30 Things You Didn’t Know About Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo was the underwater Pixar movie which gripped an entire generation of kids in the early 2000s. It follows the story of Marlin, a clown fish and general worry-wart who sets out to find his more adventurous son Nemo. The movie features a whole host of loveable creatures including Dory, a blue tang fish with bags of enthusiasm, plus Bruce the great white shark and his two buddies Chum (a mako shark) and Anchor (a hammerhead).
In the article below we bring you 30 fascinating facts about Finding Nemo. Why was one famous sitcom actress fired from the set? And why were thousands of fish killed after the movie was first released? Plus, we explain why Marlin should really have been depicted as a transsexual fish!
Scroll on down to find out more…
30. The entire production crew got to visit aquariums and go diving
Sounds like the perfect job, right?
Apparently Pixar treated the Finding Nemo production crew to several different trips during their time working on the film. They visited a number of aquariums and also got to go diving in Monterey and Hawaii – not bad for a day job!
However, there was actually a serious reason behind all of these treats. Disney executives felt that the look and feel of Nemo and Marlin’s underwater adventure was going to be essential to the movie’s success, so they wanted to give the designers a complete idea of what life is like under the sea.
As well as aquarium trips and diving sessions, the production team had study sessions in front of Pixar’s very own 25-gallon fish tank and received lectures from an ichthyologist (i.e. someone who studies fish).
29. Thousands of pet fish were killed in the wake of the film’s release
We’re pretty sure Disney executives didn’t intend for a full-on fish slaughter to occur in the wake of the film…
Unfortunately though, that’s exactly what happened! After the huge success of Finding Nemo, thousands of people rushed out to stock up their fish tanks with clown fish (Nemo and Marlin) and blue tang (Dory). Sadly for the fish in question, their new owners had absolutely no idea how to care for these exotic species.
Apparently, saltwater tropical fish require a 30-gallon aquarium in order to thrive. They also need the salinity levels in the water to be carefully monitored – if salinity levels drop too low, the fish will die. Once it became clear they were difficult to look after, some owners released their poisoned clown fish into the wild, which wreaked havoc on the local habitat.
Other people flushed their little Nemos and Dorys down the toilet, which killed them before the fish could even reach the sewers. Kind of ironic considering that Finding Nemo is a story about safely freeing an animal from a confined fish tank!
28. There are Pixar easter eggs throughout the film
Did you spot these Pixar easter eggs the first time round?
At one point in the movie, eagle-eyed Disney fans will have noticed that a Toy Story crossover can be found lurking in Finding Nemo. When Gil is trying to hatch a plan about how he and his fellow tank mates will escape, a camera pans out of the window and you can clearly see a yellow Pizza Planet truck parked on the road.
The truck looks slightly different to its infamous appearance in Toy Story. Because Finding Nemo is set in Australia, the vehicle is a right-hand drive and is parked on the left side of the road, rather than the right. There’s also a nod to The Incredibles at one point in the movie…
When Darla is being attacked by Nigel the pelican, one of the kids sitting in the waiting room is reading a Mr Incredible comic – a clever nod to Pixar’s next animated movie!
27. Crush and his turtle crew were actually headed for Hawaii
Crush and his crew of turtles nearly stole the show from Nemo and co!
Fans of the movie loved the easy-going turtle – despite being 150 years old he still has a laid-back surfer attitude and seems to live for the moment. The gang encounter Crush when he’s riding the East Australian Current with his kids.
Whilst it’s never mentioned in the film, the directors revealed in the DVD commentary that Crush and his crew were actually heading to Hawaii, one of the surf capitals of the world. Cool! Apparently, the shells of all the young turtles are modelled after Hawaiian shirts in a subtle nod to their final destination.
Animators were hard at work during the turtle sequence – there are over 200 turtles swimming about in the background whilst Crush is talking to Nemo and Dory.
26. Director Andrew Stanton based the film on his own life
By the time Finding Nemo had rolled around, director Andrew Stanton had already produced classics such as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life.
When it came to directing the fish-based movie, Stanton was inspired by two significant life experiences. First of all, the director distinctly remembers going to the dentist as a child and being fascinated by the aquarium on display in the waiting room.
