Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams’ BIG HERO 6 is destined to not only blow kids away, but also inspire them to invent great things. After the sudden death of his older brother, teen prodigy Hiro Hamata (voiced by Ryan Potter) accidentally awakens his brother’s latest creation – a squishy, adorable healthcare companion named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit). Soon thereafter it’s learned that a mysterious masked villain is threatening to take over the city of San Fransokyo. In order to defeat this nefarious force, Hiro assembles his closest pals – which include acerbic adrenaline junkie GoGo Tamago (voiced by Jamie Chung), precision expert Wasabi (voiced by Damon Wayans, Jr.), chemistry genius/ fashonista Honey Lemon (voiced by Genesis Rodriguez) and inventor groupie Fred (voiced by T.J. Miller) – to get into fighting form.
Since we learned quite a bit at the film’s recent press day in Los Angeles, we wanted to share with you a few of the film’s best behind-the-scenes details straight from the stars (Wayans Jr., Miller, Chung, Rodriguez, Potter and Adsit) and the filmmakers (Hall and Williams themselves.
8. There’s diversity in BIG HERO 6’s ensemble. While there are no old wooden ships in BIG HERO 6, audiences may notice the diversity amongst ensemble cast members. Best of all? It’s never discussed. Rodriguez states, “It’s like this multi-cultural family. All the friends come together. I think that’s celebrated in this superhero crew.” Chung says, “It’s such a relief not having to deal with the race issues. It’s like family is family. It breaks down that stereotype of what a family is – the contemporary idea of what makes a family.”
7. In an early draft of BIG HERO 6, Wasabi was a germaphobe. Wayans, Jr. says, “My character changed – I don’t exactly know why. Originally, he was supposed to be a germaphobe (like a Howie Mandel kind of dude), but they would up changing him and made him more of a guy who’s obsessed with precision and order. An OCD kind of guy, which is similar, but the jokes were different.” Williams says, “He was the character that evolved the most, because of the actor. He has a particular style of comedy and we found ourselves bending the character towards that style.”
6. BIG HERO 6’s teaches kids how to cope with death. Disney films like BAMBI, DUMBO and THE LION KING have dealt with the subject of death. However, BIG HERO 6 tackles grief in a completely different way. Wayans, Jr. says, “The is the first movie that dealt with coping with death. Needing the people around you to be with you at your lowest point and build you up from there.” Miller concurs, “I was so proud to be a part of the first Disney film where the characters talk about death. It’s not just the iconography and silence scenes, it’s also telling a robot, ‘You’re not gonna be able to help me with this.’ Dealing with grief and understanding loss. That moment she [Aunt Cass] switches the plate and he [Hiro] hasn’t touched dinner, it says non-verbally to kids that’s how hard it is. You won’t wanna eat.” Wayans, Jr. follows up, “It goes through all the emotions when you lose someone – the anger, the confusion.” In order to do this, the filmmakers met with grief counselors and experts. Williams says, “We were never afraid of taking on the deep emotion, difficult subject matter. It’s part of the Disney history. If you can do it artfully, then that’s what Disney is. I’m overwhelmed were part of carrying that legacy forward.” Halls states, “In addition to examining how you felt when you lost somebody that was close to you, I read The Kübler-Ross model, the stages of grief. We sought out grief experts and social workers that deal with teenagers – specifically teen loss. We learned stuff, but I also remember feeling validated that we were taking the correct path.”
5. A few cast members can’t wait to own their action figures. Miller calls his, “my little friend.” Chung says, “We saw the movie first and then we saw the little toys. It all came at us at such a high velocity. It’s so neat – it’s kind of surreal.” Rodriguez says, “I’m definitely going to buy all the little characters. I don’t know if they’re gonna hook me up with them, but I’m gonna have a little shrine at the house.”
4. Some of the cast cried after watching BIG HERO 6. Though Potter fully admits, “we cried,” a few of the other cast members didn’t shed a tear. Miller emphatically states “No.” Wayans, Jr. adds, “I almost did. After I held it in, I looked to see if [Miller] was gonna rub [his] face.” Miller jokes, “I held up a pocket mirror to see if you [Wayans, Jr.] were gonna cry. I was pretending to check my messages.”
3. T.J. Miller’s “Fred’s Angels” song is longer than shown. After you see the film, you’ll want to hear the extended cut of Miller’s improvised song. Chung says, “I just feel like T.J. Miller didn’t stop.”
2. Genesis Rodriguez used to build battle bots. Not only does she share Honey Lemon’s fashion sense (in particular occasionally sporting socks with heels), she shares the love of inventing. She says, “I couldn’t believe how similar we were. They’re a robotics team – I used to do robotics in high school.” She also shares in Hiro’s love of building robots, “It was pure coincidence. I came in to audition and was like, ‘I used to be on a robotics team!’ He was like, ‘What?’ ‘I used to be a welder.’ He was like, ‘Who are you?!’ Chung regrets not having the same coincidences on her side. She says, “I came in and they were like, ‘What cool things did you used to build?’ [mimics being unsure] ‘I used to build birdhouses.’ And she’s like, ‘I built these killer machine bots!’ Such a difference.”
1. Scott Adsit found Baymax’s voice sort of on the spot. He says, “I went in with the idea that he had to be very benign (because he’s a caregiver), unthreatening and also user friendly. The first thing I thought of was automated phone systems. The fact that they’re friendly but there’s something off about them. The idea of filling in the blank when there’s a variable. Almost like his dialogue had been edited from different sources. That stuck through from the audition on. I thought I’d be doing a robot voice because he has this armor and I knew that was coming. Preparing for the audition, I thought I’d better have a robot voice. Then I walked into the room and they had a design photo on the wall and it was him in his white form and I said, ‘Oh. I get it. This I can do. I don’t have to fake it.”
BIG HERO 6 opens on November 7.
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