. If it drops off the table, they will eat it!
Let’s talk more about Big Hero 6. What are some of the flick’s themes?
Big Hero 6 is a film about family. Big Hero 6 is about being yourself and being proud of who you are. Big Hero 6 is about setting your mind to something and getting things done. It’s a really fun film and it’s been an amazing project to work on.
Who do you play in the movie?
I play the role of Hiro in the movie. How would I describe Hiro? He is really good at computers, but he puts his intellect to the wrong use at the beginning of the story. By the end of the film, he’s put on the right path by his new family of superheroes.
Are you a whiz with computers, just like your character in the movie?
I’m a big computer guy. In fact, I built the computer that I have now. I didn’t build each and every piece, but I put certain parts of it together. I love trying to make it go faster and I’m always checking to make sure it runs smoothly. I love computers!
What would you like to ask Hiro if you could speak to him?
I would love to ask him how he gets his hair to stand up like that. He’s got very cool hair. To be honest, I’m a little jealous of it.
What can you tell us about Hiro’s robot friend, Baymax?
Baymax is amazing! He’s an inflatable robot who scans humans to see if they have any medical problems. He’s a robot of the future, and he’s very huggable.
What do you like about Baymax?
I love Baymax’s personality and the way that things go over his head. I also love his walk. The animators researched three different walks for Baymax. The first walk saw Baymax walking like a toddler. The second walk saw Baymax walking like a toddler with a full diaper. The third walk saw Baymax walking like a penguin. They went with the penguin walk in the end. It kills me! His walk is so funny.
What would you like to ask Baymax if you could speak to him?
I’d like to ask him to make me something to eat. I’m a big foodie and would just love it if I had a real Baymax that had a chef drive!
How much fun did you have in the recording booth for Big Hero 6?
It was a lot of fun in the recording booth, but it was also a little bizarre. You stand in a room with a microphone and nothing else. Sometimes a director comes in with you, but most of the time you’re in there alone. You run around the room. You throw yourself around. You scream. You yell. You whisper. You laugh. I must have looked insane!
How weird was it in there?
It’s interesting because you’re basically standing in a small room talking to yourself. That alone is psychotic! There is no other industry where people do that, except for the music industry where people sing in a room by themselves – but that seems sane in comparison. To be honest, recording the lines is hilarious when you think about it.
How did you prepare for the recording sessions?
I would warm up my voice before I went into the recording booth. The voice you hear in the film was recorded more than a year ago. Since then, my voice has gotten a little bit deeper–but Hiro’s voice is higher. At the start of each session, I’d warm up my voice and make sure that I sounded the same as the first session. We had to make sure the tone was consistent, so we would always find that higher voice. I would always get back to it.
Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic book series. Are you a fan of comic books?
I love comics. My buddy’s dad gave me a box of comic books a while ago. Inside, I found issue one, three and four of the original Big Hero 6 comic series, so I knew about the story before I’d even auditioned.
Big Hero 6 is a movie about heroes. What makes a good hero?
Every hero has a flaw. What makes a good hero is when they are able to deal with their flaws in a good way. They don’t let the flaw take over.
Who is your biggest hero?
I have a lot of heroes. My mother would definitely be one of them. She’s such a strong, amazing person. The legendary, George Takei is another. I worked with George for years; he played my grandfather on a Supah Ninjas. He taught me so much about this industry.
What superhero power would you most like to have?
I would love the ability to fly. That would be amazing! There’s something special about flying. The closest we can get to it is falling or skydiving, but that’s a lot scarier. I’d love to be able to fly through the air and to be able to see the sights as you soar over cities.
What would you do if you were a superhero for the day?
I would fly around the city and help the elderly cross the street. That’s what I’d do all day long!
Hiro is a brainbox who is tempted back to study in the movie. What were you like at school?
I was a good student. There were some classes where I thought I was always catching up, but there were other classes where I thought I was ahead. I guess I was pretty average.
What were your favorite and worst school subjects?
History was my best subject at school. I love learning about the past, especially ancient history. I really wasn’t a fan of math, though. I’m a very creative, artsy person–I just couldn’t wrap my head around numbers like I could art or history.
At the start of the movie, Hiro spends a lot of his time on his own. Were you like that at school?
At school, I had a good group of friends, small but solid. I always enjoyed my alone time. I think it’s important to have a nice balance.
What went through your mind when you saw your character on screen for the first time?
I thought, ‘Wow, it’s me!’ I grew up watching Disney films, but there weren’t really any characters that looked like me. Being able to see Hiro on screen as a leading Asian American kid really blew my mind.
How does it feel to be the voice of Hiro? Does it feel like a dream come true?
Believe me, this role is definitely a dream come true. I grew up watching Disney movies and I grew up reading Marvel comics. When they came together in Big Hero 6, I couldn’t believe my luck.
What’s your favorite scene in the movie?
The standout scene for me is the first flight sequence. Baymax takes Hiro for a ride on his back and it’s the ultimate superhero dream come true. Seeing my character soar over San Fransokyo on the back of Baymax is really beautiful to watch. It’s amazing.
What do you think of San Fransokyo?
I love the fact that San Fransokyo is based on two cities that I know so well. I lived in Tokyo until the age of seven, but I also visit family in San Francisco often. It’s where my mom grew up. Seeing the two cities together in the movie and then flying through them is incredibly surreal.
And finally: Why should we see the movie? It’s wonderful to see such a wonderful group of characters. It doesn’t matter where you come from, your age or your gender, you will be able to relate to at least one of these characters. It’s just so rare to see in film. It’s wonderfully refreshing. It is also full action, adventure, laughs and yes a few tears too. But all in all, it’s the perfect film to share with your family.