Finding Dory brings back a lot of familiar faces from Finding Nemo – but if you’ve seen the movie, you know some of the newer characters steal the show.
One such character doesn’t even have a face, as she’s just a disembodied voice.
As the fish travel to the Marine Life Institute (“the jewel of Morrow Bay, California”) to find Dory’s parents, they’re welcomed by the soothing sounds of one Sigourney Weaver.
“Hello, I’m Sigourney Weaver,” the recording starts, as the famed actress welcomes all visitors to the family-friendly aquatic centre.
Weaver’s voice booms through the movie at the most unexpected times, and is a running joke through the whole film, especially considering that all the animals (including Dory and the sea lions) come to consider Weaver their pal. It’s just random enough to be hilarious. But how did Weaver end up in the film?
Director Andrew Stanton laughs when asked the question. “Yeah, it’s just so specific,” he agrees.
He points out that Weaver is the “default voice” for nature footage, as she can be heard in the American version of BBC nature documentary Planet Earth and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco during a planetarium show. “It just cracked us up.”
In fact, Stanton thought the Weaver bit was definitely going to get axed because it was so weird. But her voice just kept getting a bigger and bigger role.
Eventually, when it became clear that it was actually going to make the final cut, he had to hurry and ask Weaver if she could actually voice the part.
Luckily, the two knew each other already from when Weaver voiced a role in Stanton’s Wall-E, and she said yes.
“God bless her, she was really in on the joke,” says Stanton. “She just thought it was a hoot that she could play herself. It kind of gets funnier each time.”
Still, Stanton admits it’s possible not everyone will understand the gag. “I’m not sure how it’s going to translate in other countries. I’m not sure if they’ll stick with her, or just go with their local person who does nature videos and things.”