Ryan Potter is the star of Big Hero 6. He provides the voice of Hiro, the main character who ultimately assembles the team of six young superheroes. Yet he’s relatively new on the film scene, having previously appeared on Supah Ninjas and guested on Fred: The Show.
So I got a one on one interview with Potter for Big Hero 6 and found out all about his background and where we can expect to see him in the future. He shared his ambitions for film school and a future behind the scenes, as well as the secrets of early drafts of Big Hero 6. Big Hero 6 opens Friday.
Nuke the Fridge: You’re the newest voice actor in this cast. How did this all come about and what is your background?
Ryan Potter: I am. I was not pursuing acting and just kind of fell into it. I worked on a Nickelodeon series for close to four years. A director I’d worked with in the past is friends with the casting director at Disney. I guess they’d been looking to cast Hiro for quite a while and they just couldn’t quite find the right voice because they wanted to cast true to his ethnicity and his character in general. My friend was like, “Well, do you know about Ryan?” So I came in, I went for the audition, I met Don and Don and I just clicked in the first audition. He made a very, very comfortable environment for me to be able to create. I think that’s why I’m sitting here now is just kind of the connection that Don and I had, and the creative side that they were so open to having me there.
Nuke: Is your family from Japan?
Ryan Potter: Yeah, I was born in Portland, OR. I was raised in Japan. My mother is Caucasian and my father is Japanese.
Nuke: And his name was Potter?
Ryan Potter: No, no, no. His name is not Potter. I like my mom’s last name better because we get all the jokes about Harry Potter.
Nuke: You’re in pretty much every scene of Big Hero 6. Did you ever have a go at doing the whole movie at once?
Ryan Potter: No, there was just so much to record that we were never able to get through the entire film in one recording session. There were some scenes that were so complex and so long that an entire six hours was spent on that one scene.
Nuke: What do you relate to about HIro?
Ryan Potter: Oh, everything. Hiro and I are the same. I lent my voice to him and I leant my heart to him. Other than that we have similar physical nuances. When we see something fun or exciting, we do this, not internal laugh because we make noise, but it’s almost to ourselves. Hiro does that throughout the film. Also just his resolve. When he sets his mind to something he has to get it done. I’m very much the same way. If there’s a goal, I just have to get it accomplished.
Nuke: If you had not been thrust into acting, what might you have pursued?
Ryan Potter: Firefighting, baseball, maybe track. I just kind of fell into it.
Nuke: Did Big Hero 6 change a lot from the first session to the final film?
Ryan Potter: It did. The very first draft is far different from what the final draft is. The film continued to evolve each time we went in for a recording session. The creators of the film got notes from John Lasseter and whoever else. They would apply those notes and do rewrites. The film just morphed and evolved into what it is now. From the very first draft, there’s only a few things that made the final cut I think.
Nuke: Did you have any favorite scenes from the early draft that you miss?
Ryan Potter: It was in the second draft. The first draft had the bot fight as the opening. I absolutely loved it, and they were like, “Maybe let’s start it with something else.” Another opening they had that I did like, I didn’t like it as much as the bot fight, but Hiro was making these rocket boots for his cat Mochi. It’s just this fun little thing where Mochi’s flying around and he’s chasing after him. There’s a flying cat when they go to the school and it’s kind of an Easter egg. It’s what could have been almost, but then they brought the bot fight back and I think the film flows and opens better that way.
Nuke: Now that you have this lead role in a Disney movie, what’s next for you?
Ryan Potter: Honestly, I’ll see what comes of it, but I’m applying for film school and I’m very serious about getting into a good film program and spending four years just being immersed in that environment and learning. For me, the end goal, I would like to direct independent films and I would like to direct music videos just because I absolutely love music but I’m not very musically inclined. That’s the end goal, but to get there I’ve got to get into film school.
Nuke: Where are you applying?
Ryan Potter: I’m applying to just a number of programs, mainly on the west coast. Just about every school in Los Angeles that has a good film program, I’m applying to. UCLA, USC, the Dodge Film Program is really great. There’s a bunch of art schools too that have great programs so I’ll be applying to just about all of those.
Nuke: Are you just out of high school?
Ryan Potter: I actually graduated this past June.
Nuke: Are you excited to see someone else play Hiro at Disneyland in the parade?
Ryan Potter: I am. It’s interesting because they had casting calls for Hiro lookalikes. I was going to go just as a joke and do the audition, but I ended up being busy that day. I’m so excited to see something that I guess I was a part of in Disneyland. I spent my fist birthday in Tokyo Disneyland. Disneyland is almost a second home to me. I’m a big Disney fan so it’s going to be very surreal.
Nuke: Growing up in Japan, did you notice any Easter eggs in San Fransokyo that are really specific to Japan?
Ryan Potter: Absolutely. I think the one that stood out to me the most was in Japan at train stations, they have these standup restaurants. There’s only four spots at the counter and it’s very quick, because these businessmen whether they’re going to work or coming back from work, they’re hungry so they gotta grab a quick bite to eat before they get on a train. There’s a few of these standup restaurants. Whenever you see the train, look for them, whether it’s a train stop or along the path, you’ll see there’s people standing up and eating. I thought that was very cool.