• Fri, Mar 20 2009

Q&A with Nathan Greno and Mark Walton from “Super Rhino”

nathan-greno mark-walton

I had the opportunity to participate in a Virtual Roundtable about the new Disney short “Super Rhino”. “BOLT” is coming out on Blu-ray (a combo pack!) on March 22nd and on standard DVD March 24th. On the Blu-ray and DVD is a short film entitled “Super Rhino” and it’s so funny!

The virtual roundtable was a Q&A session with Nathan Greno (the director of Super Rhino) and Mark Walton (the voice of Rhino). Rhino has become such a popular character from BOLT and definitely seem to steal the show. It was great to be able to ask these guys questions about the new short and Rhino himself.

Q: When did you get the idea to do the "Super Rhino" short for the DVD? How long did it take to make it?

Nathan Greno: When I was finishing up as story supervisor on bolt — John Lasseter asked for short pitches for the DVD.  I pitched the idea of Rhino getting Bolt’s power’s. John was onboard and asked me to start developing the idea. The schedule was very tight, I believe we finished the entire short in 3-4 months (the crew was still finishing Bolt at the time!).

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Q: (For Mark) Rhino is supposed to be a lot like you. Was there a portion of the movie that was unusually hard for you to do, or where you had the hardest time doing it "in character"?

Mark Walton: Actually, most of the time, it was pretty easy – the directors pretty much just wanted me to be myself as much as possible (well, if I happened to be a hamster). The hardest part for me, I think, was just enunciating, speaking clearly and not too slowly – I sound pretty mumbly and unintelligible in normal life, but I tried to step up my game for Rhino, and having the editors choose the best takes of every line reading (sometimes 60 for a single line) helped too!

Q: (For Mark) Was it hard to do the singing part in the short? How familiar did you have to get with the collected works of Miley Cyrus to prepare for it?

Mark Walton: (laughs) Well, I had to listen to that "Best of Both Worlds" song over and over, but as it turned out, what was funnier was Rhino singing a really bad version of the song that wasn’t quite accurate. I actually did the song several times before they got me to sing it bad enough, so I guess that was a challenge. It was fun, though!

Q: Could you tell us about the success of the film BOLT? Were you pleased with its overall reception?

Mark Walton: The reception was really gratifying – lots and lots of positive reviews (an unusually high "rotten tomatoes" rating), the Academy Award nomination, an Annie nomination for me – it was awesome. Hopefully even more people will watch the DVD.

Q: Will SUPER RHINO be theatrically screened so that it can be considered for the Best Short Oscar?

Mark Walton: Sadly, no, but hey – if millions and millions and millions of people buy the DVD, that will be the best award of all. :)

Q: Is there going to be some kind of sequel/spinoff of Bolt?

Mark Walton: Well, there is the Rhino short on the DVD/ Bluray, which is cool, but I hope there’s more! Write a letter! I need the money! ;) Seriously, I really love performing Rhino, and it would be great to do more.

Q: A question to Nathan, is Rhino going to have his own movie?

Nathan Greno: No plans right now — but you never know! When we were making the movie we had no idea there was going to be a short!Bolt_Photo_02

Q: How long did it take to make this short?

Mark Walton: I’m told it took 3 – 4 months. Crazy, huh?

Q: What made you decide to build a short around Rhino?

Nathan Greno: I wanted to do something different and unexpected — Rhino with Bolt’s powers fit the bill.

Q: What is that blobby thing on Rhino’s side? Is it supposed to represent something like Bolt’s lightning bolt, or is it just a different colored patch of fur?

Mark Walton: I think it’s just a patch of darker fur, but Rhino, delusional as ever, equates it to Bolt’s lightning bolt mark, linking him (in his mind) even more closely to his hero.

Q: For Mark: Any future plans for Rhino, like a spin-off sequel perhaps?

Mark Walton: Your mouth to Bob Iger’s ear! I don’t know of anything yet, but one can hope. :)

Q: For Nathan and Mark, What is your favorite Bolt scene, and why?

Nathan Greno: It’s hard to pick a favorite! I love the "fake" TV ending — it’s really goofy and unexpected. It’s also really heartbreaking to watch Bolt return to the set only to find Penny has "replaced" him. I’m really proud of what we did with that scene.