This was later mocked in the film when Nemo finds his way into a dentist’s exotic fish tank. Second, Stanton partly found inspiration for the character of Marlin in himself – he realised that he was naturally very over-protective of his son.
These two experiences are very much at the heart of the film, and Stanton successfully weaved them into a blockbuster Pixar movie. Nice!
25. There’s a subtle nod to Deep Blue Sea
Remember 1999’s sci-fi horror film Deep Blue Sea?
The movie was a moderate success at the box office and received mixed reviews upon its release back in the 90s. The plot involved genetically-modified mako sharks who go on the rampage in an underwater testing facility after managing to break free of their tanks.
It seems like an unlikely crossover with a Disney kid’s film, but producers decided to insert a subtle reference to the film during one of the shark scenes in Finding Nemo. Bruce (leader of the Fish-Friendly Sharks group) is driven mad by the smell of blood and tries to ram the door of the submarine.
This is a direct reference to one of the mako sharks in Deep Blue Sea, which attempts to ram two closed doors open to escape.
24. A sewage treatment company had to issue a public warning after the film was released
That’s right – as well as inadvertently killing lots of pet fish, Finding Nemo also came with a public health warning.
Executives at a company responsible for producing water filtration and sewage equipment were extremely worried that the film would encourage people to ‘free’ their pet fish by flushing them down the toilet.
The company executives quickly took matters into their own hands…
They issued a public warning on the Thursday following the film’s release, which included a graphic description of just what would really happen to any poor Nemos flushed down the loo. Whilst drains do eventually reach the ocean, the water flowing through them goes through various equipment which breaks down solids and cleans the water.
In reality, the company said that due to the manner of the machinery involved, the Pixar film should really be called Grinding Nemo. Ouch!
23. It was the first ever Pixar film to show blood on-screen
It sounds pretty unbelievable but it’s true.
Finding Nemo has the dubious honour of being the first ever Pixar film to show blood on-screen. A Bug’s Life (1998) doesn’t count because the blood shown in that film was a sample rather than someone being injured and bleeding as a result.
The incident famously occurs when poor Dory gets hit in the face by a scuba mask after she’s trying to show the Fish-Friendly sharks what the address on the mask reads. Marlin and Dory start tussling over the mask and eventually the blue tang gets a nosebleed.
Bruce and his fellow sharks instantly become excited by the smell of blood and turn to doing what they do best – eating fish.
22. Pixar had to invent an entirely new computer system to create the jellyfish sequence
Remember the crazy jellyfish sequence in the middle of the film?
Marlin and Dory get caught up in a whirlwind of purple glowing jellyfish, which also happen to be extremely poisonous. The two fish fight their way through the creatures and try not to get stung in the process during a particularly memorable scene from the movie.
There were actually some amazing special effects going on behind the scenes in order to create this bit of the movie. Pixar’s ‘Ocean Unit’ had to come up with an entirely new system of shading which they called ‘transblurrency’, which means a shading which is still see-through but blurred.
Executive producer John Lasseter later praised the innovations of the Pixar team: “Technically, we’ve pushed things beyond anything Pixar has done before. Just animating fish was difficult, but our technical team has created an underwater environment that is graceful and beautiful.” We couldn’t agree more!
21. Filmmakers were worried about Ellen DeGeneres’ acting ability
And finally, it might seem surprising now but at one time film executives were worried about how Ellen DeGeneres would perform as a voice actor.
The charismatic comedian and chat-show host now seems like a perfect fit for the role of Dory, but back when she was recording the first movie, Disney executives voiced concerns about whether the funny lady would be able to handle Dory’s dramatic scenes.
In one particularly moving moment, Dory begs Marlin not to leave her. Producers asked DeGeneres to record a trial reading of the dialogue, so that she could then go home and use it to work on her actual performance the next day.
However, DeGeneres’ trial reading was so heartfelt that it was this initial recording which made its way into the final film. Nice!
20. Director Andrew Stanton voiced Crush the turtle
Perhaps one of the coolest things about Crush was his distinctive surfer voice.
He had a very laid-back drawl which perfectly fit his easy-going personality – but who was the actor behind the voice? Fans of the film might be surprised to learn that in fact, director Andrew Stanton stepped in to voice Crush the turtle during recording.
