13 years after Finding Nemo swam into theaters (okay, that’s my one and only fish pun), Dory, Marlin and Nemo will return on June 17 in Finding Dory. This movie turns its attention to the origin and family of Dory, the regal tang who helped reunite Marlin with his son despite her short-term memory loss. Some of the team behind the film gathered in Beverly Hills last week to discuss the long-awaited sequel.
In the first part of the press conference, the film’s co-writer and director Andrew Stanton sat down with producer Lindsey Collins. They spoke first about the more than decade long gap between this film and its predecessor:
Stanton: The real truth is that I was just never expecting to go back…. So suddenly I was watching the movie again–cause I hadn’t watched it in years–in 2011 to see the 3-D version, and I walked out very worried about Dory. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how she needed closure.
Collins: I think you were, as a writer and as a filmmakers, you were like “How could I have left her incomplete?” So it started bugging him, and then we kept it to ourselves for a while, and then when we felt like we really wanted to do it, we went to John Lasseter and said “We have this idea…”
Stanton and Collins also discussed the emotional goals of the film, and the personal journey that they wanted to see Dory take:
Stanton: I always knew that the film was going to be about her accepting herself. It was going to be under the tent of self-acceptance; it was the specificity of that–it took a long time to really really nail down what exactly we are saying about that. The premise I ultimately came with is that you are not at peace until you truly can accept who you are. I think that [Dory] was always going to be unsettled until she experienced what it was like to succeed on her own completely.
Collins: I think we also felt as though she needed to kind of grant herself the same grace that she feels like she grants everybody else, and I mean that only in that she kind of apologizes for herself. Always it’s her first sentence: “I’m sorry, I suffer from short-term memory loss.” And she never expects anybody to apologize for themselves…. So the fact that she as a character was not giving herself that same grace, it was like “How do we get her to that place? And who grants that to her? and [Stanton] was like “The only person that can grant that to her is herself.”
Finally, they spoke on the technological challenge of creating the character of Hank, an octopus voice by Ed O’Neil, and the time it took to bring such a legendary species to life through animation:
Collins: They knew that if we were going to do this, we needed to make this character literally a jack of all trades: get anywhere, get in anywhere. Which meant that, true to life, there was no skeletal structure so it had to be able to smoosh down to the smallest space and then expand. It took two years to make that character; our usual characters take about six months.
Stanton: It took six months just to animate the first shot of him.
In the second part of the event, the voice actors took the stage. Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), Ed O’Neil (Hank), Albert Brooks (Marlin), Hayden Rolence (Nemo), Ty Burrell (Bailey), Kaitlin Olson (Destiny) and Eugene Levy (Charlie) were all present.
Rolence discussed taking over the role of Nemo, who was originally voice by Alexander Gould in the 2003 film:
Rolence: I was a big Finding Nemo fan even before Finding Dory, even before I knew that I was going to be in Finding Dory, so I just really loved the role of Nemo and I never thought that I would be able to actually play him. I was sort of a little bit nervous at first because he’s already a character and I was taking over this character that everybody loves and I wanted to do Nemo justice.
DeGeneres discussed her long and famous campaign to get a sequel for Finding Nemo:
DeGeneres: It just seemed like it was obvious: the film was an iconic film, it won an Academy Award, it was great. I was a small part of it, I wasn’t campaigning to have a sequel for Dory, I was just campaigning for a sequel to a great movie. And then when it didn’t happen for the first, oh, five or six year, I decided to just make a joke of it. It seemed like it was never going to happen, so I just continued to joke about it. And then the joke became a reality and it became about Dory’s journey.
Burrell talked a bit about the weaknesses of the film’s characters and how they work together to solve problems in the movie:
Burrell: I feel like there’s sort of a theme in the movie that also includes Dory that [Destiny] can’t see and Bailey, his radar is all messed up, and Dory can’t remember, but somehow friendship can make you complete. I feel like their relationship in the institute was sort of about that them trying to take care of each other.
Finally, DeGeneres talked about the traits of Dory’s that she would like to see in herself, and why she thinks Dory is such an iconic and lovable character:
DeGeneres: Optimism and perseverance and non-judgment. Not having any resentment or holding onto anger. She doesn’t feel like a victim. I think that’s why she’s such a lovable character than Andrew [Stanton] created. She just thinks everything is possible, and she never for a second thinks that anything’s wrong with anybody else or herself. She just keeps swimming. I’d like to have all of those traits.
Finding Dory comes to theaters on Friday, June 17. Check back soon for my review of the film.