We waited a long time to know what happened to Nemo, Marlin, and Dory. Thirteen years to be exact. So with a massive sequel campaign headed up by Ellen DeGeneres that voices Dory in the films, Finding Dory became a reality. Sitting down with both Ellen and Ed O’Neill, voicing the new octopus character Hank, was not only was fun, but interesting. These two talk about continuing the Nemo legacy in Pixar’s latest release in this Dory and Hank interview. Dory
The Dory and Hank Interview
*Warning, this interview is being shared in its entirety. The spoilers are not intentional, but Ellen and Ed both make references to scenes in Finding Dory that may give you more than you care to read before seeing the movie.
Ellen and Ed walking into the room and we instantly applaud. Ellen, in true Ellen fashion, does a squat-like run around the long interview table making sure the energy level was high. Ed kinda sat back with an Al Bundy-like grin. It was priceless, and it’s where our conversation began, with Ellen asking us the questions.
Ellen: I’m assuming that means you saw it. (as we all clap and respond with how much we loved the film). Ed and I were just saying…he was sitting in front of me, and he said, “I kept wanting to turn around, and I kept wanting to grab you.”
Ed: Yeah. (laughing)
So what that the first time seeing it for you two?
Ellen: No, we saw it before.
Ed: They showed it for the cast once, but it wasn’t finished, and it was in a room with just us. And it didn’t play quite the same. I mean, it was good, but —
Ellen: Because, you know, 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 kind of like, “Oh, it really did work.”
Ed: Exactly. Exactly. I know the first time I saw it, I didn’t get that choked up when you found your parents, but last night, when it started happening, I was — “Oh, my God, I’m gonna cry.” (Laughing)
Ellen: I know, me too. And it was weird because, like, I was crying, and then I was crying because that’s me, and here’s me crying with myself. We don’t want to give any of this away. But you saw that reunion scene, and it’s just like, “Oh my God, yeah.” A friend of mine said this morning who was there, that it’s so much more adventurous versus the first one. There is a lot more adventure in it, and it feels — I mean, it’s obviously a Pixar movie, but it’s also more than that. It’s a — anyway. You talk about it.
Throwing it back for questions.
Whenever Dory has a difficulty in life, she has three words that keep her moving.
Ellen: Just keep swimming.
Are there any three words that keep you going when you face a challenging time?
Ed: Just keep punching. (Laughing) Just keep swimming, that was for you. That was mine. Yeah, yeah. But that was always my motto, but now it gets more difficult to punch.
Ellen: 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, you know what I mean? 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, you know, motto. And 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 perseveres.
What are you hoping that your characters bring to kids, to parents, and to people?
Ellen: I think that message. II 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 place, 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, you know. 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.
Ed: I was just going to say that in the movie, you know, when my character says there’s no way out, and she says, “there’s always a way out,” and says, “There’s no way out,” and then you say, “Well, what about that?” And it’s, “Oh, there is a way out!” It’s the same thing, you know.There’s always some other option.
I know that you’d played Dory before, but did either of you research more about the animals that you’d played? I didn’t know that fun fact about the heart —
Ellen: The three hearts?
Ed: I did one thing. I Googled “mimic octopus.” I did. Somebody told me to. And I didn’t know that that animal existed. You know it wasn’t like an octopus I knew of. They shape shift. Or they change colors. I was like what is this?
Ellen: They’re brilliant. It’s amazing, right? It would be so great if we all could do that. (Laughing)
Ed: Somebody said they only live about three years. They don’t have a long lifespan, but it’s probably good because they’d be ruling the world. Amazing.
Ellen: That’s amazing. I didn’t know they had a short lifespan.
Ed: I think — somebody said that they don’t live that long, I don’t know.
Ellen: We should Google that, right now. (Laughing) Let’s make sure that that’s accurate, but, you know, it’s quality versus quantity, right, so it has a full life of being anything it wants it to be and mimicking whatever it wants to mimic.
Ed: Yeah, like, if you put ’em in a jar, they can unscrew it from the inside.
So I Googled it and shared with them it’s their lifespan is only two years.
Ellen: Wow, less. Well, this is a bummer, all of a sudden.
Ed: I was trying to give myself one more year. It’s like a bug. Don’t tell anybody this. (Laughing)
Speaking of that, Ed, yesterday I heard you mention “hurrying along the next film before we die.” (Laughing) Are you already thinking about what you’d like to see in the next film?
