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In Finding Dory, Ellen DeGeneres once again gives voice to the title character, the little blue tang fish who suffers from short-term memory loss.
It’s been 13 years since Disney’s animated classic Finding Nemo won an Academy Award. It took a long time, but finally this sequel to the iconic feature opens this Friday, June 17th 2016.
She is living happily in the reef with Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence), about a year after their life-changing adventure. But when a she witnesses a massive stingray migration, it triggers her memory of getting lost from her parents in a similar event, and she is determined to find them.
Dory, along with Marlin and Nemo make their way to the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay, where she believes her family may be. Among the delightful new characters Dory encounters at the MFI are Hank, the octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill), Bailey, the beluga whale, (voiced by Ty Burell) and Destiny, the whale shark with bad eyesight, who keeps swimming into the walls of her enclosure.
Ellen spoke about the return of Dory at the press conference for the movie.
Finding Dory - Dory
Finding Dory – Dory finds herself lost in the kelp forest while searching for answers about her past ©2016 Disney•Pixar

I read that you really campaigned to have this sequel to Finding Nemo produced, is that true?

I am responsible for every penny that this film makes, because the film would not have happened had I not campaigned as hard as I campaigned! Thank God I had a platform; I had a talk show to talk about it.

It just seemed like it was obvious. (Finding Nemo,) was an iconic film, it won an Academy Award. 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.

When it didn’t happen for the first five or six years, it just seemed like it was never going to happen, so I would just joke about it. And then the joke became a reality, and then it became about Dory’s journey.

Andrew described Dory as a tragic figure in the first movie, and he felt bad that he hadn’t noticed how unresolved and awful it was that he left that character hanging for so long. Did you wonder what had happened to her?

No, I really didn’t. Had I thought about it and done what Andrew did, which was to think about where did she come from, who is her family, I would have called him sooner and said, ‘Here’s the sequel,’ and I wouldn’t have had to wait so long.

I actually don’t think (she) is tragic. I think you can look at it that way but as you see in the film now what appears to be a disability is her strength, and it turns into, ‘What would Dory do?’

So maybe what appears to be a disability is actually something that everybody else can look at in another way and say, ‘That’s a different way of thinking, and it’s a good way of thinking.’

So I love that message in it that something that seems to be a handicap is something you can use as a strength.

Finding Dory - Hank and Dory
Finding Dory – When Dory finds herself in the Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium, Hank—a cantankerous octopus—is the first to greet her ©2016 Disney•Pixar

Dory looks a little like you, were your features used by the animators?

Someone said it looks like me, I don’t see it personally. They record, as I’m talking they are filming me the entire time to get my facial expressions, so that’s how they come up with the look of the fish. But I don’t see it.

Did you feel a connection to Dory’s search for her family?

I think everybody is searching for their home, whatever that is. I think home is different for everybody, but I understand what a sense of belonging is; I understand when you want to say why am I who I am? Where did I come from? How did I end up where I am? So I can relate to that, I think everybody can.

Finding Dory - Destiny, Bailey and Dory
Finding Dory – Whale shark named Destiny who’s nearsighted, and a beluga whale named Bailey who thinks his biological sonar skills are on the fritz met Dory ©2016 Disney•Pixar

Parts of the movie are very emotional to watch, did they feel emotional to play?

I think it’s so much more than a cartoon movie and I think we’re all so proud of it. It’s much more complex and layered than any of us thought it would be, it’s much more complex and layered than Nemo, and Nemo was a great movie.

It is a very personal story for Dory and it is emotional. So it was very easy for me to cry.

I couldn’t read the lines and pretend to snivel and pretend to get emotional, it was emotional, it was sad, everything that Dory was going through and feeling, these are all human feelings, they are all the same feelings we all have, and it does show the power of these animators.

They make it so beautiful and realistic, and the characters they create are so complex that you do get emotional and you do cry at a fish.

Finding Dory Soundbytes

There is a rumor on the internet that there is a gay couple in the movie. Ellen was asked about it. Click here to to hear her reply.

Ellen also was asked what qualities she would like to have from Dory.