Stanton had never intended to perform the voice since he’s primarily a writer/director, and only provided voice recordings for the film’s rough cut. However, it proved so popular in test screenings that Stanton stepped up and voiced Crush for the final cut.
Apparently he recorded all of the dialogue whilst lying on the couch in his office – he’s the boss man so he can do what he wants!
19. It was more popular than The Lion King
The Lion King was the biggest film of 1994 and instantly became a Disney classic.
For a whole generation of 90s kids, The Lion King was one of the best Disney films of all time – it grossed a whopping $766 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film ever upon its release. However, Finding Nemo eventually came along and toppled its record.
Apparently when Lion King director Don Hahn (pictured below) found out about the news, he rang up Andrew Stanton to congratulate him with the words “It’s about time.”
Clearly he’s very magnanimous in defeat!
Finding Nemo surpassed The Lion King with a grand total of $871 million earned at the box office.
18. William H. Macy nearly tanked the film
It’s not often that Emmy Award-winner William H. Macy gets booted off a film set…
But that’s exactly what happened with Finding Nemo after producers decided that they needed to recast the role of Marlin completely. Macy had already voiced the entirety of the movie as Nemo’s dad when the fateful decision was made.
According to a book entitled DisneyWar by American lawyer and journalist James B. Stewart, Disney CEO Michael Eisner watched an early cut of the film and famously told his board of directors: “This will be a reality check for those guys [at Pixar]…It’s OK, but nowhere near as good as their previous films. Of course, they think it’s great. Trust me, it’s not.”
Stanton replaced Macy with Albert Brooks and Finding Nemo went on to become the highest-grossing animated film of all-time (much to Eisner’s embarrassment).
17. Finding Nemo created serious beef between Disney and Pixar executives
That wasn’t the end of the story for Eisner though.
Around the time of Finding Nemo‘s release, Disney’s distribution contract with Pixar was due to expire. Unfortunately Pixar owner Steve Jobs got wind of Eisner’s boardroom insult, putting Eisner in the difficult position of having to work with someone he had gravely offended.
Eisner’s total mishandling of the situation proved to be the final straw for Disney, and after a string of complaints about his behaviour, company shareholders voted to sack the executive. However, things didn’t end on completely bitter terms.
Disney’s Burbank HQ building has now been renamed ‘Team Disney – The Michael D. Eisner Building’ in his honour.
16. All of the boats seen in Sydney Harbour have special Pixar-themed names
Remember when Marlin and Dory pop up in Sydney Harbour?
Just like in real life, you can see a number of boats floating around on the water. Although they aren’t very important to the main plot of the movie, it was revealed in the DVD commentary that at least 9 of the vessels were given special Pixar-themed names.
The names are as follows: Sea Monkey, Major Plot Point, Bow Movement, iBoat, Knottie Buoy, For the Birds, Pier Pressure, Skiff-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, and The Surly Mermaid.
We love whoever came up with all of those!
iBoat is clearly a reference to Pixar CEO Steve Jobs’ Apple company, whilst Skiff-A-Dee-Doo-Dah is a take on the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from Disney’s Song of the South (1946).
15. Darla is named after Pixar executive Darla K. Anderson
Darla is the main antagonist in Finding Nemo.
She’s a bit of a brat and definitely doesn’t look after her pets – the tank fish are terrified when they hear that she’s due for a visit because it means one of them just might end up going home with her. But as the dentist’s niece she gets to do whatever she wants…
This rather unpleasant character’s name actually has a really funny story behind it. Apparently Stanton christened the ginger-haired terror ‘Darla’ after Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson – it was meant as an act of revenge after Anderson had played a prank on him.
Anderson recently resigned from Pixar and currently sits on the national board of directors for the Producers Guild of America. We’re bet she’s pretty pleased with her Finding Nemo nod!
14. Megan Mullally was fired from the film
Uh oh! Seems as though there was some serious drama on the set of Finding Nemo…
Will & Grace star Megan Mullally once revealed in an interview that she was originally supposed to be doing a voice in the film. She showed up to the recording studio and producers quickly became disappointed when they realised that Mullally doesn’t actually have the same high-pitched whine as her character Karen Walker.
