TJ Miller and Damon Wayans Jr. talk about celebrating intelligence with 'Big Hero 6'
While Baymax, the big soft robot, is the scene-stealing star of "Big Hero 6," there's another character who very nearly beat him for my kids when we saw it. Fred, played by TJ Miller, isn't actually a student at the high tech college where Hiro Hamada, the film's main character, meets the people who eventually become the crime-fighting team with him.
Instead, Fred is a fanboy for science, unabashed in his enthusiasm about the work being done by the other characters, including Hiro, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), and Wasabi Ginger (Damon Wayans Jr.), a tireless cheerleader to the others as they work. Miller's the perfect guy for the part, and if you follow him on Twitter, you no doubt saw his non-stop bombardment of images from Disneyland this weekend, where he seemed to be having an amazing time.
When I went to the press day for "Big Hero 6," it was at the Disney Animation Building in Burbank, and the boys came with me. Allen went crazy for the movie in general, and he seemed particularly fond of Fred as a character. At one point, TJ Miller was walking through the large lobby where we were waiting, and I pointed him out to Allen, who immediately got up, walked over, and loudly proclaimed, "Hi, Fred! You're awesome!"
For the rest of the day, any time TJ saw Allen, he said hi to him or gave him a high-five, and Allen thought it was awesome. That says to me that TJ understands just how much it means to kids when they run into someone who is part of something they love, and I'm sure that as the film opens and plays around the world, there are going to be a whole lot of Allens who would love to learn that the guy who played Fred is just as much fun as the character.
Miller's also a regular on "Silicon Valley," another project that embraces the idea of intelligence as a virtue, although in a much more adult manner. I'm dying to see where that show goes when it returns next season. Miller's co-star in the film, Damon Wayans Jr., is on TV every week right now in "New Girl," and he's had a pretty good year so far with "Let's Be Cops" turning out to be a stealth hit, bigger than anyone could have predicted when it opened on an incredibly awkward weekend. I like Wayans a lot, and while we didn't get to talk about it on-camera, it made me cackle when at one point in the film, his character screams, and that scream is so clearly a Wayans that I realized it's sort of a family signature. Hilarious.
Between the two of them, I think it's clear that they're not just happy with the film, but genuinely excited by what it says and what it celebrates, and that enthusiasm is well-earned.
You'll have a chance to see if your own kids fall in love with Baymax, Fred, and the rest of the cast when "Big Hero 6" opens in theaters this Friday.