AS a visual development artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios, Mark Walton normally toils far from public view. His cubicle, located in a remote corner of the studio here, is a rat’s nest of old newspapers, geek memorabilia and garbage. Human resources once got involved, but Mr. Walton won; the giant troll statue stayed.
So it was a bit disconcerting recently for Mr. Walton, 40, to find himself on display in Roy Disney’s former office, a rarified space built inside a giant version of the sorcerer’s hat from "Fantasia." Nervous and fidgety, Mr. Walton was giving an interview under SWAT-team surveillance from Disney publicists. The subject: "Bolt," the studio’s coming film about a dog who mistakenly thinks he has superpowers.
Mr. Walton is the unlikely voice of Rhino, an overweight, television-obsessed hamster who is shaping up to be the film’s breakout character. (Sorry, Bolt.) Described in the script as “rolling thunder” because he is both excitable and confined to a plastic exercise ball, Rhino gets most of the laughs. Test audiences loved the character so much that Disney is playing him up in the marketing campaign.
Mr. Walton is so thrilled that he can barely contain himself, but it’s not because an average guy like him is getting more attention than John Travolta, who provides the voice of Bolt.
“Who cares about fame and fortune?” he said, clenching his fists in excitement and waiving them in the air. “I’m going to be a plush animal.”