Look who’s back!
The award winning Big Hero 6 movie is soon to be a television series! Starting with a one-hour primetime movie that will air Monday, November 20 at 8 p.m simultaneously on Disney XD and Disney Channel. The movie, called “Baymax Returns,” will serve as a launching pad for the series, which will debut in early 2018.
The series will continue the adventures and friendship of Hiro, Baymax and the Big Hero 6 team, picking up immediately following the events of the feature film. Beginning Nov. 24, look for Big Hero 6: The Series shorts to air every Friday for six consecutive weeks on Disney XD, the DisneyNOW app and Disney XD YouTube.
The gang is all here!
Reprising their roles from the feature film are Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass, Ryan Potter as Hiro, Scott Adsit as Baymax, Jamie Chung as Go Go, Alan Tudyk as Alistair Krei, Genesis Rodriguez as Honey Lemon, David Shaughnessy as Heathcliff and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee as Fred’s dad. Also joining the main voice cast are Khary Payton as Wasabi and Brooks Wheelan as Fred. Recurring guest voice cast includes Jenifer Lewis as Professor Granville, Haley Tju as Karmi, Andrew Scott as Obake and Andy Richter as Globby.
During my recent trip to L.A. I had the chance to visit the Disney XD building to screen Baymax Returns, followed by a fun Q & A with Ryan Potter (voice of Hiro), Executive Producers Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley and Nick Filippi.
I’m excited to share some of the highlights and quotes from our Q & A below.
Ryan Potter (voice of Hiro) on how creating the series is different than making the movie;
I think 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. And 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, well, not me personally, 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 McCorkle: All the writers 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 Schooley: 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.
So, 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.
Q: Are we going to see any cameos in the TV show?
Mark McCorkle: 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. And it’s just great to work with Stan Lee like that. Intimidating, but an honor.
I mean 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.
Nick Filippi on the difference in the animation;
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 Schooley On the film and series background;
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. And 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. And 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.
Getting to know the other characters – fans can look forward to episodes where the spotlight shines on Fred, Go-Go and Honey Lemon.
Mark McCorkle: A 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.
Bob Schooley: 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.
Will science play just as much of a role in the series as it did the movie?
Mark McCorkle: As soon as Bob and I first saw the movie on our way out, Bob turned to me and goes, it’s so refreshing to see science being positive, or being portrayed in a positive way that’s not dystopian future or whatever, because when we grew up, science was, let’s get an astronaut to the moon, like it was about solving problems. It was about the future and reaching and striving and I feel like we kind of lost that a little bit. So for us, it’s nice that you have this group of kids that are all smart and being smart is cool.
Ryan Potter: That’s one thing that’s never changed and I don’t think ever will change. At the heart of the story, it’s just a bunch of smart kids and every problem that they encounter, they tend to solve it with their wits.
Mark McCorkle: We did a specific story with Hiro, that Ryan did a great job on, where he suddenly looks around and goes boy, I gave everybody else a superpower, but I don’t have one. And he gives himself one and that’s the one where Stan Lee kind of gives him advice and he learns his superpower is his brain. Being smart is his superpower.
Q: A lot of the heart of the show is the chemistry between the Big Hero 6. As an actor, do you get experience talking to those people during filming? Do you get to see them? How does that work out?
Ryan Potter: I’ve answered this question kind of in the past, but it was about other animated properties that I’d seen from Disney and Disney/Pixar. A lot of the credit goes to the sound engineers and the voice directors and the producers and the way they pick the takes that we do as performers and then they start to kind of mesh it together and piece the whole thing together, because you have a map of just all these different characters speaking, and then the animators get to work, but that map or that structure that you’re creating, that’s not on us. I have no idea how to move those voices around and, pitch, fade in, time, time code this. That’s these guys.
Mark McCorkle: So the truth is almost no one records together. Everybody records in isolation.
On future villains – there will be a variety of male and female villains on the series. One is played by Katy Mixon from American Housewife, and said to be hilarious as part of a mother-daughter 80’s themed dance crime team.
On episode production – the team has about 30 episodes already recorded, well into the second season.
My thoughts on Baymax Returns;
Already a big fan of the Big Hero 6 (2014) movie, I felt Baymax Returns had a lot to aspire to, after all, a lot of people are already emotionally invested in this story. The one hour movie did that in flying colors. The characters were just as likeable and well written as the movie. The story just as interesting, and heartfelt. I really enjoy the relationship between Hiro and Aunt Cass, having a teenager myself, I found a few of their moments pretty easy to relate to. The fun really comes when they suit up. And just like in the movie, the banter between characters is hilarious, and the close calls with villains keep it exciting. I predict now that Big Hero 6: The Series is going to be a huge hit with families. It seems perfect for all ages. I cant wait to tune in with our girls to catch more of the adventures. They are really going to love it. This series is going to be so good it deserves a fist bump – Blah-la-la-la-la-la!
Disclosure: Travel, lodging, events, and meals during this trip were provided courtesy of Disney/Pixar, Disney Studios, & ABC. All opinions expressed are still honest and my own.