Finding Dory Opens in Theatres on June 17th
The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.
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Ellen DeGeneres and Ed O’Neill interview
I’m going to tell you right now – we all went a bit nuts when Ellen DeGeneres (voice of “Dory”) and Ed O’Neill (voice of “Hank”) walked into the conference room in the Montage Hotel in L.A. last week. Lots of claps and cheers as they walked into the room and took their seats at the front of the table. It was a bit exciting, if I do say so myself. We watched the movie at the El Capitan Theatre the night before the interview and were chomping at the bit to interview the two actors who play Dory and Hank.
We found out that the premiere at the El Capitan Theatre was actually the second time they watched the film because they had a showing for the cast previously, but this was the first time watching the ‘finished’ product. Ed O’Neill said that “it didn’t quite play the same” when it was unfinished.
“As much as you want to go, “Hey, we’re great,” it’s really nice to see it with a bunch of people and feel the energy of everybody, and then it’s like, “Oh, it really did work.” -Ellen
Ed said that the first time he saw it, he didn’t get that choked up, but during the premiere showing, he felt “Oh, my God, I’m gonna cry.” Then, he proceeds to laugh. Like I said, there was a lot of high intensity in this interview. That includes lots of laughs and a bit of dancing, but more on the dancing later.
Let’s talk about some of my favorite questions.
We know that Dory has difficulty in life she just has to tell herself to “Just Keep Swimming,” but are there any words that Ellen or Ed use to keep going when they face a challenge?
Just keep punching (he laughs). That was mine. That was always my motto, but now it gets more difficult to punch. -Ed O’Neill
I have to say that it’s weird that that became a part of this iconic character, because I didn’t know it before this happened, but that was my motto. My life has gone through a lot of different twists and turns, and I did just keep swimming. I didn’t realize that that was what I was doing. But I just kept moving forward, and I just kept doing what I know how to do, which is make people happy and make people smile and make people laugh. And so it’s just so weird that that is part of this fish’s motto.
I’d talked to so many people that go through whatever it is, if it’s an illness, or they are going through a difficult time, “Just keep swimming” is what they think about. So, I guess that’s everybody’s motto that persevere. – Ellen DeGeneres
What are you hoping that your characters bring to kids, to parents, and to people?
I think “never give up” and “be optimistic” and “there’s always another way.” When someone says that there isn’t another way, there is. You don’t get stuck. And no matter what your situation is, it can get better, and everybody starts from a different places, and some people start with a lot more odds stacked against them. But there’s a way out. There’s a way to use whatever you do best to help you.
Even if you have a disability, use your strengths. Whatever that is. Mine was making people laugh. I had a lot of stuff that was hard for me in my life, and I knew that I could make people laugh, and that was my strength. -Ellen
There’s always some other option. -Ed
[Tweet “”When someone says that there isn’t another way, there is.” -@TheEllenShow #FindingDoryEvent”]
When we asked if either Ed or Ellen had researched more about the animals that they played, Ed’s only response was that he “Googled “mimic octopus” because someone told him to. “I didn’t know that animal existed. It wasn’t an octopus I knew of. They change colors.” Ellen added that “they’re brilliant.” Who knew? I’m just going to say it here – Hank is my favorite character in the film. Who would have thought I’d love an octopus?
Somehow, we got on the topic of next films and Ellen steered it to the fact that Ed didn’t even know how big of a part he would have in Finding Dory when he signed on!
Ed was saying he really didn’t know what his part was going to be and how big his part was going to be. He just showed up because there was no script and he thought he was doing like, a day thing. -Ellen
And it turns out you’re a huge part of it. -Ellen
I thought it was a cameo. -Ed
I had done sort of a cameo in Wreck It Ralph, and so when they called me and said, “Oh, they want you to do this thing, this sequel to Nemo,” I said, “Okay, well, what is it?
Oh, it’s an octopus. I said, “Oh, okay, you know, can I see it, is there anything written?” No, there’s nothing. I said, “Well, why would I sign onto nothing, I don’t even know what it is.” It’s Pixar. It’s from Finding Nemo — I said, “Okay, I’m in.” And that’s all I ever knew and then, over time, I kept coming back, and I would say to Andrew [Stanton], “what’s happening? I’m back again?” And he said, “Well, it’s a progression.” -Ed
[Tweet “It’s Pixar. It’s from Finding Nemo — I said, “Okay, I’m in.” -Ed O’Neill #FindingDoryEvent”]
You didn’t know it was going to be three years. -Ellen
I had no idea. After a while, I said, “this is a bigger part than I thought it would be.” -Ed
Although they recorded individually, Ellen said “I could hear his voice, and Andrew always read it. They showed me a few, I saw Ed’s character come to life, and I was like, “Oh, this is so perfect, and he’s so perfectly grumpy.” – Ellen
I don’t know why they would cast me for that [he’s laughing]. The funniest thing was, I had never done anything like this.
A lot of the stuff would be frenetic, so you’ve gotta get this energy level so high with, “Stop it, no, what’re you doing, no, go, run, no, Dory, rararara!” And you do that for 30 seconds, and it’s like you’re [breathing hard and panting]. And you look in the booth and you hear, “Oh, Ed, that was great. Um. Next one, maybe amp it up a little more.” Four hours, you know? -Ed
I mean, here’s the great thing, there’s no hair and makeup, and you can just show up. But it’s four hours of — and especially as he’s saying, Dory is always left behind. She’s always catching up. She’s always like [panting and breathing heavily].
I’m hyperventilating. I have to stop this. Or I was screaming, and it was a lot of that, not nearly as much as I see in the film, oddly enough. Like, “Where is all that?” Because I did it for three years. -Ellen
You have to pace yourself on these things. Because, it’s — the voice, it’s almost like being a singer. You can’t burn out, ’cause you’re the only one there. -Ed
Yeah, I would go home, and I would just — well, I do this because I talk for a living, and I would go home and I just wouldn’t talk. Because I was just so like, my — and so when people would ask me to speak whale I’m like, “No.” [we all laughed at that!]
You go and watch the movie, and watch me speak whale. Can’t do it. -Ellen
How involved were you in the writing of Finding Dory, what the story was going to look like, etc.?
Zero. I mean I take full responsibility that it’s happening, because I made it happen, because I kept saying, “What’s wrong with you people? It won an Academy Award.” It’s a great film, it’s iconic and why — I mean, I didn’t ever imagine that it would be about Dory or that — I just thought that Pixar makes sequels, right? I mean, there’s a Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, there’s like, sequels, where’s [our] sequel? And then it just became a joke. I had a talk show, so I had a place to make a joke about it, every time a new sequel came out.
And it really was just a joke. At a certain point, I just gave up. I just thought, there’s no way. I guess I stopped swimming. I know, it’s sad. But it really was not — and so when Andrew called me, he just started with saying “uncle, I give up,” and so that was all him, and his idea, and he said it’s about Dory and finding her family. I improvised a lot.
We were able to go in with things that they wrote, and then they gave us free rein to do whatever, so I had a lot of lines that I don’t necessarily remember, because it’s been three years. But, the line — “how can someone save this park in one day?” That was an ad lib, and just things that you could play around with. But I didn’t have anything to do with the writing of the film. -Ellen
We just wanted to know if we could do a little dance with you guys?
As they both laugh….
Ed said to me before we walked in here, “I hope we dance.” -Ellen
Can you believe that? -Ed
So, here you go.