Screening Series: ‘Big Hero 6’ star Ryan Potter on the movie’s melting-pot approach

Japanese American actor Ryan Potter, who voices lead character Hiro, reflects on his decision to play the young prodigy, and the message he hopes moviegoers take away after watching the film.


Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo — a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo — Disney’s animated movie “Big Hero 6” is the product of two cultures. It’s part American superhero story and part Japanese manga-inspired adventure.

Fittingly enough, the film’s young protagonist Hiro is biracial, and so is the actor who voices him, Ryan Potter. In this clip from a recent “Big Hero 6” presentation for the Envelope Screening Series, Potter talks to The Times’ John Corrigan about what it meant to play such a character.

“The other day … somebody came up and said, ‘How does it feel to be one of the first biracial Disney characters?’” recalls Potter, who spent part of his childhood growing up in Tokyo. “It kind of blew my mind. I didn’t realize until they said it.”


Hiro is actually one of a few multiracial characters in “Big Hero 6,” Potter notes, with apologies to costar T.J. Miller (the voice of Fred); Miller then quips, “This is the first movie I’ve been in where I’m the token white guy.”

Potter continues, “There’s something about this film that’s so special because it’s colorblind. You know, we don’t make a big deal about what [each character’s] ethnicity is. They don’t bring it up one time, they don’t make a joke about it one time. It’s just who they are. That’s why this film is so relatable, because if you were to take any one of these characters off the screen and put them in real life, they’d be someone you know.”

For more from cast and filmmakers of “Big Hero 6,” check back tomorrow for another clip.

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