Did you see the Oscars last night? Did you see Big Hero 6 take home the win? I may have screamed a bit in my living room while watching. (What happens in Lisa’s living room stays in Lisa’s living room. LOL) A big part of why they won is Ryan Potter and Daniel Henney. They play Hiro and Tadashi in Big Hero 6. They brought these characters to life in such a way we felt for them both. (There may have been some onion cutting ninjas at the end of Big Hero 6, because I would never tear up at an animated film.) I recently got the opportunity to email both of these amazing men.
For those of you who aren’t comic book fans, Daniel was in the Wolverine movie. Big Hero 6 is also a comic book. Our first question to Daniel was if he was a big comic book fan as a kid.
Yeah, not huge, but I was definitely into them. I was into Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, stuff like that. It’s still very surreal though. It doesn’t get, like, oh, this is my normal Tuesday, you know, fighting Wolverine and dying in a helicopter. That’s not normal for me. This movie was very, very special. You could feel the Marvel influence, but it was just a whole other beautiful experience. It was just bigger than anything I’d done before.
We also talked to Daniel about how his character is a small part of the film, he made a huge impact. We wanted to know how Tadashi is different from him.
I dress just like Tadashi. I always have. I don’t usually wear suits. There’ll be days when I walk out of my house, I’ll take a look in the mirror, and I look just like Tadashi. I wear a cardigan and a baseball hat. To answer your question, he’s made me a better person. He really has. We get caught up in things and sometimes it’s hard to appreciate every moment like everyone preaches, you know?
It was a beautiful opportunity for me to go and play this guy who is such a role model for a man should be at such a young age- so smart, beautiful, intelligent, caring, genuine, the ultimate big brother, and he’s very selfless. Every day using your voice – lending your voice to that – I would walk out of that room feeling like I just sat through a therapy session. I wanted to tackle the world.
We asked Ryan about the challenges of the emotion of his role.
I’m Hiro, so I didn’t go into that room acting at all. I went into that room simply being myself and living in those circumstances. The creators of the film made a really comfortable environment, so I just revisited a lot of things that I felt before. A lot like he said, it was very much like therapy. I walked out of there like I was able to kinda purge a lot of things and it was awesome. It was absolutely awesome.
When we watch Big Hero 6, you can feel the chemistry between the characters. That is why we were shocked when Daniel told us when they actually met:
We met at the first screening day. It was weird. I’m not lying at all when I say that I feel a brotherly bond with this guy. We have similar experiences, similar backgrounds, and so the day of the screening, I hadn’t met any of the cast, but I was the most excited about meeting Ryan.
One of the fellow bloggers on this trip has a daughter that was adopted from Korea. She asked about how that impacted them in choosing to do this film. Ryan told us:
It was a huge honor being able to be the first to do the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Disney characters, ever. It’s absolutely a huge honor. From the very beginning, it wasn’t us necessarily us taking on the role, we would have paid. Like, we would’ve, we would’ve paid them to cast us.
It’s something with a Disney film. It’s like wish fulfillment. It’s every kid’s dream come true to be able to be a part of a film like this, and this one is really special because of that — because of how diverse it is, and it breaks the mold. We keep repeating it over and over, but the diversity is what makes it stand.
Daniel also told us:
It’s something I try to constantly think about when I choose roles. It’s very important. I grew up in Michigan, and when I was growing up, there was no one on TV that looked like me. If there was, they were a martial artist, so they had very heavy accents and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. It was a weird thing when you’re watching TV, and my father’s Caucasian and I had that connection, but yet, I was very much Asian. It’s very satisfying to know that we can do projects like this now that can give children like yours that little moment, and say, oh, I can do that because they can do that.
It’s a very special movie and not only that, but the characters are strong. They’re not just characters. They’re strong young women; they’re strong young men.
We asked Ryan (who was a Marvel comic fan before the movie) how it felt to actually be one of those characters now, and it hit him yet.
To be quite honest, I’m just sitting here, and none of it has hit me. The only thing that’s hit me is – oh, you’re this character and you did this role, and the movie’s out. After that, none of it is even registering. I think in ten years, I’ll go, oh wow, that’s right, that happened. I’m just so blown away by everything that has come from the whole Disney experience, and especially with this film. It’s wish fulfillment.
It really is. I grew up on anime and manga. When I moved to the United States, I started reading Marvel and DC comics, and I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, and now I don’t have to put on a cape and go fight crime at night. I got to be a superhero.
We asked about what it was like finding action figures of themselves. (It has to be surreal, you know). Daniel told us:
It’s just the funniest thing. I think people think when you do movies this they just throw a bunch of action figures your way. Let’s be honest, when you do movies like this, it is to get your action figure. It took me a long time to find my Wolverine action figure, because I wasn’t a huge part, but I found it.
This one, Tadashi’s not a huge part of it, but he did get a figure. I think I was at an airport up in the lounge, and these two kids were playing with Big Hero 6 figures, and they had Tadashi. They were like six year olds, and I got to walk up as the weird older dude, and ask where did you get that, kid? It’s like, that’s so surreal to have that moment. It’s very satisfying and fun.
We then talked about how this film celebrates science and robotics. Ryan told us:
The characters are all geniuses, and the film does celebrate science, robotics, and just being a smart person. What it really celebrates is being yourself, and these kids just happen to be very smart. A perfect example of it is Fred. He is not as smart as some of these people, but in his own sense, he actually is. He brings just as much to the table as any of these other characters do because they’re trying to be superheroes, and he knows all about the superheroes. Every single one of these kids are all brutally honest in who they are, and they’re proud of it.
They don’t shy away from who they are, so yes, it does celebrate robotics and science, but also it celebrates just being a nerd. It celebrates being an outstanding young man and having high morals, and being a strong independent woman, and you know, it’s, it celebrates simply being yourself. The science and robotics comes along with that. I’m happy that a film like this is being made, and kids can see that whatever you’re into- whatever obsession you have, carry it out.
I loved baseball and martial arts, and anime and manga, and like it still to this day, I will binge watch anime at home. I still play the video game version of Yugioh. That’s who I am, and I’m more than happy to tell people that. I feel like for the longest time, people were letting other people down simply because of their interests. This film celebrates freely expressing your interests.
We then asked them what was next for them. Daniel told us:
I can’t really disclose much, but I have a TV show I’m probably doing here in the states. I guess it’ll be coming out this fall. I’m pretty excited about it, and it’s another one of those things where it’s not necessarily a role that you see an Asian-American man casted for, and so I’m proud to bust those doors open a little further. This will be a big one, and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, everything goes well.
Ryan told us:
I applied for college, and I love it. I applied for an art school. Cal Art’s, it’s like the top. My entire family, they’re all educators. They all had four years of education. They’re all pushing USC on me and, and it just simply wasn’t an option, but my mom grew up in the ’60s and ’70s and followed all her dreams and carried out all these different fantasies, basically.
She’s been the one family member in my life that’s been, like, do what you want. I don’t want to go to college and study math and science and English. I want to study photography and film, and I want to create. I want to bring the things in my head to life. I simply can’t do math problems. I can do taxes. I can do all the math that’s required in everyday life, but I don’t know the circumference of a circle.
I’ll be continue, uh, continuing just pursuing my craft and all these different aspects- designing, shooting, acting, and then school on the side.
These guys were so amazing to talk to. They were so down to earth, and it was amazing to hear about their experiences with Big Hero 6. Big her 6 is available on Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere TODAY!
Is there something else we should have asked? Did you learn anything you didn’t know? Have you seen Big Hero 6 yet?