My guess is that playing a robot has to be challenging. I mean, how much emotion and personality can you interject into such a character? Well, for Scott Adsit, he decided the challenge was worth taking… and he did it well!
Scott Adsit is Baymax
Baymax, the Personal Healthcare Companion in Big Hero 6, is already a fan favorite. In fact, he was named Most Huggable Character of 2015 on National Hugging Day™. That’s a pretty big deal, right?! Scott’s job in the recording booth was to give Baymax a voice. Upon seeing a picture of the character, he knew immediately that the voice needed to be “soft and huggable,” so he found a very “benign bedside manner voice“.
The sound crew then took Scott’s voice and added a robotic filter over it until the found just the right combination. John Lasseter would listen to each variation and have them dial back the filter and try again. It actually got to the point where there was no filter, just Scott’s voice. Apparently what he was doing naturally worked well. Before recording they decided on a combo of his voice and a filter… but, by the end of the movie, the filter was gone. The very last scene is all Scott’s voice with no filter. It truly adds to the emotional aspect of the scene.
Not to mention, Scott gave us a bit of insight into how he was able to invite emotion from the audience with a character without an emotional life. He’s a robot. Yet, Adsit was able to “lean on either side of him [Baymax] just a little bit” to pull the audience in. He admitted that much of the projection of the Personal Healthcare Companion’s feelings was through the audience. Watch the movie and try NOT to see Baymax feel for Hiro as he treats him as his patient. It’s such an amazing relationship to watch. And despite any predetermined decision to not infer feelings, Baymax’s emotional life still creeps in here and there.
Speaking of not being human, if you have seen the movie or even the trailer, you may recall the part where Baymax is running out of energy? In short, he begins to run low on battery and basically, in non-robot form, appears to be a bit tipsy. This also introduced a new facet of Baymax’s character into the movie, and for Scott, a new challenge. The straight-line voice of his robotic character took a much different turn. In fact, Scott was told to play an over-the-top drunk for that scene.
Another demanding scene was when Baymax and Hiro had to say good-bye to each other. Scott said he actually got pretty emotional during the recording and had to stop to regain his composure. He could feel his own feelings building inside him for Hiro, for Ryan even. He was invested in his character, as well as the others, and it was a tough scene to get through. It seems even Personal Healthcare Companions have a soft side.
Although he had a script and was given plenty of direction, Scott Adsit was also given some creative license with his lines. He knew the direction that needed to the scene needed to go and then could say whatever he wanted to bring it to life. Oh, by the way, that infamous fist bump and saying to go along with it, “Ba-la-la-la-la,” is all his creation.
In the end, I was curious how this “silent hero” may have changed him, Scott Adsit, as a person. His response was perfect:
“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. You can walk off and say, ‘Ah, that was great.’ And people think I’m great. That’s part of the reward of that. With this, it is bigger than me. 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. And I’m just lucky enough to be kind of the character. But, when we talk about Baymax, it’s not me. It’s everyone who worked on it — who decided how he walks and how he blinks — all of that.”
Wow! I love hearing how this one movie, this one robotic character, could touch so many people… especially the man behind the voice. Oh, and watch this fun “interview” we did with Baymax:
Isn’t he just too amazing?
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