Sitting behind a table in a medium-sized room at the W in Los Angeles, California, Ryan Potter and Daniel Henney seem quite satisfied with their care. The duo voice brothers Hiro and Tadashi in Disney’s latest animated smash Big Hero 6.
Potter, raised in Tokyo, Japan, until the age of seven, has been a lifelong fan of manga and anime. In the film, he voices the robotics-genius younger brother Hiro Hamada, who’s more interested in using his skills to rig illegal Bot Battles than for furthering society.
Henney, who voices older brother Tadashi Hamada, has appeared in a number of films including X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand, as well as TV Appearances on NCIS: LA, Occult, and Hawaii Five-O.
This day, however, the two are sitting comfortably, as roughly two dozen bloggers prepare to ask them questions about their roles in Big Hero 6.
Ryan, how excited were you to work on this film and did you geek out over all the science?
RYAN: Yeah, it wasn’t necessarily a love for robotics and science. It was more for just a love of creating. Within robotics, there’s so much you can create. I had this Lego robot kit…
DANIEL: I had that, too.
RYAN: Yeah, that thing is awesome. I had a lot of models and robots and all these different things that I just loved piecing it together. So it wasn’t necessarily a love for robotics and science but more just wanting to be able to kind of build things that were almost trapped in my mind. It’s very meditative for me to use my hands and to build things. Being able to voice Hiro, that’s literally who I was four years ago. I was that kid, yeah. I think I still am. [LAUGHS]
Daniel, you’ve been in a Wolverine movie already, and now you’re in Marvel’s Big Hero 6. Were you a big comic book fan as a kid?
DANIEL: Not huge, but I was definitely into them. I was into Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, stuff like that. It’s still very surreal, though. It isn’t like this is my normal Tuesday 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. After I finished Big Hero 6, I was like, oh yeah, I did Wolverine, too, so there is a connection there, but I didn’t think about it until afterwards.
Daniel, even though your character is a small part of the film, you made a huge impact. How is Tadashi different from your real personality?
DANIEL: I dress just like Tadashi. I always have. I don’t usually wear suits, so 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. But to answer your question, he’s made me a better person. He really has. Living in this world, we all 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 what a man should be at such a young age. So smart, beautiful, intelligent, caring, genuine, the ultimate big brother, and very selfless. And so every day I would walk out of that room feeling like I just sat through a therapy session. Like I wanted to tackle the world.
Did you two meet early on in the filming process?
DANIEL: No. We met for the first time on screening day. It was weird, you know? 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.
RYAN: You just didn’t care about the other people.
DANIEL: Yeah. [LAUGHS]. Yeah, I didn’t really care, and I was just looking up, and the minute he walked in the room, I had gravitate towards him. I felt we needed to connect, and we did. It was a big hug and it just felt very organic.
My daughter is in Korea, and I was so excited that you’re making this film and showing another face.
DANIEL: Yeah, absolutely.
How did that impact you in your thinking about doing the film?
RYAN: First of all, it was a huge honor being the first multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Disney characters, ever. It was absolutely a huge honor. We would’ve paid them to cast us.
DANIEL: You didn’t pay?!? [LAUGHS]
RYAN: It’s something with a Disney film, it’s like wish fulfillment. It’s every kid’s kinda 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, it breaks the mold. A
DANIEL: I grew up in Michigan. 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. My father’s Caucasian so I had that connection, but yet, I was very much Asian. So it’s very satisfying to know that we can do projects like this now that can give children that little moment, where they say, ‘Oh, I can do that because they can do that.’
Does this film celebrate science and robotics?
RYAN: Yeah, it really does. The characters are all geniuses. The film does celebrate science and robotics, and just being a smart person. But what it really celebrates is being yourself, and these kids just happen to be very smart. 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 it also celebrates just being a nerd. It celebrates being an outstanding young man and having high morals, and being a strong independent woman, and it celebrates simply being yourself.
What’s next for you guys?
DANIEL: 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. It’s another one of those things where it’s not necessarily a role that you see an Asian-American man cast for, and so I’m proud to bust those doors open a little further. So this will be a big one, and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, everything goes well.
RYAN: I applied for college. [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] …I love it, all the moms are like, ‘yep.’ I applied for an art school, My entire family, they’re all educators. They all had four years of education. They’re all pushing USC on me and it just simply wasn’t an option.Myy mom grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Her dad just said, do whatever you want. She 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. I want to create, and I want to bring the things in my head to life.
Big Hero 6
On Blu-ray and Disney HD TODAY!