We are still absolutely obsessed with Disney’s Oscar-winning animation movie ‘Big Hero 6’ so absolutely jumped at the chance to speak with its director Don Hall. We chatted about where the Oscar’s kept, working with Stan Lee, a possible sequel and so much more in our chat. Read how it all went down below…
Big Hero 6 is the second Disney film ever to win an Oscar. How does that make you feel?
Don: It feels awesome. We’re still kind of pinching ourselves a little bit, we can’t really believe that it happened. We had such a great time making this movie and obviously we never do it for awards or anything like that, you know, we do it just because we love it and because these films are special to us and hopefully it’ll be special to the audience. But the entire studio is still buzzing from it and I have to say it was so cool, the day after the Oscars we came in and did a little toast for everybody at the studio and we had people coming up wanting to hold the Oscar and the energy in the studio was just very exciting.
Do you keep the trophy in your bathroom?
Don: It’s kind of migrating at the minute as far as where I’m keeping it. Right now it’s on my nightstand, I think I want to find a place for it that’s a bit higher up because the day after the Oscars I caught my eight-year-old son putting it in his book bag and I said “What are you doing?” and he was like “I’m gonna take it to school for Show and Tell.” So I was like “No no no no no, that’s not gonna happen,” so I think I need to find a place that’s a little bit more secure?
The film is based on a comic book. How did you redesign Baymax?
Don: Well, in the comic book Baymax has different forms and in one version he’s almost like a dragon and in another version he’s almost like a typical kind of robot. So for me it was very important that we found something that was grounded in real science but also something that we haven’t seen before and I was actually really quite concerned about that, so one of the first things I did was go on a robotics research trip that took me to MIT, Harvard and I met all the top roboticists in America, actually in Japan too. I discovered this guy named Chris Atkeson who was doing research in soft robotics, which essentially is robots made of vinyl that are inflatable and they’ll be used in the healthcare industry in the future and so it was just such an epiphany seeing that technology and the whole character and persona of our Baymax came from that research trip, the idea of him being a healthcare companion came from that research trip, and his design as well so to me it’s just a testament to what research can do. You never know what you’re gonna find so that’s why we always start with research before we get too deep into story.
How long does the process of making the feel actually take?
Don: It took about three and a half years. That robotics research trip that I just described, I was doing that the week that Winnie The Pooh was released, which I directed as well, which was released here in the States in July 2011.
What was it like working with the legend that is Stan Lee?
Don: That was a pretty incredible experience. I don’t get too starstruck but that definitely made me starstruck because as a kid in the seventies, I was such a Marvel fan and Stan, before he was the cinematic idol that he is now, he was the editor in chief of all the comics and he actually did the letters page and he had a very personal relationship with the reader. I grew up kind of idolising Stan because he also designed pretty much every character in the Marvel universe so yeah, I was a little starstruck but he makes you get over that quite quickly and he’s such a fun guy who’s just filled with gusto and we just had such a great experience with him.
How does the green chip end up in the glove at the end of the movie?
Don: Well, if you look, there is a brief moment when Hiro averts his eyes from Baymax and in that brief moment Baymax took the chip out and put it in.
Lots of people said they didn’t notice that so that’s really good to know. With so many re-makes lined up, why did Disney take the chance to make a movie of a little known children’s comic?
Don: Well, it’s a testament to our process. The way we do things here is, you know, the directors work very closely with John [the Principal Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering] and the director’s job is to bring stories that we’re going to tell in animation, that’s the first part of our job, to generate the story. John likes to say it’s a director driven studio and that’s first thing. We’re cast with funny stories that we’re passionate about and he always has you pitch at least three ideas so for this one I looked into my childhood and I love Marvel comics and Disney animation and I loved the idea of mashing those two things up and John got very excited and that set me off on the journey of just researching a bunch of Marvel characters and stories until we found the perfect one and it turned out to be Big Hero 6, but it always starts with a director who has a story to tell and passion to tell that story.
Lots of fans having been asking, how did Hiro’s parents die?
Don: Yeah, I’ve heard that a lot too. I’m going to… I will not divulge that currently. You never know when you might need to tell that story. So I’m gonna say for now ‘no comment’.
Who would stand a better chance of fighting Baymax: Spiderman or Batman?
Don: I think they would both win because Baymax isn’t really a fighter, he’s more of a healer. So I think at some point he would realise that these guys have good intentions and are actually good guys so I think Baymax would probably just quit.
Aww, bless him! If you could do a Disney crossover between Big Hero 6 and any other Disney movie, which would the other movie be?
Don: Hmm, that’s a good one! I don’t know, you have stumped me. The first thing that came into my mind was ‘Wreck It Ralph’ but I don’t know, maybe that would just be such a weird, crazy, cool movie.
Will there be another Big Hero 6 movie?
Don: We’ll see. We have not had one discussion about it, believe it or not and we’re all kind of on different things right now. Chris [Williams, co-director] is on his sabbatical. I will be taking my sabbatical over the summer so, we haven’t really talked about it. We’ll probably have a chat about it in the fall and we’ll see where our heads are at.
If you could feature any celebrity in the sequel, if there is one, who would that celebrity be in the film?
Don: If I could feature any celebrity? I don’t know. Once you’ve had Stan Lee, where do you go from there? I’m trying to think who’d make a great cameo. Maybe Stan Lee again, I’ll do that.