scott adsit big hero 6A few weeks ago, Scott Adsit, whom you might remember as Liz Lemon's perpetually put-upon coworker Pete in Tina Fey's "30 Rock," was on stage at the New York Comic Con. It was during the Disney panel, when they were hyping up this month's release of the studio's new animated superhero romp "Big Hero 6," and Adsit was beaming. In fact, it seemed like he couldn't believe that he was lucky enough to voice Baymax, a squishy nurse robot who inadvertently becomes a crime-fighting warrior alongside his pint-sized owner Hiro (Ryan Potter). (Baymax was the creation of Hiro's older brother, who died tragically, so there's an additional emotional component to the cuddly robot as well.)

When we sat down and talked with Adsit, at the Disney Animation Studios, he still seemed in awe of the fact that he got to voice this character. At one point we marveled at his new second career as Baymax. When we told Adsit that "You are this character," there was a pause. "So far," Adsit shot back. Like he was joyriding in his father's car and waiting for the keys to be taken away from him.

This kind of genuine excitement and sense of responsibility ran through our conversation with Adsit, a smart, talented, deeply hilarious performer who is clearly having the time of his life with all things "Big Hero 6." During our chat, we talked about what it was like watching the character come to life, what he thinks people will ask him to say into their answering machine, his favorite on-screen robots and whether or not he'd want to return for future sequels.

Moviefone: How did you first get approached for "Big Hero 6"?

Scott Adsit: I was out in Los Angeles for pilot season, where I was auditioning for a various pilots. And I was doing a stage show one night, a show that I do in New York on a regular basis called "Celebrity Autobiography," which is celebrities reading from other celebrities' autobiographies... It's very funny... I did one night of that and the Disney casting people were in the audience and I got a call the next day and I don't know what they heard in my voice, something benign they heard in my voice, so they called me. I went into this building, the Animation Studio, and got in the booth for an hour. It was a very collaborative audition. I had never had a work session audition. It was very cool. I was really excited just to have done that. I was very satisfied and was ready to say, "Well, that was a great experience." Then I got another call. And that just blew my mind.

When you went in for that first audition, how much did you know about Baymax?

I didn't know that he was going to be so central to the plot. I'm not sure they did at that time either. They had been working on it for a good year by then, so they had a design. I've seen a lot of different designs of Baymax; he evolved quite a bit. So I did see that and seeing him as that big, white, soft guy, you can't really give him anything but a lovely, lyrical little voice that is not threatening at and and that is essentially what my voice is.

Except when you get angry.

Oh, then you don't want to know.

You are a self-professed comic-book geek. Did you read these comics? How familiar were you with this world?

Unfortunately, I had never even heard of it. And so I did some research the night before I went in for the audition, but it didn't do me any good because they changed so much about the character. In the comic he's a big fighting robot who turns into a dragon and who works as a servant to Hiro. They went to MIT and saw that robotic arm and it changed everything. So I had an idea that he would be aggressive, when I went in, which is why I was confused -- because I don't have that kind of voice. And they don't want me faking someone else doing an aggressive voice. So I didn't know what to expect. Then I saw the picture and thought, Oh, I know who this is. Then I just did it. I don't think it changed much from that audition.

What did you think the first time you saw Baymax with your voice?

Well, the first time I saw Baymax was pretty funny. They showed me a test with three different walking styles that they were auditioning. One was based on a penguin walk, which is the one they decided to go with. My first response was, "They don't even need my voice. Just let it be silent. He's adorable. I'm only going to ruin this." Then when I saw one of the climactic scenes with my voice, and sometimes it's your voice coming out of a Disney character and the first thing you think is, They've made a mistake. How can my voice fit to something so grand? But they haven't fired me yet. Because I can't believe this is happening to me.

You've become a member of a very exclusive club.

Well, I know when Tom Hanks did "Toy Story," he said, "I've won Oscars and done all of these things but the thing I will remember," and he said this when he finished "Toy Story" and saw it for the first time. And he said: "Woody is the only thing people will remember me for, and that's fine with me." That's how I feel. I've done a lot of things. I'm not a household name. But things that people know. And this will last longer than any of them.

You're a toy now too!

I am bothering people now with the toys. Because now I will sneak up and say, "Listen to this." It's pretty heady. Being a comic-book geek and an amateur toy collector, it is the culmination of a lifetime of apparently setting this up in my head.

What do you think people are going to ask you to say for their answering machine messages?

I'm sure they're going to ask me to swear as Baymax. But I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to do it. Because I respect Baymax. And beyond Disney burying me for the rest of my life in a hole somewhere in Burbank for swearing as Baymax, I don't want to. Because I really love him. I spent some time with Tom Kenny, who is a great voiceover actor. And we did a movie in Atlanta and my sister and her kids came to visit me on set and we were rained out. He got on the phone with her kids and my nephews and their friends for an hour and did SpongeBob and various other voices for an hour with such joy. I said, "I wish I had the opportunity to do this. I wish, I wish." If this is the only wish in my life that comes true, then I'm happy. It's a great thing to make kids happy.

Do you have any favorite cinematic robots? Because now you're part of this amazing pantheon of characters.

Well, we'll see.

Oh it is!

You think it is? Oh good. Well R2 and C3PO certainly. I must say I spent a lot of time drawing and sculpting K9 from "Doctor Who." And the robot from "Lost in Space." These are all very different robots. "The Iron Giant" is one of my favorite movies and I remember thinking at the time, "That would be my dream. To be part of something like that," to be a part of something of that quality and that much heart. And here I am.

Have you seen the finished movie?


What was that experience like?

I was really afraid that I would be distracted by my own voice up there. But they've altered it a slight bit and it seemed like me doing it but there is so much of the performance that is the animators that it was like I was watching something I had never seen before. It's weird because, as an actor, you've got what's going to happen in the scene and the rhythms and all of that in your head. And then you see what the animators have done and it's so much better than anything you thought of. It's weird to be inside of something so intimately and yet be surprised at every turn.

Did you cry?

Yes. Four or five times. Because, as an actor, I connect to Hiro. Baymax cares about Hiro and I have the emotional capacity to convey that, whereas Baymax doesn't. And every time Tadashi got brought up in a soulful way, I got teary. Because Hiro is feeling it. That scene with the hat on the bed, with Baymax just saying, "Tadashi?" That makes me tear up right now.

This seems like it's going to be a sizable hit. Do you anticipate sequels?

Well, I would certainly love a sequel. I would love to just see a sequel. I think that would be really, really fun. I think it's worthy of a sequel and I had such a good time making it, I would do it for the rest of my life.

What would your dream Baymax-inspired Disney attraction be?

I think a recreation of the first flight that Hiro takes with Baymax. If you could wait in line and then get on and ride Baymax around San Fransokyo, that would be really cool... like the Peter Pan ride but much faster.

"Big Hero 6" is in theaters now.

categories Interviews, Movies