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Finding Dory may be about tropical fish, but according to Ellen Degeneres, just like its predecessor, it’s actually deeply human.
“The message is simple: Life is filled with surprises,” Degeneres said. “Sometimes they’re good surprises, sometimes they’re bad surprises, but even the bad surprises get you ready for something else. They build another part of you.
“The point is that we’re all made up of different things,” she continued. “Joy and love, good and bad. We’re layered. That’s why you have to take it all in and embrace it all. And, like Dory says, ‘ You just keep swimming.’”
The beloved, memory- challenged blue tang is back in Finding Dory. This time she’s navigating the ocean, and an aquatic theme park, on a quest to find her long- lost parents.
It’s been 13 years since Finding Nemo ( 2003) grossed more than $ 900 million worldwide, won an Academy Award as Best Animated Picture and endeared itself to a generation of young movie- goers. All of which begs the question, why did
it take so long to do a sequel?
“Obviously I am responsible for every penny this film makes,” Degeneres deadpanned. “Thank God I have a talk show and I could campaign for this sequel, which frankly is exactly what I’ve done for many years.”
That was no joke. For years Degeneres has been giving gentle hints on her daily talk show, Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show, that Nemo, Marlin, Dory and company needed another outing. She wanted to jump back into the Pixar pool.
“The first film was iconic and it won an Oscar,” she said, “so I started campaigning for a sequel, but not one about Dory. I just wanted a sequel.”
Animated movies take a long time to gestate, though, and even a daily talk show couldn’t speed the process.
It didn’t happen for three, four and then five years, Degeneres recalls. “But I never gave up. I continued to talk about it on my show and say, ‘ There is this one movie that really, really needs a sequel.’”
Finding Nemo fans will remember that Dory ( voice of Degeneres) has pretty much no shortterm memory. The new film reveals that her condition led to a devastating separation from her parents when she was still only a minnow, and she hasn’t seen her parents — Jenny ( voice of Diane Keaton) and Charlie ( voice of Eugene Levy) — since then.
Since the first movie, however, Dory has been all but adopted by papa fish Marlin ( voice of Albert Brooks) and young Nemo ( voice of Hayden Rolence).
“Dory can survive in the wild,” Degeneres said, “but, thanks to her memory loss, she believes she always needs someone next to her or she will get lost again. It’s a struggle for Dory. When we meet her again, she’s always apologising for herself.
“The sequel is about Dory learning how to stop apologising and be true to herself.”
Degeneres has some acting credits, but she didn’t do much research to recreate Dory.
“I didn’t stare at fish for too long,” she said. “All I know about fish is that they need water.”
She adds that she relates to Dory not as a fish, but as a person.
“I love Dory,” Degeneres said. “She has optimism, perseverance, and is non- judgmental. She doesn’t hold onto anger or resentment. She thinks everything is possible, and never for a second believes anything is wrong with anyone else or herself. She just keeps swimming.
Some might consider Dory as disabled by her memory loss, but Degeneres doesn’t see it that way. “It’s not tragic,” she said. “What appears to be a disability is her strength. It gets to the point that she’s so optimistic that others start asking, ‘ What would Dory do?’
“She has a different way of thinking and it’s a good way of thinking, and I love that message.” In her own life, Degeneres said, she’s the polar opposite of the live- in- themoment Dory.
“I’m a natural planner,” she said. “Also, being a comedian, I analyse. I look around and observe. I try not to do anything irrespon- NOTHING FISHY HERE : Beloved talk show host Degeneres often hosts personalities like ( above) US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; ( top) interacting with cast members from Finding Nemo On Ice — New York Times Syndicate