As part of our #FindingDoryEvent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we had the pleasure of talking with the filmmakers, Director Andrew Stanton and Producer Lindsey Collins, all about Dory’s story and creating her very own movie.
As I shared in the Dory’s Story post, Director Andrew Stanton had no interest in making a sequel to Finding Nemo unless there was a real story to tell. But eventually, he realized that there WAS indeed a real story to tell! “I got this notion about Dory and her being lost and having the potential to be lost all over again. I just felt like ‘Oh, that’s sort of bugging me.’ I remember the next thought I had once I realized, ‘Oh, I think I’ve got a story here. I go, I can’t tell anybody. I mean, if I tell anybody, the horse will never get back in the barn. And I’ve got to be really careful because it’s got to be done right.'” So, Andrew first starting mulling over this idea about Dory and being lost in 2011, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that the phone call to Ellen (who voices Dory) happened. Between the timeline and his story in the interview, you can definitely tell that he did NOT take on this sequel lightly. Finding Dory is decidedly NOT just one of those studio money-grabs where they just want to do a sequel for the sake of dollars. You can tell that Andrew HAD to have a good story before there was ANY chance of a sequel…and from what I’ve seen, he definitely found one.
Needless to say though, Ellen was THRILLED to hear that a squeal was happening (as she has LONG called out wanting to do a sequel)! What was interesting though is to hear that Andrew actually originally wrote the character of Dory with Ellen in mind all those years ago!
The quickest phone call I ever had with her was taking the role of Dory. I basically wrote with her in mind because I couldn’t figure out Dory. It wasn’t even a female character at the time, and I just needed this character to have short term memory loss and I didn’t know how to do it. And she had an original show in the 90s called “The Ellen Show” that was on in the room while I was trying to deal with writer’s block and suddenly I heard her change the sentence 5 times in one sentence, and I went, that’s it! That’s how you do it.
Then I got out of writer’s block and I couldn’t stop writing without her in my head. But I knew like there’s no guarantee you can get her and I’m really pinning myself in a corner if I do that. But it ended up working. I sent her the script, called her out of the blue, and I said, ‘Ellen, I wrote the part for you and if you don’t take it I’m completely screwed.” She didn’t know me, but she was like, “Well then, I’d better take it.” It was that short of a phone call, and I’ve been so thankful to her ever since. Probably the second shortest phone call was for “Finding Dory.”
Isn’t that great?! I LOVE that story! And now of course, none of us can imagine anyone else being Dory. Ellen IS Dory! The rest of the cast for the movie fell into place easily for the filmmakers. Lindsey explained that they actually were laughing about how easy it was for this movie! “Usually our casting process is painful because you have to kind of have ideas of people you’re interested in, and then you have to go search through shows that they’ve been on or movies they’ve been in. Then, you have to kind of pull a clip that looks like it may be interesting and then you have to kind of fake a conversation between that person and like Ellen, and then listen to it.” But they didn’t have to do that this time around. They had everything they needed from The Ellen Show because she has interviewed like everyone they were interested in! And from what I’ve seen so far (about 20 minutes or so of the movie), I can tell you that the cast is GREAT! Their voices are all perfect for the characters they play!
Here’s some other fun facts we learned:
- Andrew always had Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy in mind as Dory’s parents (always – like before the story line had even developed).
- Diane Keaton had never done voice work before Finding Dory. So, she was apparently a little nervous for recording sessions. Also, filmmakers say she came dressed for her sessions like she was on the cover of Vogue! 😉 Most actors roll up in pajamas or sweats, but not Diane Keaton!
- The #1 BIGGEST challenge in making the movie was turning Dory into a main character instead of the sidekick. Andrew actually said it was the “#1 bain of our existence” when making the movie. It really took a lot of focus and work on their part to get that to work – especially for a main character with short term memory loss. That makes character development SUPER hard.
- They included MANY characters that we know from Finding Nemo -as many as made sense for this movie. Some just didn’t fit for the story-line though.
- All the awesome Pixar Easter eggs are in this movie (along with some others). I already spotted one in the footage we saw (look for a picture of Darla)! I mentioned it to Andrew and Lindsey and they seemed so genuinely excited that some of us had spotted it. He said, “Oh you’re good! There is another one in that same shot. Well, maybe a later shot. But in that same sequence, same scene”. So, I can’t wait to see if I can spot the other one! 🙂
The movie is going to be SO good! We absolutely cannot WAIT to see this!
Finding Dory swims into theaters on June 17th, 2016! Perfect for summer fun!
Disclosure: Disney hosted me in Monterey in order to attend screenings and to participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all opinions, experiences and love of Disney & the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Photos in this post are all property of Disney-Pixar used with permission.