Ryan Potter is one cool dude. I had the chance to speak with him over the phone to promote the recent Blu-ray release of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ hit film Big Hero 6.
As you know, Ryan provided the voice for the film’s protagonist, Hiro Hamada. His audition for the role was an “interesting process,” he said. The film’s casting director “wanted to cast true to [Hiro’s] ethnicity” and the search was extensive. When Ryan was called in for his audition, instead of a traditional audition experience, Ryan had a “work session” with director Don Hall. “Don and I vibed. He tested me on my Japanese pop culture knowledge. It was an hour-long session where we worked on creating the character.”
If you’ve seen the film, you know that Hiro’s character arc really covers the gamut of emotions. When asked how he did it by only using his voice, Ryan said that he is a very “visual person” and that the recording process was “very freeing…I was able to go in the booth and explore and have fun and be a kid again.”
One of the many things that impressed me about Ryan was his perspective on how animation is a team process.
“It really goes to show that the animation process is a team effort,” he said. “You have the sound engineers, the production designer, head of story, the writers–all these different people play such an important role in creating the film. I feel that a lot of times the voice over cast is given the most of the recognition, but really the huge portion of the film lands on these guys and the animators—they’re phenomenal.”
When asked about his favorite scene in the film, he said it was the the first flight sequence with Hiro and Baymax. “It’s every kid’s dream come true.”
Although he got to briefly record in person with Maya Rudolph (who voiced Aunt Cass in the film), Ryan didn’t actually meet the rest of the film’s voice cast until the first cast screening at the Walt Disney Animation Studios. He immediately connected with Scott Adsit (Baymax) and Daniel Henney (Tadashi). “When I met Scott and Daniel, we didn’t miss a beat.”
For what’s next, Ryan wasn’t at liberty to say much about his upcoming film projects. But one thing that I thought was exceptionally cool was that he has challenged himself this year with a resolution “to create something every day in whatever medium or format that is.” He is really into photography which is on display on his Instagram account, and he is also working on a fashion line coming out in the spring. “I’m just trying to stay creative,” he said, which is a heroic resolution indeed.