Disney+’s “Baymax!” marks the return to the world of Disney’s Academy Award-winning feature film “Big Hero 6.” While the animated television show explored a few great adventures, “Baymax” takes a look at the warm and squishy marshmallow healthcare robot aiding the citizens of San Fransokyo, specifically the ones who say “ow!”
That’s It LA joined their fellow journalists to talk about “Baymax!” to series creator Don Hall who is also the Academy Award winning director of Big Hero, producer Roy Conli, producer Bradford Simonsen, and Scott Adsit, the voice of Baymax.
1 – Revisiting Big Hero 6
Though “Baymax!” marks a second return to the world of “Big Hero 6,” it is the first time that the series of shorts is dedicated to its titular cute and cuddly heathcare robot and sometimes hero. “What I thought we could do with the series is actually just focus on Baymax and one patient at a time,” Hall said. For him, the idea was to have some fun with every patient that Baymax met along his travels across San Fransokyo. “Cirocco [Dunlap’s]’s writing and Scott’s performance and all the directors that worked on the show, something much more than what I’d envisioned at the beginning. You know, the beating heart of the show is something that is it’s real and it kinda elevated it beyond what I ever imagined.”
“ For me this is Disney at its best, heart and humor, and a lotta heart. I was so impressed with Cirocco Dunlap, our writer, who came in and totally understood the soul of Big Hero 6 and understood the soul of Baymax, for that matter,” Conli added.
“God, it was magical,” Simonsen described when asked what it was like to revisit these characters. “It was so fun ’cause we got to bring everything back. And as Cirocco was writing it, we revisited it and got super excited about the new stories and all the potential that it has. Our crew elevates everything, so as we got into it, everybody got super excited about it as well.”
2 – The key to giving Baymax heart and compassion
Baymax may be a robot, but his giant heart and his compassion makes him human. There’s no judgement. His purpose is to give the best healthcare to those who need it. Not only that, he also gets to the heart of why a patient is hurting. “He is very aware of making people feel good.
And he is in no way judgmental, which is the great thing about him. He approaches everything equally and is there only there to provide help and support and knowledge,” Adist said. “And I mean, that’s what we all aspire to be, right? And that’s what makes him so, I mean, beyond huggable, admirable. Because he is the best of all of us. The best elements that we aspire to be, he just is, effortlessly.”
“I mean, there’s sort of an innate compassion, you know, that is built into him and a relentless desire to help, which we might add for comedy purposes in the series,” Hall adds. “He is relentlessly focused on that and you can’t bump him off of that. That is his protocol and he will do it. And so, that was part of the fun of the series, is you know, taking that and looking at that from the perspective of a patient who may not want to be helped.”
3 – Favorite episode
“Baymax!” may be a series of shorts, but it has some great stories compacted into an eight to nine minute runtime. Each short sees Baymax taking care of his patients’ emotional and physical pains. So when it comes to which one of the shorts is Adsit’s favorite, Adsit said it was the one with Sophia. “Sophia is experiencing her first period at school right before a big performance in the talent show, and she is a bit panicked by this change that’s happening to her life and doesn’t know if she’s ready to make that leap into adulthood. And Baymax is there to help her understand that change is good and you don’t have to be afraid it,” he said. “The great thing about it I thought was that it was never treated as something that was to be ashamed of or to be hidden or to be anything but talked about very openly and plainly. I have my period. Oh, okay.”
4 – Disney animation opportunities
Though the “Baymax!” shorts don’t expand upon the “Big Hero 6” mythology, they are a chance for the behind-the-scenes crew to tell more individual character stories. In this case, it’s all about how Baymax’s drive to care for his patients has a greater impact than what he was originally programmed for. But it is also an opportunity for the Disney animation crew to tell more stories.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for storytellers because we’re able to discover new formats, you know. This was new territory for a lot of us. You know, we generally work on 90-minute films and we iterate and iterate and iterate for, you know, four to five years to make a film,” Conli said. “And in this, we did the same amount of iteration but because the structure is so small in comparison, we were able, and we also have six episodes going at one time, we were able to take each of these little gems and polish them to just perfection.”
“I think each little episode really tells a story that is complete. And then you take those episodes together, and there’s a big arc in the whole series, so it was a blast,” Conli added.
“That was part of the original intent actually,” Hall added. “It was to create something that could give opportunities to new directors, you know, in a short form kind of version. It allowed us to give more directing opportunities, and I’m so proud of everybody who directed on this. They just did such great work.”
5 – Meet Your Heroes
They say never meet your heroes. And for some of us, that may not be true. For others, it is. However, when you try to introduce the voice of Baymax to a four-year-old, it may be confusing.
“I’ll get parents coming with their children, come up to me, and they’ll look at me and my face and my graying beard, and they don’t know who I am,” Adsit said. “And then I do the voice for them, and they know immediately. And I think, you know, I think I’m six foot two, and I’m a lot taller than most 4-year-olds, and I think it would be intimidating or weird for this face to come down and say, you know, Baymax words to them.”
But doing the voice and seeing their reaction doesn’t escape Adsit. “And they just light up, and they get so excited, and they see right through this and hear Baymax,” he said. “And I feel like I am Baymax in that moment. It’s just very magical, and it’s a very rarified place to be, so I’m really appreciative of it.”
All episodes of “Baymax!” are available on Disney+.