Is your family a fan of Big Hero 6? If so, you’re going to be super excited to hear that the one-hour TV movie “Baymax Returns” premieres on Monday November 20 at 8:00p.m. on Disney XD and Disney Channel.
Interview with Ryan Potter (voice of “Hiro”) and Executive Producers Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley + Nick Philippi
While I was in Los Angeles for the Pixar Coco Event, we stopped by Disney XD to screen this new one-hour TV movie and had an opportunity to chat with Ryan Potter (voice of “Hiro”) and Executive Producers Mark McCorkle, Bob Scholey and Nick Philippi about this amazing new TV series.
I’m sure that some of you are wondering why they chose to do a TV series and not another movie. I was wondering the same thing so that was the first question that was asked:
Ryan: With the series, we could just have a lot more fun! Not to say we put less work into this, because that’s not true at all, but I would go in for a specific scene for the film four, five, seven, eight times, but with the series I go in once to record an episode, and we get to go in the booth and play around with the entire episode. Then, we throw ideas back and forth, as opposed to me coming in two months later with brand new ideas. A lot of it is actually coming from, us in the room. Not necessarily me personally because the writers do a lot of work, but there’s a lot of synergy for the episodes in the sense that we get to create a lot on the spot, because we still animate post voice, so we don’t have to always stay true to the script.
Mark: All the records are very collaborative with the actors, because we always say to people sometimes saying a line the way it was written maybe doesn’t feel exactly right. Or some people are very good at ad-libbing and have ideas for jokes. You’ve got Brooks who does Fred, who is always full of ideas which is great.
Bob: We always encourage the actors, and especially when you’re adapting a movie, the actors know the characters better than we do coming in. So we let them take the lead on that to a big degree. I mean, Scott with Baymax, he has a very specific idea of what Baymax would and wouldn’t do, what he wouldn’t say. We never mind if an actor is like ah I don’t think that feels right for the character. It definitely keeps it with the continuity of the movie where the characters don’t feel like they’ve changed. They’re evolving over the course of the series, but we feel like they’re true to the movie.
Next, we wondered if they could tell us about some of the cameos that we will see in this TV series.
Mark: Somebody we’re very excited that we brought back, Stan Lee who plays Fred’s dad in that little after credit sequence. The back story is that he was a superhero in the past and he gets to be the voice of wisdom from Fred, and then a particular episode for Hiro. It’s just great to work with Stan Lee like that. Intimidating, but an honor. The cast is a very varied cast. It’s probably the most varied on any show that Bob, Nick and I have ever worked on, because typically this mix of folks from live action, like Obake, our main villain, is voiced by Andrew Scott, who is Moriarte in the BBC Sherlock series. So while we were recording him, he was doing Hamlet in London, but then we also have Globby, who is one of our more comedic villains. That’s voiced by Andy Richter. So those are two Andy’s that are on different spheres of influence, but it’s a wide ranging voice cast. When we first developed this show, what the kids responded to was that there was a variety, that some of the villains are sillier and a little more comedic, and some are more serious and threatening. I think in a weird way, if it has all been one or the other, it would get a little too repetitious.
As you’ll see in the TV movie, the beginning animation is so cool and very different. We wanted to know what it was called or what the technique was.
Nick: It is traditional hand-drawn animation, where the feature was computer generated 3D animation. We chose to go with hand-drawn animation partially because we wanted to create a new world and look for the show. We wanted everybody to immediately recognize these characters, to embrace these characters that they fell in love with in the movie, but we wanted to have a fresh start on the show, so we choose hand-drawn animation similar to what Disney was doing in the 60’s. We were referencing 101 Dalmatians. We wanted something that had a graphic feel that the animators could really latch on to, but also the warmth of the hand-drawn pencil line.
Bob: We talked to the directors of the feature when we were developing it, and they asked if we were going to do it in CG or in traditional 2D? And frankly to do CG for television, there’s no way we could do what they did. That movie was so amazing, so it’s like, well, let’s be the best thing we can be for TV, and the directors were like, what Disney TV Animation is doing right now in traditional 2D is beautiful, so run with that. We sort of took that as yeah, that’s the way to go, just because that’s so unique. It’s become this thing where CG is a big features thing and then TV is just doing some amazing things with 2D now, because we’ve been doing this awhile.
Nick: Between our show, Tangled and DuckTales, I think there’s three very good vital contemporary examples of how smart 2D art direction can make something a unique piece of entertainment onto itself.
Bob: When we did Kim Possible, we definitely loved that look and we wanted to do something that sort of felt kind of like that, but had its own identity, but we were really happy with what they’re doing with 2D on this show. I mean, it’s very dynamic. The action scenes in this, I think, are pretty amazing for TV.
The film and this series offers that the background is almost an additional character. We wanted to know a little more about building that world.
Bob: Well, in this especially, there’s little foreshadowing practically to every plot in the first season. There’s little nods to characters you’re gonna meet. We fell in love with the idea of this mash-up culture of San Francisco and Tokyo, just because it was such a cool idea. That sort of informed the animation. We were like let’s make it look like sort of traditional American animation. The stuff in it like noodle burger, which are hamburgers on Ramen bun roll. So there’s a lot of that. Then, Muirahara Woods this is a smash up. It’s like Muir Woods and Tokyo’s Aokigahara Forest. So it definitely became sort of this fun thing to create that combo world.