Ed: Me. No, I really don’t think that far ahead. It’s like deep swimming. I would just go “what day is it today”?
Ellen: It’s amazing though, ’cause, you know, 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, he thought he was doing like, a day thing. And it turns out you’re like, a huge part of it.
Ed: I thought it was a cameo.
Ed: Because 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, you know, over time, I kept coming back, and I would say to Andrew, “what’s happening? I’m back again?” And he said, “Well, it’s a progression.”
Ellen: You didn’t know it was going to be three years.
Ed: I had no idea. But, I mean, after a while, I said, “this is a bigger part than I thought it would be.” And all of my stuff was with Ellen, so —
Ellen: I know, but we never worked together, ever. I was by myself all the time, and I assume you were by yourself, but it was so great, because I could hear his voice, and Andrew always read it. And they showed me a few — once Ed did some, I saw Ed’s character come to life, and I was like, “Oh, this is so perfect, and he’s so perfectly grumpy.”
Ed: (Laughing) I don’t know why they would cast me for that. The funniest thing was, I had never done anything like this. And when I would be driving to the sessions on the 101, I would be thinking —
He holds his hands unusually close pretending to be driving a car.
Ellen: That’s a tiny steering wheel you have. So small.
Ed: (Laughing) I like this. And, I thought, oh, my God, here we go again, because a lot of the stuff, as you know, would be like, frenetic, so you’ve gotta get this energy level so high with, like, you know, “Stop it, no, what’re you doing, no, go, run, no, Dory, rararara!” And you do that for like, 30 seconds, and it’s like, (Showing himself out of breath). And you look in the booth, and they’re going….and you hear, “Oh, Ed, that was great. Um. Next one, maybe amps it up a little more.” Four hours, you know?
Ellen: I know, 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, like, you know, as he’s saying, Dory is always left behind. She’s always catching up. She’s always like, you know like, (talking breathlessly).
Ed: Yeah, yeah, yeah! (Laughing)
Ellen: And, I’m like, I’m hyperventilating. I have to stop this. Or I was like, screaming, and it was a lot of that, and not — not nearly as much as I see in the film, oddly enough. Like, “Where is all that?” Because I did it for three years.
Ed: It’s like, if you’re doing a movie, and you’re eating food, you don’t want to really eat too much food, because it’s a hundred takes, maybe, you know. If you’re eating ribs, you end up eating a hundred ribs, and it’s similar. You have to pace yourself on these things. Because, the voice you know, it’s almost like being a singer. You can’t burn out, ’cause you’re the only one there.
Ellen: Yeah, I would go home, and 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 tired of talking — and so when people would ask me to speak whale, I’m like, “No.” (Laughing) You go and watch the movie, and watch me speak whale. Can’t do it.
Did you have any involvement with the script for Dory?
Ellen: Zero. I mean I take full responsibility that it’s happening because I made it happen, ’cause 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. I just thought that Pixar makes sequels, right? I mean, there’s a Toy Story One, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, there’s like, sequels, where’s Nemo’s sequel? But, 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, 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. And, so I improved a lot. We were able to. We would 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 just, you could play around with. But I didn’t have anything to do with the writing of the film.
I was just wondering what you thought of Pipers, the Pixar short playing before Finding Dory?
Ellen: It was adorable. Oh, my God, that was adorable. It was just so precious.
Ed: Albert Brooks said to me, “I don’t know if I’d show a sea story before…” (Laughing)
Ellen: He thought it was going to diminish ours?
Ed: It’s ocean and ocean. He’s funny.
Before we wrap up, we just wanted to know if we could do a little dance with you guys? (Ellen already dancing eyes get an extra twinkle.)
Ellen: A dance? Do we have music? Or are we just gonna dance?
I quickly pull up Pandora and Justin Timberlake; I know that is safe to get her dancing (wink).
Ellen: Ed said to me before we walked in here, “I hope we dance.” (Laughing)
Ed: Can you believe that? (Laughing)
Ellen: Whatever you wanna do. What song are we gonna? Are we all dancing? Oh, we’re dancing it out.
And with that, we danced to JT, took a group photo and got hugs from Ellen and a friendly handshake and a few questions about where we were all from Ed. What a fantastic interview. I smiled as I wrote the experience with you for it was truly so fun to chat with the both!
FINDING DORY (6/17/16)