No one ever thought Dory would ever get her own movie, least of all Finding Nemo and Finding Dory Director Andrew Stanton. After taking a break from all things Nemo, and then revisiting the movie, Stanton decided Dory needed her own film. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Stanton and Producer Lindsey Collins to talk about Finding Dory and learn a little more about how the sequel came to be.
How long to get a sequel?
Stanton told us how Ellen DeGeneres joked how Frozen immediately got a sequel and it took her over 10 years. Sounds about right. Perfect fodder for her show.
But Stanton said he didn't want to just jump into a sequel. It took so long because it had to be just right and they had to have a solid story first. “I can't say ‘Finding Anything,” Stanton said,” or it would just happen.
After they decided Finding Dory was going to happen, he needed his Dory. Stanton said asking DeGeneres to be Dory was the quickest phone call he's ever had with her.
“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, completely screwed.' She didn't know me, she was like, ‘Well then I better take it.' It was that short of a phone call, and I've been so thankful to her ever since.”
Challenges of turning Dory into a main character
Stanton and Collins talked a bit about the challenges of turning Dory into a main character instead of a sidekick. Stanton said it was the #1 bane of their existence. They had created her as such a fantastic supporting role in Finding Nemo that moving her to a main character had challenges. How do you have a main character with short-term memory loss?
“What I discovered—2 years later than I wanted to—was that one of the reasons that you follow a main character is because you can see that they're growing and that they're changing and that they're hitting things and overcoming them.
And the way that you know that is because of self-reflection. They can actually stop and say, ‘I felt sad when I used to do this, but now that I've been through this, I don't feel sad about it anymore.' She couldn't do that because she didn't remember. And so we had no way of tracking that she was changing, and we didn't even realize that was what was going on. So we were like, ‘Why is she not interesting? Why is she boring? Why is she starting to get annoying?' And then the tough part. ‘OK, now we've identified the problem. How do we solve it?' And it was a lot of things.
One is attachment to Hank. Hank has memory. Hank can tell her what she's doing. Have her find people that knew her, that can give her information. Have her remember things as she gets closer to home. It's like sense memory. It's like ‘I haven't been in my old Elementary School since I was a little kid and now that I'm here, suddenly I have memory.' And you know, lots of things. But we couldn't solve the problem until we identified it. And through the whole thing, I kept kind of swearing and saying, ‘Who the heck thought of this character?' I hate it.”
Takeaways for Finding Dory
Despite the frustrations, though, Dory was created to do great things. Stanton and Collins also talked to us about the amazing takeaways in Finding Dory. One of the biggest takeaways that Stanton wants the audience to get from the film is to embrace what's unique about you. We are wired the way we are wired. You can only grow and embrace that. This is such an important thing to remember, especially for kids. Lead with it, learn to deal with it, and grow with it and from it. Take your quirky—which maybe a weakness, but maybe not—and turn it into a strength, sort of like Nemo's little fin. Dory is forever saying “I'm sorry, I suffer from short term memory loss,” yet she never once takes notice of other character's flaws. She never talks about Nemo's fin or Bailey's broken echolocation or Destiny's poor eyesight. She always finds the good qualities in them. Other characters may see something as a flaw that they are struggling with that stops the conversation for them, but Dory never sees that. She just keeps swimming. She doesn't let those flaws stop the conversation.
Characters from Finding Nemo
Stanton and Collins said they tried really hard to pull in as many of the characters from Finding Nemo as they could. The characters that made it needed to be there, and the ones that didn’t, well it was for a reason. You'll see some key characters like Marlin and Nemo, Squirt, Crush.
Fun facts about Finding Dory
- Diane Keaton had never done a voice acting part until this movie.
- By the time Finding Dory releases in theatres, it will be 13 years since Finding Nemo was released. That, I think, is the longest sequel making in history!
- Goldfish have a memory of 5 seconds.
- Stanton and Collins watch a lot of “Modern Family.”
- Stanton thought DIane Keaton and Eugene Levy would be perfect for Dory's parents.
- Watch for Easter Eggs. There are several, including a nod to Cars 3, the classic A-113, John Ratzenberger, and Darla.
This movie is going to be fantastic. Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory reunites everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory, with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?