Northbrook’s Scott Adsit stars in ‘Big Hero 6’

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Actor and comedian Scott Adsit grew up in Northbrook and from there jumped into the world of improv comedy at Chicago’s Second City.

While he has appeared in dozens of TV shows and big-screen films, the performer is best known for his supporting roles. But with “Big Hero 6,” the big Disney animated film (opening Friday), Adsit is voicing one of the film’s key characters — something he finds a bit daunting but very pleasurable.

“I guess it’s my face that’s been holding me back!” the quick-witted comic and “30 Rock” alum quipped when asked about playing the lead. He went on to say that the other day he was flying into Los Angeles, “and just as we were landing, I could see Baymax from outside my plane — plastered on a huge billboard that covered the entire side of a building. It was  a nice welcome. Good to see a friendly face.”

Baymax is Adsit’s character, the inflatable, plus-size, snowman-like robot caregiver who bonds with techie whiz Hiro Hamada. The two pals and a bunch of Hiro’s buddies eventually go off and become a band of young superheroes.

While Baymax was inspired by the Marvel comic book character, Adsit explained that the “Big Hero 6” team took him in a totally different direction after they visited the joint robotics project by MIT, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon universities.

“In the comics, Baymax is this warrior character. But when [the team] were at the robotics lab, they saw this inflatable arm. Everything inside was built using these inflatable tubes. Even the skeleton was soft and inflatable,” explained Adsit. “It could cradle things and was soft and was designed to eventually care for people who needed flesh-to-flesh-like contact. … These things will someday be aiding in nursing. They will be used for lifting people in and out of bed.”

That discovery made the “Big Hero 6” team  redirect their ideas for the film. “It became about Baymax being a caregiver, and that’s what drives the story,” said Adsit.

Since Baymax is a character that seems so huggable, Adsit hasn’t been surprised by the reaction when people meet him now, knowing he voiced the character.

“I’ve been getting a lot of hugs from people who have been to early screenings of the film. People really want to hug me. They are very generous with their hugs, but I do sense a slight tinge of disappointment when they discover I’ve got bones.”

Along with “Big Hero 6,” Adsit is in another movie that is getting a lot of attention this fall: “St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.

“I went to see it the other night,” said Adsit with a laugh. “I’m in it, but all my scenes with dialogue were cut. I’m a presence who is talked about a lot, since I play Melissa’s ex-husband and the father of the kid. I’m kind of a villainous off-screen presence in much of the early part of the film, but by the end you see I’m not such a bad guy.

“Of course, I was a guy who did sleep with a bunch of people he shouldn’t have! … It’s strange and lovely arc of a character — for a guy who doesn’t say a word!”

Fortunately, that’s very different in “Big Hero 6.”

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