'Bolt' stars Miley Cyrus, John Travolta upstaged by a hamster?
Anyone who has a dog, a cat, any kind of pet, a friend or family member they love, or who has ever cared about anything more deeply than they care for themselves, should go see Disney's new animated family film, "Bolt."
But while Miley Cyrus is good as the voice of Penny and John Travolta's voice makes a marvelous Bolt, it's a fat little fan boy hamster named Rhino who steals every scene he's in.
A pudgy hamster who travels in a plastic ball, Rhino is a pint-sized wannabe action hero. The fervent furball is an avid watcher of Bolt's TV show.
And as Bolt's No. 1 fan, he's memorized every detail of the dog's missions and is awestruck when his canine TV hero magically shows up at his doorstep.
When Destiny calls, without a moment's hesitation (or even an invitation), Rhino gets to live out his ultimate fantasy by teaming up with superhero Bolt.
"Let it begin!!"
So what famous celebrity is the voice of Rhino?
Would you believe the voice is performed by a Disney employee/story man named Mark Walton?
Read more to find out about the behind-the-scenes Disney employee who has become the surprise hit of the film.
During the development stages of "Bolt," the filmmakers turned to story man Walton to do some scratch track recordings for the hamster.
"It was a lot of fun for me, and we all got a real kick -- especially me -- hearing my voice saying these really funny lines in the early screenings of the film, but it was generally assumed that, at some point, they would choose a professional actor to record the final voice," Walton says in the production notes. "But about a year went by, and my voice stayed in screening after screening."
Walton's unbridled energy and extrovert personality came through, making Rhino believable and even identifiable.
"Rhino needed to be such a fan boy," adds co-director Byron Howard. "And you couldn't ask for a bigger fan boy than Mark. All that enthusiasm that you hear is Mark's everyday persona. It's not put-on at all. Every time we'd hear a new recording with him, we'd just crack up."
Walton gives some insight into Rhino in the film's press notes.
"Rhino loves television and believes it's all real. Bolt is real and everything that happens on the show is real to Rhino. At the recording sessions, they didn't actually give me a giant ball to roll around in, but they would bring the storyboards and explain what is happening in each scene and what Rhino's expressions and poses might be. I would imagine myself talking to Bolt or Mittens and it wasn't too difficult to get into the role. Rhino tends to be very excited and action-oriented. He's always rolling around and trying to help. I would find myself out of breath and sweaty after several takes. Rhino's enthusiasm is infectious and it's hard not to get caught up in it all."
His path to voice-over stardom is a strange one. The Salt Lake City native started working at Walt Disney Animation Studios in the Florida division in September of 1995. Following an internship and a mall tour, he became a story apprentice on "Tarzan." He's currently serving as the visual development artist on the upcoming feature "King of the Elves."
As Rhino would say, "Awesome!"
To read more about Walton, click here for Susan King's story.
Photos: WireImage, top, and Disney Studios