In this interview, we sit down and chat with Damon Wayans Jr. (voice of “Wasabi”) and T.J. Miller (voice of “Fred”), as we discuss almost passing on the part of a lifetime, having the creative freedom to make each character your own, and the superpowers we wish we had. Follow #BigHero6 for more interviews and behind the scenes information celebrating this great movie's upcoming release Nov. 7th, 2014.
Interview: Big Hero 6 Damon Wayans Jr. and TJ Miller
Q: What is it that said to you, I got to do this.
TJ Miller: I would, my story is a little interesting because I haven’t told this all yet so this is an exclusive for you guys but yeah, scooping this uninteresting story. But my Voice Over Agent called me and said Disney’s doing this thing called “Big Hero 6” and it was right when I was at a point where I’ve worked sort of compulsively. I have a very strong work ethic and I was trying to pair down the stuff that I was doing so I said I can’t do it, you’ve got to tell them I can’t audition, I can’t do anything with the movie. And he was like I really think you should consider doing this.
It wouldn’t take a ton of time. And I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m already doing a TV Show cause in my mind, I thought it was like another television show or it was some small DVD Project or something. How wrong was I? And then he called back the next day and he said, they’re really, really interested in you for the part. They really want you to do the movie and it’s gonna be like a big thing for Disney. And I was like I can’t do it, and I was at my terrible girlfriend’s house at the time. I can’t – I can’t step away to do this.
And then he called back a 3rd time the next day and said, can you just record something on your iPhone? And I go OK, fine, yes all right. I think I went into her weird walk in closet and recorded this thing. As I looked at it on the iPhone, I did it once or twice and I added some funny lines to it and I just sent it in and I was like Fine, Fine, Fine. And you know, months later as Damon’s discussed how insanely long this process is, they said, so you’re gonna do ‘Big Hero 6’. And I was like Great-What is it?
And he’s said, it’s Disney’s huge tentpole movie after “Frozen.” And I think part of it was that he wanted to make me not get nervous. I don’t really get that nervous but he just wanted me to do just the read if I could. So I booked it off an iPhone.
Damon Wayans: It’s just why didn’t he lead with that?
TJ Miller: I know. Then I would have been like, I’ll fly to you now. Disney’s influenced all of our lives.
Q: I saw that you have a tendency to kind of going off the rails sometimes. Is that you in the studio and do you get a chance to kind of riff a lot?
TJ Miller: Totally. They were so cool about that. They sort of told us thank you for partnering with us on this, not thank you for being an employee or working on this. Disney has that feel as a company, as a studio.
Damon Wayans: We want it to be your voice, we want it to be your comedy and do the weird stuff that you do and riff and take it in any direction. And they provide you with such a great foundation, such good writing, such good stories, such great characters so it’s easy to riff off of those whereas it’s difficult to riff off of Pete Holmes and Jeff Garlin. But it was very much that experience of a Podcast like I could go anywhere that my voice could take me in my weird strange mind.
So that’s Fred Angels and Mi Casa is French for Front Porch.
Q: I have a question. I watch you in your role every week. And it was obviously, clearly, a completely different character. Do you find any similarities in Wasabi and if so, what is your favorite thing about him that you got to put yourself into?
Damon Wayans: Similarities between me and Wasabi-we’re both a little neurotic, a little OCD. I definitely am like him in that everything should be in its place. I’ve always been like that since I was young.
But aside from that I’m not like him. I’m a lot more brave than he is. I’m also not a cartoon. [LAUGHTER] But it was a great experience to kind of be that guy who’s a little more apprehensive than most in going into these dangerous situations.
Q: In the Movie, Fred sort of jumps.
Damon Wayans: Super jumps.
Q: Super jumps and I know that he’s super excited and I noticed that throughout the Movie, he would point out. I saw it almost as satire poking fun at the Super Hero genre which oh it’s a Revenge Plot and there’s a Super Villain chasing you. What makes Big Hero 6 rise above your typical Super Hero Movie?