Executives asked her to do the Walker voice anyway but the actress refused – she revealed on the “Warren Brady Show” that she was eventually fired for her refusal to imitate Karen.
Seems a little harsh!
Strangely enough, this is the only Andrew Stanton/Pixar film not to feature a character voiced by veteran actress Sigourney Weaver. More drama? It’s possible…
13. The film contains several references to Massachusetts
You may or may not have noticed that the underwater film contains some veiled references to Massachusetts.
This is because director Stanton hails from the town of Rockport, Massachusetts and wanted to incorporate some elements from his home state into the final cut (despite the fact that Finding Nemo is entirely set in the ocean around Australia).
Towards the end of the film we hear various sea creatures discussing Marlin’s epic quest to find his son. One of these scenes features a group of lobsters crawling across the ocean floor who speak with distinctive Boston accents and use Boston slang (“wicked daahhk”).
The lobsters are also Maine lobsters, a species which actually hails from North America and can usually be found in the Atlantic Ocean.
12. Finding Nemo contains a number of Pixar ‘firsts’
Finding Nemo actually contains a number of epic Pixar ‘firsts’.
It’s the first ever Pixar film to contain a post-credits scene! The short clip features a tiny green fish about to be eaten by the dreaded angler fish…when the tiny green swimmer turns around and completely swallows the angler fish whole. Nice!
It’s also the first Pixar film not to feature any bloopers since their first production, Toy Story, in 1995. Before Nemo was released it was common for the animators to include some hilarious outtakes of their animated characters fluffing lines and messing around between takes.
Incidentally, Finding Nemo is the first Pixar film not to be released in November and is also the first release not to take place in or around North America. Cool!
11. Bruce is not actually a villain
Bruce the great white shark is often cast as one of the bad guys in Nemo.
But when you think about it, this is isn’t actually the case. Bruce heads up an organisation that tries to stop sharks eating fish all the time and become mindless killers, whilst he’s very friendly to Marlin and Dory when he first meets them.
Unfortunately, despite Bruce’s best efforts he can’t overturn his natural predatory instincts, and as soon as he smells the blood his true shark nature takes over. There’s also a chance that he is friendly towards dolphins – whilst Great Whites are one of the only shark species known to hunt dolphins, Bruce doesn’t seem to mind them.
At one point in the film, Anchor and Chum are making fun of dolphins but Bruce doesn’t join in and instead calls the meeting to order. We think he’s got a good heart really!
10. Gill is a Moorish Idol, a species of fish that is notoriously hard to domesticate
Gill is probably the coolest customer in the dentist’s fish tank.
He’s also the de facto boss who is desperate to escape and swim in the open ocean again. In reality, Gill is a Moorish Idol, a fish which is notoriously hard to keep in captivity due its diet and mannerisms. Was this a deliberate choice by the film’s creators?
Moorish Idols are resistant to domestication and this may be why Gill has a deep desire to break free of the tank.
Plus Gill is the main leader of the pack and the one who really pressurises Nemo into following his orders and going through with the escape plan.
Either way, he’s one cool customer.
9. The anglerfish is actually a female
The anglerfish is arguably the most terrifying predator in the entire film.
It famously attracts Dory to its mesmerising light before revealing its true form in the depths of the ocean, much to the horror of Dory and Marlin. But did you know that the anglerfish depicted in the film is probably a female rather than a male?
The glowing bait that Dory swims towards characterises the female of the species, not the male, meaning that the horrifying monster fish in Finding Nemo is a lady fish rather than a man. Male anglerfish are 40 times smaller than their female counterparts, with the ladies being a lot bigger and more dangerous.
That’s an interesting thought for next time you watch the film!
8. Chum actually hangs out with a number of different shark groups
Chum is the friendly mako shark who hangs out with Anchor and Bruce.
Apparently they aren’t the only shark buddies he has in the ocean though. Disney once released a Finding Nemo sticker book which contained extra information about all of our favourite underwater characters, and Chum had a particularly interesting bio attached.
As well as the Fish-Friendly Sharks group, Chum hangs out with two other gangs. Apparently the second one is a group of tough rag-tag sharks who gave him the nickname ‘snaggletooth’ whilst the third is a very different crew of posh sharks who call Chum ‘reef raff’.
