During a recent press trip to Los Angeles with a fellow group of bloggers we had the unique opportunity to sit down with Scott Adsit, the voice of Baymax, from Disney’s BIG HERO 6. Baymax is a favorite in our house. The kids go around doing fist bumps and reciting lines from the movie. We’ve seen BIG HERO 6 a ton of times and the kids were a bit jealous when I told them I would be meeting the voice of Baymax, Hiro, and Tadashi.
What challenges did you face bringing the character Baymax to life?
“I think the audience does a lot of the work for Baymax” Scott says. “Everything Baymax says is essentially programmed because he’s a robot,” says Adsit. “But over time, as he builds a relationship with Hiro, he adapts and deep inside his inflatable self is a soul, I think. He starts out almost like a child—with a waddle and an innocent look—and grows, embodying different aspects of the relationships in our lives: he’s a son, a brother, and eventually a father. So Baymax is family.”
How did you find Baymax’s voice? I’m sure you tried everything.
“Yeah, I didn’t know if it would be a robotic voice. Then they brought me in for the audition and the script was the first indication that it wouldn’t be a typical robotic voice. When I saw the picture, because they already had the character design, and so when I saw the picture, I just saw soft, huggable, so I found a very benign bedside manner voice. I mixed that with kind of like a state of the art of robotic interaction vocally, which is pretty much an automated phone system. So he will talk with the flow, but then there are elements within a sentence that are variables. And so they’ll sound a little separate from the rest of it” – Scott Adsit.
Going into that process, did you look at any past cinematic robots for inspiration for what not to do?
I more looked at family members who are very soft and huggable and benign. I didn’t research other robots. I know all the other robots […] it would be to stay away from C3PO or from Canine or whoever. – Scott Adsit
How did your character evolve throughout the film?
We found the voice pretty early on in the audition. The big change was somewhere in the middle of the process, they decided to give him another facet, which is when he loses power and becomes, for lack of a better word, drunk. And so I came in and they introduced this concept to me, and they’d scripted a bit of it. And so my first question was okay, so how do I take that voice and make it drunk, because it is such a straight line, the voice. – Scott Adsit
Did you find yourself going home and staying in character?
Yes, and I would have to catch myself saying don’t, start talking like Baymax all the time because then that would really annoy people, especially casting directors. – Scott Adsit
Since the movie came out, how many fist bumps have you been forced to do?
I’m never forced to do it and it happens a few times a week. But not everyone knows it’s me, either. I’ll get more 30 Rock requests from people because they see my face. – Scott Adsit
Do you used to do a lot of improv?
It’s a very collaborative process with these guys, and I’m very appreciative of that because I come from an acting background of improv and there’s a good bit of my creations in there. Most of it is that great script. But in like the drunk scenes, I should say low batter scenes, I got to play and they had a structure of what needed to happen in the scene and they just let me say whatever I wanted.
The fist bump noise is mine and there’s a lot of things that would be changed along the way because it just didn’t sound right in my ear, which I thought that’s amazing that they would […] listen and they incorporated it. – Scott Adsit
Has being the silent hero changed you any?
I see the value in just entertaining without needing to feed my own ego. There’s a certain satisfaction in being a stage actor where you get an immediate response. And you can walk off and say that was great. That’s part of the reward of that. It is bigger than me, and I know I’m a small part of what makes Baymax Baymax and so lovable, because Baymax is this diamond with every facet being a different person. – Scott Adsit
It was so much fun meeting Scott Adsit, and I earned major brownie points with my kids for meeting the voice of Baymax. I only wish I could have shared the experience with both of my children.