Interview with Khary Payton on ‘Big Hero 6 and ‘The Walking Dead’

BIG HERO 6 (Disney Channel/Todd Wawrychuk) KHARY PAYTON

Posted on Monday, November 27, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his MyAJC Radio & Talk blog

Georgia native and actor Khary Payton possesses a sonorous voice, deep and rich, wrapping you like a warm blanket. That’s one reason why he gets so much voice-over work for both animated series and video games. From “Teen Titans” to “The Sims 3” to “Batman: Arkham City,” he has more than 100 credits to his name.

He recently landed a choice role in the Disney XD series “Big Hero 6,” based on the 2014 animated hit film of the same name, as Wasabi, replacing a very busy Damon Wayans Jr. They have already taped nearly 50 episodes.

“Wasabi is this OCD control freak who’s not really that interested in being a hero,” Payton said. “He starts to get a little adrenaline rush from the excitement when he goes into hero mode. He’s a fun character, a reluctant hero.”

He relates: ” I don’t want to risk my bones for no reason. But at the same time, there’s nothing like a good adrenaline rush.”

 

BIG HERO 6 – Slated to debut in 2017, Disney XD’s upcoming animated series “Big Hero 6,” based on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award-winning feature film inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, continues the adventures and friendship of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro and his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax. Together with their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred, they form the legendary superhero team Big Hero 6. (Disney XD)
WASABI, HONEY LEMON, HIRO, BAYMAX, GO GO, FRED

RELATED: My interview with Payton after he debuted as King Ezekiel

Payton, a 45-year-old Augusta native who grew up in Athens, also has the chops as a live-action actor, though that has taken a bit more time to build on his resume. And “The Walking Dead” has given him by far his most prominent role to date. Donning fake dreads and putting on Shakespearean airs, his zookeeper character saved a tiger, then created a post-apocalypse where he became King Ezekiel. Payton’s character, though, is broken this season after the enemy mowed down most of his military men and women and he watched his beloved tiger die protecting him. He returned to the Kingdom broken and bereft.

“Honestly, he’s a mess,” said Payton. “He’s a wreck. It’s going to take a lot for him to come back from this. But that’s what ‘The Walking Dead’ is about. Find yourself in dire circumstances and how do you pull yourself out of them.”

At least Carol and Jerry survived. “Honestly, if Cooper [Andrews] and Melissa [McBride] weren’t there anymore, it would be just awful.”

And how about his crush on Carol? Will that ever be consummated? Payton chuckled. “I don’t know. Right now we’re preoccupied with walkers and bullets flying overhead. Truth is, I don’t know. The show is notorious in stringing you along. I literally have no clue.”

Khary Payton as Ezekiel – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Ezekiel losing Shiva was brutal enough. “It’s kind of a callback to when he first jumped into the cage to save her,” he said. “He jumped in not knowing if he’d be alright. He risked it. She jumped into that creek to protect him. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to get back out. It really hurts Ezekiel. He didn’t do this to protect himself. He started that beautiful society as a way to protect the people around him. He feels really guilty that somehow he’s the one who survived. [His people actually jumped on top of him to save him.] He is like Lieutenant Dan in ‘Forrest Gump’. I was supposed to take the bullet. ”

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