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This summer, Pixar is premiering Finding Dory, inviting everyone back into the underwater world of Nemo, Marlin and Dory. Finding Dory reunites some of the original team from Finding Nemo, such as director Andrew Stanton, producer Lindsey Collins and the voice talents of Ellen DeGeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin.
]Stanton started working on Finding Dory in 2012, and it was about one or two years into the film before he realized that people who first watched Finding Nemo are now in college, or even parents.
“I think we definitely feel like, you know, it’s the burden of responsibility to make sure that this movie is worthy of Nemo, and certainly we go in with those goals on any film, but this one in particular, you know, I think we’re obviously having 13 years go by,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of thought as to whether or not the story feels like it needs to be told.”
Given the fact that the ocean is so vast, Stanton mentions the variety of new characters and locations audiences will be introduced to throughout the film.
“The ocean is a huge place; there’s so many other species, there’s so many other locations, it’s kind of almost infinite,” Stanton said. “The hard part was kind of paring it down to what would be our favorite types of species to have.”
New characters include Hank the Octopus, Bailey the Beluga Whale and Destiny the Whale Shark in addition to the natural sea life that surrounds the California coast, including sea lions, otters and loons.
Out of all the new characters, Hank is a character that they wouldn’t have been able to create when Finding Nemo was made due to the lack of technology in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With new technological advancements within animation, Hank and many other characters come to life in the film, broadening the “glossary.”
Stanton and Collins discussed the long process of creating and finding storylines, and how veering on different paths can help them discover the right one.
“The truth is that we took it personally here. We’ve probably been up about three or four different roads, that maybe had a lot of overlapped similarities until we finally figured it out,” Stanton said. “So we’re very kind of, in a weird way, fortunate that we could work on it four years because we go down a lot of wrong paths to find our answers.”
Collins compares stories to archeological digs, explaining that you start off thinking that you’re digging for one character and discover another.
Stanton and Collins also said that DeGeneres was able to make production more refreshing and enjoyable because of her personality and how she brought her lines to life.
“Ellen’s humor and her acting is so much in her delivery, in how she says the most kind of mundane line,” Collins said. “It’s just been a charm and kind of a genuine kind of wisdom and kind of approachability in the way she delivers a line that, I think for us, it’s gold.”
DeGeneres has been advocating for a sequel to Finding Nemo on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for years now, and since finding out about Finding Dory, she has been actively involved in the filmmaking process. DeGeneres has over 500 lines, and would record them numerous times, Collins said.
Stanton also discussed how Dory wouldn’t be the same, or even exist, without DeGeneres.
“I wanted to come up with a character with short-term memory loss, but I couldn’t figure out how to write it without it being kind of annoying or repetitive. And then I happened to have the TV on and I heard her on her show change the subject of a sentence five times,” Stanton said. “And the way she did it, which we’re all familiar with now, was so special it completely opened my eyes and I got out of my writer’s block.”
When creating Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, Stanton didn’t want to come off as preaching about protecting the oceans. To him, the ocean represents both life and death — it’s something that’s very beautiful, and something people are afraid of at the same time.
Pixar is known for putting subliminal yet meaningful messages into its movies, and all these messages pull on the heartstrings of people of all ages. Stanton believes people are able to relate to Pixar movies because of how much time and care he and the creative teams put into the characters and story. The warming message Finding Dory provides isn’t any different.
“I realize that I felt that Dory saw her short-term memory loss as a burden, or as a handicap, and we love her for it,” Stanton said. “But I wanted her to see and like herself as much as the rest of the world liked her and all the other characters in the movie.”
Stanton described the message he hopes everyone will get from watching the film as Dory starts discovering herself during her journey of finding her parents.
“Everybody has something about them that’s not perfect, maybe they put themselves down on, but it’s actually what’s making you special and unique, and you learn as you grow older to own that part of yourself and to embrace it,” Stanton said. “Know that’s what makes you different than somebody else in a good way.”
Finding Dory hits theaters June 17.