TJ Miller: Well I think that, I am a human cartoon. I think there’s something great about that self reverential thing that Disney does so well cause in a lot of television and stuff now, there’s this cynicism to like right? What if we were actually doing this thing and Fred is kind of like “we're actually doing this thing” because he's so excited that this is our origin story. I read something “that was our first landing together”. He's so excited about all this. And that's what I think- the topics that are a little bit more difficult like revenge and loss and grief and death is balanced really well with comedy and heart that Disney can do better than anyone else.
And Marvel is so great with action and superhero through line but there's a lot of wish fulfillment in this movie. I think even as adults we think about what would be our super power and what does it take to become a hero and how do you overcome loss and there's just a lot of themes that are dealt with here that aren't dealt with in every comic book or superhero story and this kind of got it all. That's like what I'm so excited about to see people go whoa- this has 50 elements to it and they're all handled well, that are balanced out with some pretty good comedy from Damon and then some fairly mediocre stuff from me.
Damon Wayans: I also love the idea that these characters are normal human beings and what makes them Superheroes is their minds. Hiro making all these special suits for these guys. They're not from a Planet Farkinon or somewhere that gives them their powers.
TJ Miller: And radiation.
Damon Wayans: Yeah, it wasn't a Spider bite. It was just these guys and their will, and their ingenuity combined with their costumes. But I really love that. I love, it kind of being about you're superhero of your mind first.
TJ Miller: And your Super power is Tech.
Damon Wayans: Yeah.
TJ Miller: And work ethic, and like you said, ingenuity. That's something all kids can go “whoa, well maybe I can build a robot like Baymax or maybe I can do something to help the world”.
Damon Wayans: Definitely planting the seed for the next Generation coming up.
Q: I love the fact that Fred, it wasn't his mind that got him into this group. He's like everybody's friend. And it's like he's Mascot by Day, Mascot by Night, like that's his role, you know, but he's there, he names everybody. He's there but he's included with all of, you know, everybody that's super smart and has created all these Super and he gets his own, and he's important as anybody else.
Damon Wayans: I feel like he's definitely the glue. He's the guy that keeps them kind of all together. I feel like people in tech tend to be very set in solitude.
TJ Miller: Introverted.
Damon Wayans: Introverted like you're just kind of obsessed.
TJ Miller: Isolated a little bit.
Damon Wayans: With what's in front of you. So he's the one that tells them all right, put that down for a little bit and live your life.
TJ Miller: That's a great point that I hadn't even thought of. That's how layered and dense Disney's stories are. He is the Mascot in the sense that he cheerleads everybody into sort of let's have the courage to do this.
Let's go for it. Look at how cool this is. I love that line where I'm like, “look at how cool is that, we're being perceived as s Superhero”. I mean, it's very scary but it's cool and I think his brilliance. I think this is my intelligence because I was never great at Science or Math or Technology. His ingenuity in naming each person and his social intelligence to make everybody feel comfortable. He has the EQ, and you know, instead of the IQ. Him being sweet helps add a little bit of levity even when he's saying if I had a Super Power, I would crawl through the screen and give you a big hug.
Q: So if each of you could think of a super power, what would it be?
TJ Miller: Lately, I've been saying, I would want the power to kiss my own elbows because nobody can do that. I mean, I don't know if you guys have ever tried. It's impossible. So if I could do that, I could bet with people and win a lot of bets and it would just be like a fun party trick and so Conan O'Brien said I was aiming low but I don't think that's true.
Damon Wayans: I saw that actually, you know, that was very funny.
Q: And what about for you?
Damon Wayans : To be able to grow my hair to whatever length I can at will. [LAUGHS] At a moment's notice. All I have to do is go [MAKES SOUND] Poof yeah, and it just becomes long, a tangled mess.
About Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 is directed by Chris Williams and Don Hall, produced by Roy Conli, and features the talent of Ryan Potter (voice of “Hiro Hamada”), Scott Adsit (voice of “Baymax”), Damon Wayans Jr. (voice of “Wasabi”), T.J. Miller (voice of “Fred”), Genesis Rodriguez (voice of “Honey Lemon”), Jamie Chung (voice of “Go Go Tomago”). Big Hero 6 opens in theaters everywhere Nov. 7th, 2014.