It has been 14 years since we last saw Nemo and his friends in the deep blue sea, but that also means we haven’t heard them either.
“Finding Dory” takes place just a year after the end of “Finding Nemo”, but while the story didn’t age too much, the voice of the characters themselves had no choice but to. Those years had much of its effect on Alexander Gould who voiced Nemo.
Puberty and adolescence made his voice deeper and more mature as they do, so filmmakers on the sequel film had to find the younger voice that needed to match the part for a still growing Nemo.
After searching far and wide, they found 12-year-old Hayden Rolence who had the most similarity to Gould’s voice. The 6th grader from Aurora, Illinois was quickly put into an iconic role, albeit an animated one and he knew it. According to him, the pressure was on.
“I wanted to do justice to the character,” he told me in our interview at the film’s global press junket. “I was nervous when I was cast because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.”
Rolence hadn’t done too much prior to getting the part of Nemo. He performed in some other voice acting roles in smaller projects, but this was his first major role – and that came with a lot of perks.
“I got to work with so many talented and famous people!”, he said. “Andrew [Stanton] (the director), Albert Brooks…they taught me a lot.” During the recording sessions, Stanton also taught him to transfer an emotion purely through his voice by saying one word in different ways. “I had to say the word ‘dad’ about a thousand times, but that’s OK. I know why we did,” he said with confidence.
While I’m sure that confident spirit was put out for the press that day, our chat revealed the normal kid he really was when he told me that he liked to hang out with his friends and go swimming – just like Nemo.
He said, “I hope all my friends and the other kids who hear me are reminded of Nemo. Like him, I’m like any other kid who loves adventure, family, and friends. I just act, too.”
With that “just keep swimming” attitude and kid-at-heart spirit, there’s no doubt that he won’t be disappointment his next co-stars and future fans anytime soon.
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