‘Chum’ clearly earned his friendly name for a reason!
7. Marlin should really have been Nemo’s mother, not his father
That’s right – Nature does some crazy things and apparently, Nemo should really have been a lady fish, not a man.
Clown fish are ‘protandrous hermaphrodites’, which mean that they are born male but have the ability to change sex later in life. This evolutionary adaptation comes in handy whenever a female clown fish within the school passes away.
The male fish can change gender to make up for the loss of a female and thus ensure that further generations of fish are produced. Nemo famously loses his mum in the movie and yet Marlin stays the same gender – in reality he would have become a woman shortly after his wife’s death!
That would have made for a very interesting (and diverse) film…
6. The art team were too good for the film!
We all know that Pixar have been making cool special effects for years.
But during the production of Finding Nemo, their amazing talent actually ended up wasting a lot of time before the movie was released. That’s right, at one point the art department were too advanced for what the studio needed.
The art team were asked to make the underwater and above-water shots as realistic as they possibly could. Once the final product appeared on-screen, executives decided the images were simply ‘too realistic’ for a cartoon!
The art we see in the movie is still pretty darn good though!
5. Albert Brooks had everyone in stitches
This one probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise…
Albert Brooks was already a very well-known actor and comedian before he joined the cast of Finding Nemo. He voiced Marlin, the worried father who trailed around the ocean with Dory looking for his beloved son.
One day the producers decided to let Brooks loose and allowed him to spend an entire day in the recording studio just improvising time and again. He kept doing takes of the anemone joke in particular and apparently no two recordings were messed up in quite the same way.
As a result, the recording technicians were in stitches for the duration. Apparently Brooks was always Stanton’s first choice to play Marlin. But sadly Brooks didn’t enjoy his work on the feature length cartoon at all.
He hated having to record in isolation and missed having other actors around him.
4. There’s a really cool Star Wars crossover
You might not have spotted this amazing Star Wars crossover the first time round.
Remember the scene were Nigel is trying to escape the torrent of seagulls? At one point he pulls off an acrobatic display and narrowly passes between the mast and the mainsail of a yacht. This was inspired by a scene in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
In that particular film, Harrison Ford’s character Han Solo is flying his ship, the Millennium Falcon, through a really narrow canyon to evade some TIE fighters. In both Star Wars and Finding Nemo, each ‘pilot’ rolls up at the last second to fly through an opening and escape.
So Nigel has the same piloting expertise as Han Solo. Cool!
3. Finding Nemo: The Essential Guide reveals an interesting fact about Jacques
Jacques was one of the lesser-known stars of Finding Nemo.
But fans of the movie still loved his performance and he was memorable as the French shrimp who loves to try and keep the fish tank clean. And according to the Finding Nemo fact guide, he has a very interesting back story!
Yep, Jacques the cleaner shrimp was actually one of the pets of the President of France! So how did he end up all the way in Australia? Dr. Sherman must be a really good dentist because the President gave Jacques to Sherman as a gift.
Also, remember Deb from the fish tank? Her ‘alter go’ or reflection is named ‘Flo’ – as in ebb and flow, like the tide
2. Darla is a feminist icon (kind of)
Darla actually has a very special place in the Pixar universe.
Yep, that’s right. The diminutive girl with braces was actually the first ever female main villain to feature in a Pixar movie, paving the way for future generations of little girls to realise that they can be just as mean as guys if they want.
Of course, she was also the first villain ever to have the shortest amount of screen time (we always see Darla referred to through the picture in Sherman’s office). So there you have it! Darla might be considered to be a feminist icon in the world of cartoon films.
Either way she’s pretty darn scary…
1. Sea turtles can actually live for up to 152 years
Crush doesn’t seem like a pensioner at first glance, but in turtle years he might well be!
According to an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, sea turtles are able to live for up to 152 years, which means that Crush is technically an old man.
In the film he reveals that he’s 150 years old…
Crush also said that he ‘felt young at age’ which is pretty sweet considering that in real terms, he’s probably nearing the end of his life.
Did you know all of these facts about Finding Nemo? Let us know in the comments section below!