This Exclusive Finding Dory Interview ended with a dance party! Find out insight on the latest Disney Pixar movie from Ellen DeGeneres & Ed O’Neill. This post is sponsored by Disney for the #FindingDoryEvent, all opinions are my own
When Ellen says “Dance,” you dance. If there was ever a bucket list item for this trip, I had one mission. Dance with Ellen. Palms sweaty, sitting on the edge of my chair, I was waiting for Ellen to say those magical words…”Dance with me, Christie.” This Finding Dory Interview was everything I dreamed it to be and more.
Find out what Ellen really thinks of the words “Just Keep Swimming,” why Ed O’Neill thought his role was a cameo, and why you shouldn’t ask Ellen to speak whale…like ever. 13 years all led to this exclusive Finding Dory interview.
13 Long Years
13 years is a long time for Ellen to develop a chip on her shoulder. What did Ellen have to say about the wait? Did Ellen have any input on the long awaited script?
Zero. I mean I take full responsibility that it’s happening, because I made it happen. I kept saying, “What’s wrong with you people? It won an Academy Award. It’s a great film, it’s iconic.” 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 sequels. Where’s the sequel? 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. So when Andrew [Stanton] called me, he just started with saying “Uncle, I give up.” So that was all him, and his idea. He said it’s about Dory and finding her family.
I improv’d a lot. 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 could play around with. But I didn’t have anything to do with the writing of the film.
I don’t know, what’s a “motto” with you?
Just Keep Swimming – three little words that mean so much. In 13 years Ellen has had every opportunity to embrace the mantra or hate it. What does Ellen have to say about the iconic Dory phrase?
I have to say that it’s weird that became a part of this iconic character. 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 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 motto.
I’ve 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.
Ed + Ellen = The Next Comedy Duo
I think one of the best reasons to keep Ellen and Ed together is just to listen to them banter back and forth together. Hilarious. One of the highlights of the day, this little dialogue back and forth kept me laughing long after. It’s all about Ed’s research on the mimic octopus.
Ed: I did one thing. I Googled “mimic octopus.” I did. Somebody told me to. And I didn’t know that that animal existed. It wasn’t like an octopus [that] I knew of. That they shape shift. Or they change colors. Or they — I mean, I was like what is this?
Ellen: It would be so great if we all could do that.
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.
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. [LAUGHS] Let’s make sure that that’s accurate. But 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: Two years!
Ellen: Wow, less. Well, this is a bummer, all of a sudden.
Ed: I was trying to give myself one more year.
Ed O’Neill on being Hank the “Septopus”
I thought it was a cameo.
Ed O’Neill had no idea what he was signing up for when he said yes to Finding Dory. There were no lines. There was no plan.
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 and he thought he was doing like, a day thing.
Ed: 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. 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 Finding Nemo — I said, “Okay! I’m in.” And that’s all I ever knew. Then, you know, over time, I kept coming back. And I would say to Andrew [Stanton], “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.”
On working together?
Thinking that Ed and Ellen worked hand in hand on this movie? Well…maybe not quite as close as we thought.
Ellen: We never worked together, ever. I was by myself all the time. But it was so great, because I could hear his voice. And Andrew always read it. Once Ed did some [lines], I saw Ed’s character come to life, and I was like, “Oh, this is so perfect, and he’s so perfectly grumpy.”
Ed: Ha! I don’t know why they would cast me for that. The funniest thing was, I had never done anything like this. 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 are you doing? No! Go! Run! No! Dory! Rararara!” And you do that for like 30 seconds, and it’s like, [PANTING]. And you look in the booth and they’re going….and you hear, “Oh, Ed, that was great. Next one, maybe amp it up a little more.” Four hours, you know?
Don’t ask Ellen to speak whale. Trust me.
Getting back on the horse (the fish?) after 13 years was not like riding a bike. It was exhausting. Ellen and Ed explain just how much work goes into bringing Dory and friends to life on the big screen.
Ellen: Here’s the great thing, there’s no hair and makeup. You can just show up. But it’s four hours of – Dory is always left behind. She’s always catching up. She’s always like, you know like, [PANTING]. And, I’m hyperventilating. I have to stop this. Or I was screaming. And it was a lot of that, and 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: 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. It’s similar. You have to pace yourself on these things. Because, it’s the voice. It’s almost like being a singer, you know. You can’t burn out, ’cause you’re the only one there.
Ellen: Yeah, I would go home, and I would just — 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 like [body slumps, face frowns with exhaustion] and so when people would ask me to speak whale I’m like, “No. [LAUGHS] You go and watch the movie, and watch me speak whale. Can’t do it.”
Dory’s message of hope
I’ve only have my voice shake once during an interview. And yet here I was, asking Ellen a question. My voice shook like an earthquake on steroids as I raised my hand. “What are you hoping that your characters bring to kids, to parents, and to people?” And then she looked me in the eye and gave me this beautiful answer, the perfect way to end this interview.
[Just Keep Swimming.] “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. Everybody starts from a different places, and some people start with a lot more odds stacked against them. But there’s a way out. Here’s a way to use whatever you do best to help you. 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.
Dancing it out
And then it happened.
Are we all dancing? Oh! We’re dancing it out.
25 bloggers. 1 amazing Ellen. 1 very embarrassed Ed. A brief moment in history with Justin Timberlake barely audible in the background, I had my dance with Ellen. And it was everything I thought it would be. If you’ve missed the fun on the #FindingDoryEvent train so far, be sure to catch up:
Be sure to grab your FREE Finding Dory Coloring Sheets, Finding Dory Crafts, Finding Dory Party Ideas and even an adorable Finding Dory Hair Bow to get ready for the BIGGEST sequel event of the year! And be sure to stay tuned for more exclusive interviews with the cast of Finding Dory, coming soon.
And just like that, it was over. But I would never be the same. Ellen spoke with me; danced with me. And it was amazing.
What do you think of Ellen’s return to the character of Dory in Finding Dory? Are you excited to see Ed O’Neill as Hank the Octopus?
I was invited to attend an all-inclusive Disney press trip in exchange for this post. But don’t be fooled, my love for Disney runs deep. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more exclusive Disney movie insider info, recipes, crafts and travel.