Ellen DeGeneres's Talk Show Was Basically the 'Finding Dory' Casting Couch

Ellen DeGeneres's Talk Show Was Basically the 'Finding Dory' Casting Couch

Apr 12, 2016

Pixar is known for their film literacy, evidenced in all their homages to classic and contemporary cinema, but apparently they're also heavily influenced by television. Just look at the casts of Toy Story and A Bug's Life and "you can tell what was on TV at the time," says studio staple Andrew Stanton. And now it's the same with his latest, Finding Dory, with its inclusion of multiple actors from Modern Family among its voice cast (never mind it also features two stars of The Wire, which went off the air eight years ago).

One woman's television presence has been particularly influential to the casting of Finding Dory, as well as its predecessor, Finding Nemo. The first movie, released back in 2003, originally was to have a male sidekick for Marlin (Albert Brooks) named Gill, somewhat informed by Tom Hanks's recurring Saturday Night Live character Mr. Short-Term Memory. But then Stanton heard Ellen DeGeneres's voice on TV, and everything changed. Here's what he revealed at a recent promo event for the upcoming sequel (via /Film): 

"I had [The Ellen Show] on in the side of the room while I was trying to tackle this. And I heard her change the subject five times in one sentence. And I was like that’s the way to play it.  She was hilarious. And then I said, why not female? Why can’t it be a platonic relationship? I mean, why can’t it be that manner?"

Now the sequel has come together with more direct influence from DeGeneres. Not only has the comedian-turned-talk show host been very vocal about wanting to do a sequel for years, but her rise in fame on TV helped to put the focus on her. More than that, the voice casting for the new characters in Finding Dory was helped by her talk show (Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show). Here's how producer Lindsey Collins put it at the same event: 

"Ellen has interviewed everybody, so we’re like, 'What does Ellen sound like next to Ty Burrell?' And you’d be like, whoop, here goes the interview. Let’s just listen to them. There was literally everybody in the world against her. It was the easiest casting session, in a way. So that’s why watching her with Diane Keaton, there was no question. Everybody’s like, 'Well, it has to be Diane Keaton. I mean, if you’ve ever watched them, those interviews together, they’re so funny. And Eugene [Levy]. So it was like it was this weird kind of easy casting session for that reason. I think we had the movie cast really early actually. Really fast."


Finding Dory opens on June 17.

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