Disney fans may not know actor David Danipour by just his name, but any guest who has experienced Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is familiar with his work. Danipour is the scientist from the Flight of Passage pre-show video who said the infamous “And, uh, fly” line that has spawned countless memes, jokes, t-shirts and more.
Danipour recently went to /r/WaltDisneyWorld and answered questions from Reddit users about his role and career. We’ve selected some of the most interesting responses and highlighted them below, including how he auditioned for the role, whether the memorable line was scripted and if he’s ever ridden Flight of Passage.
Q: Your line “and uh, fly” has become quite a meme in the Disney fan community. Was it scripted exactly as that? Were you given direction on how to read that line?
Danipour: No, that line was not scripted that way. I just sort of discovered it on the day. Imagineering folks are very creative people so they would give me some creative freedom’s as well. I do remember when we discovered that line, they did like it.
I was just given one script but on the day the script was constantly modified to fill certain time constraints. So constantly, chunks were switched from here to there throughout the day. I believe it’s because they needed different takes for different wait times. So if a wait time is short, you get less preshow.
Q: What inspired you to play the role?
Danipour: So the role was listed as a “grad student.” And I just remember, while attending university, there would be TAs (teacher assistants) that would be brilliant at science and know all the answers but have a little trouble articulating the science partly because of excitement and partly because of a lack of knowing how to translate something scientific and filled with jargon into something a layperson can understand.
Q: How many times have you ridden the ride?
Danipour: Thanks for asking, short answer is I’ve never been on the ride. Longer answer is that I live in LA so it’s quite a trip to Orlando. I did show interest with the company folks in seeing the attraction when it opened, but the they never followed up with that, so I’ve yet to visit. Would still like to visit when it’s safely reopens.
Q: So I’ve got to know… Was the “uh” scripted or did you improvise?
Danipour: The uhs and umms were not in the script. But NOT all the takes that were shot had “uhs” and “umms”. So it was edited together intentionally, I’m assuming in an effort to portray the character as someone who is not experienced at public speaking about science to lay people.
Another aspect to appreciate about this is that the entire preshow had the audio recorded with ADR. ADR is when you dub the voice after it’s been recorded. Now usually you just ADR a couple lines here or a couple lines there, because of police sirens or misplaced microphone or something that messed up that line. So one day they I get a call and they say that, ‘the audio doesn’t work, we need to ADR the ENTIRE thing.’ So not only did I dub it all, but they also wanted an “increased energy” so my voice probably doesn’t match my face, which probably provokes an “Uncanny Valley” sort of feeling that something is just off. At least that’s what it does to me when I’ve seen the youtube clips in the past.
So back to the umms…during the dubbing session, they wanted me to really land the Umms and Uhhs so those also probably give off an ‘uncanny valley’ feeling as well.
Q: Did you have any interaction with Imagineers or the Avatar production team for the pre-show shoot or did they just give you a script?
Danipour: Yes, the Imagineering folks are the best, one of kind creative people. We had many meetings before the actual shoot. I believe it was shot mainly with Imagineering people and less so with those involved in making the Avatar movie, although I believe there was much collaboration between the two.
Q: Did you watch any other attraction pre-shows (Dinosaur, Mission Space, old Test Track, etc.) from other Disney attractions to kind of get an idea of how your pre-show would be used?
Danipour: I did not watch any other pre-show. Mainly because it was discussed that it would be much different than previous preshows. They wanted the character to be less polished than the other preshows that are at the park. It’s supposed to be a live-feed from the equivalent of some research base in Antarctica, and this character is just excited to be talking to people and also doesn’t have as much experience explaining science to laypeople. I think it would be cool if they let me do an actual live feed one day.
Q: What was it like to work with Joe Rohde and James Cameron?
Danipour: I’ve never met James Cameron, but it would be an honor to meet him one day. I enjoyed many of his films as a youth as a teenager and as an adult. Some of his movies hold up all the way through, which is incredible. Joe Rohde was great to work with, he’s a combination of very creative and encouraging from what I remember on set.
Q: How elaborate was the set? And how much context did you have on the ride during the shoot?
Danipour: The set was great. It’s shot through I think, a fish eye type lens, that’s supposed to give the feeling of a computer cam. So you don’t see the whole set they built behind but it was immersive. Gave you the feeling that you were really in a lab. And shout out to the background actors, they were there the whole day on set and gave a lot of life to the lab.
You can read all of Danipour’s responses in their entirety over at /r/WaltDisneyWorld.