Ellen Degeneres was fast going broke and didn’t have any representation when she was offered the role of forgetful clown fish Dory in ‘Finding Nemo’.
The comedienne was out of work and recovering from the cancellation of her hit comedy show, Ellen when Andrew Stanton offered her the role that was to turn her fortunes around – and her career.
“Andrew Stanton, who wrote and directed ‘Finding Nemo’, he has this character Dory and she has short-term memory loss and he’s trying to figure out how you make that funny without offending someone,” Ellen said during a pre-taped interview with David Letterman for his ‘My Guest Needs no Introduction’ Netflix show.
She admitted she was stunned to get the call as no one had been booking her for three years after she ‘came out’ as a lesbian in Time magazine and on her canceled TV show. She didn’t even have an agent.
“I moved out of Los Angeles and I went to Ojai just to get out of L.A. and I was just kind of by myself and running out of money…,” she adds. “He (Stanton) is this animation nerd, so he probably hadn’t seen Time magazine or heard all the stuff about me…
“He hears in the background on the TV this rambling person who starts a subject but then goes way, way off and never comes back to it, which is what I used to do on the sitcom… and he’s like, ‘That’s Dory!’ And so he tracked me down and said, ‘Please say yes to this; I’m writing this with you in mind, and I was like, ‘I have nothing to do, of course, I’m going to say yes to this’.
“I got paid scale; it was like $75,000 for three years of work… I was living the life.”
Ellen then had a chance encounter with an astrologer, who lived across the street from her – and suddenly her life looked a lot brighter.
“I go to this woman’s treehouse and she hasn’t combed her hair for a long time… and she says to me, ‘When you are 45 years old you are going to start a brand new job… You’re gonna be more famous than you’ve ever been, you’re gonna make more money than you’ve ever made.”
DeGeneres was skeptical because Hollywood bosses considered women over 40 “done” at the time, and there was nothing to suggest her neighbor’s reading was even close to correct.
“When I was 45, I started my talk show,” Ellen added. “I talk to her every year now. She’s always right.”