Yesterday I shared about the Finding Dory premiere, but that was just a small part of my incredible three day press trip with Disney. Myself and 23 other bloggers had the opportunity to interview many of the cast members of Finding Dory. Today I want to share a little bit about our time with Ellen Degeneres (Dory) and Ed O'Neill (Hank).
Dory and Hank are definitely the stars of Finding Dory and it was a lot of fun hearing them banter off one another. (I can't WAIT for Elias to see Finding Dory because he is going to love Hank SO much. He is a really awesome, memorable character.)
We were in a small hotel ballroom and when they walked in, everyone clapped and cheered loudly. Ellen ran around our big conference table clapping with us and laughing. It was awesome and so Ellen.
We had about 15 minutes to interview Ellen and Ed, so the time flew by. They were both extremely personable and engaging. Below are just a few bites.
What are you hoping that your characters bring to kids, to parents, and to people?
ELLEN: I think that message [of just keep swimming]. I 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. Everybody starts from a different places, and some people start with a lot more odds stacked against them. But there's a way out. There's a way to, you know — and 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.
ED: I was just going to say that in the movie, when my character says there's no way out, and she (Dory) says, “there's always a way out,” and (Hank) says, “There's no way out,” and then you (Ellen) 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.
They both are so right. The message of the film to never give up is one that will inspire a lot of children and adults. Finding Dory really takes the “just keep swimming” message a lot deeper.
How involved were you in the writing of Finding Dory, what the story was going to look like, and all of that stuff? (My question to 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 or that — 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 sequel? But, and then it just became a joke. I just, you know, 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. I never — 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 — and so when Andrew called me, he said, 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 didn't have any, you know, I improv'd a lot… But I didn't have anything to do with the writing of the film.
The final question the group had for Ellen and Ed was if they would have a little dance party with us. They happily agreed and after some scrambling to get some music playing, we circled around Ellen and Ed and danced. It was fun and delightful, just like the two of them.
Thankfully, the Disney publicist snapped a few shots on his iphone to capture the moment. We were all moving a bunch, so they are blurry, but captured. 🙂
After our dance party, we took a group photo. Colleen and I bantered with Ed and Ellen about almost sitting on their feet and they were hilarious about it.
Since I was sitting near Ellen, when we stood up, I thanked her for all she does and gave her a big hug. I have so much respect and appreciation for her and it was a really special moment for me.
Finding Dory swims into theaters this Friday, June 17. Connect with Finding Dory on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. To add to the fun, print off these free Finding Dory coloring sheets and make these Finding Dory cereal treats.
Disclosure: Disney hosted me in LA in order to attend screenings and to participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all experiences, love of Disney and thoughts are my own. Interview photos: Sara Lundberg / BudgetSavvyDiva.com