Mark: It was neat to explore the city. It’s a big city, to create neighborhoods from the sort of bad part of town to the lovely part where Hiro in the flashback is learning to ride a bike. We felt like we wanted to make a real city.
Since this is a series, we were wondering if the series will give us some episodes where we get more in depth with the other characters!
Mark: This two-parter was not the first thing we did. The first couple of episodes we did a spot light on Fred and a spotlight on Go Go and Honey Lemon. We felt like we knew that Hiro and Baymax were the heart of this show, of this whole franchise. So we knew that would be the big thrust for the series, but as fans we got to see so little of those other characters in the movie. It was fun to say, okay, let’s do more with them.
Bob: To dig into the movie, they were such great, vivid characters, but they had so little screen time really because of the scope of what the movie was all about.
Mark: So it’s a nice change to move the spotlight around a little bit. The other character we’ve had a great time with is Aunt Cass. Maya Rudolph is super funny, super talented, but for me what was fun in that movie, the original movie, and we tried to carry it on. She’s a flawed caregiver. She’s not entirely confident, which to me is real. That’s how it is being a parent. You don’t have all the answers, so for us, that’s a really fun, rich character. And I think the relationship with Hiro in the movie, no offense (To Ryan) you’re a pretty bad kid. He get’s arrested and then he’s willing to go right back out and get arrested again. So for our series, we knew okay, he’s on this new path where he’s trying to be a better kid. He’s still a risk taker. So the two of them try, it’s a fun family relationship. Two people that maybe aren’t 100 percent certain of what they’re doing, but they’re both trying and it’s fun.
Bob: The other character from the movie that we’re having a great time with is, Krei, played by Alan Tudyk, who is a genius and he’s so funny. He brings such life to that character and we’ve gone so crazy with him compared to what he was in the movie. It’s been a lot of fun to explore that character.
What about a female or a girlfriend for Baymax?
Mark: Anything is possible!
Ryan: Well, has it been established that Baymax is male? I think it’s, I get the voice is male, but I don’t think you’ve ever said he, but yeah, it’s possible.
Mark: We do have a good mix with our villains on the gender front that we have a number of female villains as well.
Bob: We have Katy Mixon from American Housewife and she’s hilarious. We have really about half and half, male to female roles.
Mark: Katy is part of a something that every superhero show needs to have. She’s part of a mother-daughter 80’s themed dance crime team.
We wondered who their favorite character was!
Bob: Honey Lemon we love, just because Genesis, who does her voice is that character, is so sweet and she just brings so much warmth to that character, but we really do, I love writing for all of them, just because I think they all have such distinct personalities. By this point, we’ve done maybe 30 episodes we’ve recorded, I guess, total. Yeah, we’re, we’re into second season in terms of production. You really get to sort of feel like the characters and the actors are the same thing to a degree, so you’re really writing for what you know they are.
Mark: Also the writers, in the writers room when we were punching out the script, Go Go is somebody writers like to write.
Bob: Jamie’s great too.
Mark: Short, sharp, borderline meme, a little snarky.
Bob: Although I will say Jamie is also incredibly sweet, so she, she’s not at all like Go Go, so she’s probably the exception.
Mark: In the movie, they did create a great ensemble that complement each other. We have fun writing for everybody.
Since Ryan is a young actor, we wanted to know what sort of advice he offered to others trying to make it in Hollywood.
Ryan: There’s so much, like trying to cut that down to a single response is almost impossible. The industry is tough. You have to build a really strong team, and not strong in the sense of big and powerful, but close and personal. I’ve been with my publicist Dani for close to seven years now, and my voiceover agent, Melissa, I’ve been with for I think five now. I try not to have any my agents or managers change at all. It’s always a bummer if somebody has to leave for personal reasons, and that’s happened in the past, and that was heartbreaking. It’s like losing a family member, ’cause these are the people that you kind of ride this wave with, and it’s not always an easy time. Most of the time, it’s not easy. So having a really strong team of people who you consider family is really important because at the end of the day these are the people you’re gonna end up working with for the next 10, 15, 20 years, if not more.
The writers like to add in some personal touches to the characters. Check out what Mark told us:
Mark: I know for me, we did an episode where Hiro graduated at the high school at the age of 13. He shoots from the hip and gets all A’s. The first time he gets a failure, it’s tough and I, as a parent, you go through that with your kids. It’s the good stuff. It’s great when it’s all going great, but as soon as you have that first failure, you’re like ah, I want to magically fix this. So that to me is the part that seeps in.
Big Hero 6: Baymax Returns
I am a huge fan of the the Big Hero 6 movie so when I heard that they would be doing a TV series, I couldn’t wait. After screening this TV Movie and chatting with the Executive Producers and Ryan Potter, I can’t wait for you to see it. I love the return of Baymax and what is in store for us this season! I am sure that if you were a fan of the movie, you all will love this awesome TV movie and TV series coming on Disney XD and Disney Channel very soon!
Make sure you tune on on Monday November 20 at 8:00p.m. on Disney XD and Disney Channel for this amazing TV Movie.
About “Baymax Returns”
Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, 14-year-old tech genius Hiro begins school as the new prodigy at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology and sets off to rebuild Baymax. However, his overconfidence and penchant for taking shortcuts leads him and the newly minted Big Hero 6 team – Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred – into trouble.