The prequel to Finding Nemo and Finding Dory should be called Finding Ellen DeGeneres.
Finding Nemo mastermind Andrew Stanton has revealed that the franchise's beloved blue tang with short-term memory loss was almost a male fish - until he discovered DeGeneres.
"To be honest, I had this really dumb, male, naive view that the guide that should take the father through should be a male fish," Stanton said. "And it just didn't work for about six months to a year."
Enter DeGeneres surfaced on Stanton's radar while his wife was watching the veteran comedian on TV.
"I heard (DeGeneres) change the sentence - the subject of a sentence - five times before she got from beginning to the end," Stanton said. "And a light bulb went off that was an appealing, progressive way to be able to do short-term memory that wouldn't get old really quick.
"And then I couldn't get her ... voice out of my head, and suddenly all the writer's block I had just unloaded. And then I started to think, 'Well, why not? Why can't it be a female? And why can't it be a platonic relationship?"
The 2003 fish film follows a sprightly Dory and an uptight clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) as they "just keep swimming" through the ocean on a desperate mission to locate the latter's missing son, Nemo.
As has been previously noted, "Marlin may fail in the dad-joke department, but he is nevertheless the ultimate helicopter parent. As such, he's pretty obnoxious a lot of the time - but also more relatable than I care to admit."
For Stanton, that layered father-son relationship was "the last jigsaw puzzle piece that really put it all together."
"I was at this place where I was a father of a newborn, but my dad was still very much alive and very healthy. And I felt like I was in the middle of a telescope," Stanton said.
"I could see back in time, as equally as I could see forward in time, to being a son and a father. ... That's always the best place to be as a writer. ... You almost are compelled to try to express this thing you're going through."
With Nemo on a separate path throughout most of the film, Stanton described the innocent and childlike Dory as the "surrogate child" who forces Marlin to evolve as a parent by the time he (spoiler!) reunites with his son at the end of the story.
"My whole goal here is to make this character - my main character - a better father, and I don't have the son with him through the entire movie. How do I work on him?" Stanton said.
"That's when the movie went from a funny situation to a deep movie that we could really, really take advantage of. And I can't say all came in one moment."
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