Mark Walton:  For me, I really like the escape from the animal shelter – the writing, the designs of the guards, the animation, the voice performances, all came together in top form (plus, I got to sing!) I also love the bit where Bolt thinks that Penny has "moved on" and he drops the carrot – it chokes me up just writing about it!

Q: For Mark, The DVD has video of the animators rolling down the hallways of the studio in a giant inflatable hamster ball. Did you do it, and what did you learn from doing it that you brought into the movie?

Mark Walton: I did a commercial for the Movie Surfers, where I had to go through an obstacle course multiple times in the Zorb. I learned that I’m really glad that voice actors don’t actually have to do all the things that the animators can make their characters do, or that a live actor does in a movie! It was hot and exhausting and I fell out of the ball a couple of times and messed up my back! But I’m fine now. ;)

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Q: Mark, What did you bring to the character of Rhino? How did you manage to make him that crazy (in the greatest sense)?

Mark Walton: Well, I just tried to imagine how I would feel if the character of my favorite book or movie showed up, in the flesh, at my door to take me on an adventure – how would I feel? How would I act? (Ecstatic and slightly crazy) Luckily, the writing for Rhino was so good, I felt like it was easy to know how to act, and the directors helped coach me a lot. I guess there’s something about my voice and my laugh that some people liked, but so many people – the writers, animators, modelers, etc. did so much to bring Rhino to life, I feel like I was just the cherry on top.

Q: Nathan, what did Miley Cyrus think of the Hannah Montana parody?

Nathan Greno: Miley was incredibly easy to work with — she’s very enthusiastic and professional. I haven’t heard her reaction to the finished short — but I’m sure she’ll laugh. She has a great sense of humor.

Q: Nathan, how much can you speak about Rapunzel without putting our lives at risk? :-)

Nathan Greno: I couldn’t be happier with the direction Rapunzel is headed. It’s a very smart, funny comedy. Stay tuned!

Q: Mark, What did you like the most about Rhino?

Mark Walton: I really like how Rhino is comfortable in his own skin – he’s enthusiastic and crazy, and he worships Bolt, and he doesn’t care if anyone else approves or understands or likes his crazy laugh – if he was an evil jerk, that could be a problem, but I think his love of Bolt and his enthusiasm are contagious. Plus, he doesn’t ever seem to let his physical limitations get in the way of doing what he needs to do – for a hamster in a ball, he does some pretty amazing things!

Q: Nathan, Are there any future plans for the awesome Rhino?

Nathan Greno: You never know! While we were working on BOLT we had no idea there was going to be a Rhino short! Time will tell.

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Q: Mark, how did you come up with the voice for Rhino? Was it based on any one?

Mark Walton: I’m pretty much just doing my voice, my personality. I mean, I hope I have a slightly stronger grip on reality than Rhino does, but we’re both pretty enthusiastic about the people and things we’re interested in, and un-self-conscious about how we come across to others. I tried doing what I thought was a hamster voice when I first auditioned, but the directors (who know me) told me to just be myself as much as possible. I do have other friends who are really into Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, Disney, animation, etc, and I suppose I thought about them a little when Rhino was being really obsessive, but it’s mostly me.

Q: Mark, have you met Miley Cyrus and did you get her autograph?

Mark Walton: I did meet Miley Cyrus! This young woman at the studio suddenly shouted at me from down the hall, and was complimenting my performance, and I thought she was sweet – and then someone asked if we wanted a picture together, and I didn’t realize until she came up right next to me it was her! She seemed really nice. I didn’t have time to get her autograph, but I got a nice picture with her!

Q: Mark, How did Miley Cyrus feel about Rhino doing Best of Both Worlds?

Mark Walton: Frankly, I’m afraid she was consumed by jealousy and a serious inferiority complex – I can’t blame her, it’s gotta be hard to see the writing on the wall. No, seriously, I’m not sure if she’s seen the finished film with my singing yet, but I’m sure my (purposely) bad version of the song makes her look even better by comparison.

Q:  Mark, what are you and Nathan working on now?

Mark Walton: Actually, I’m really busy promoting the Bolt DVD/Blu-ray these days – Rhino is going to be doing TV interviews next, so that’s pretty fun! Nathan is directing Rapunzel for Disney, which takes up all of his time, I imagine. ;)

Source & Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

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