Finding Dory is the long-awaited followup to Disney/Pixar's 2003 animated hit Finding Nemo, with voice cast members Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks reprising their Nemo roles here as the forgetful Dory and still-somewhat-neurotic Marlin, respectively. The story this time, as crafted by Victoria Stouse (October Road) and Finding Nemo/Dory director Andrew Stanton, picks up six months after the events of Finding Nemo - as Dory recalls key details about her life before she met Marlin and Nemo (including, the location of her parents) and journeys to her old home in the waters of Monterey, California, in the hope of being reunited with the family (and friends) that she left behind.
The Finding Dory trailers released to date have offered glimpses at some of the new characters that Dory encounters on her way to finding her parents in the film, including the curmudgeonly octopus Hank (voiced by Modern Family's Ed O'Neill) and a friend that Dory had forgotten in the cheerful whale shark Destiny (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Kaitlin Olson). Additional characters images from the Finding Nemo sequel have now been released, providing the first look at other new players in the next chapter of Dory's tale.
Courtesy of USA Today, we now know that the former The Wire costars Idris Elba (who recently voiced Police Chief Bogo in Disney's Zootopia and voices Shere Khan in the upcoming The Jungle Book) and Dominic West (The Affair) are voicing the sea lions Fluke and Rudder, respectively, in Finding Dory. Stanton informed USA Today that he approached Elba and West about voicing the characters in his Finding Nemo sequel after he couldn't stop imagining the Fluke and Rudder characters as having "Guy Ritchie-type East London gangster" voices, adding:
"Idris and Dominic are well-trained, dramatic, Shakespearean actors, but they can do comedy like nobody’s business. They just ran with it. They played jolly and lazy really well. But the truth is, I really wanted to witness a Wire reunion. So we got them together."
Other members of the Finding Dory ensemble include O'Neill's fellow Modern Family star Ty Burrell as Bailey, the beluga whale, as well as Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory's parents Jenny and Charlie, respectively. Stanton told USA Today that although Dory's mother and father do not have their daughter's memory loss issues, the duo nonetheless have "a certain amount of absentmindedness" to them - as Jenny has some of Keaton's "'Annie Hall' la-de-da quality" to her, while Charlie has a well-meaning (but terrible) sense of humor that suggests the character may have shades of Levy's American Pie character, too. You can check out all of the aforementioned new characters (and more) in the images below.
Also featured above are images of a loon and the sea otters from Finding Dory, both of which it seems will serve as sources of comedy in the movie similar to how the seagulls did in Finding Nemo before them. Although trailers for Finding Dory have confirmed that a number of familiar faces will be popping up in the Pixar sequel (that includes the sea-surfing turtle Crush, as voiced by Stanton), the movie will expand its focus to include plenty of species that were not featured in Finding Nemo, in addition to the sea otters, sea lions, and the like. As Stanton put it:
"The ocean is teeming with literally millions of species. People don’t want to feel like they just spent the movie in a pond. There are just certain species of animals or fish that are fun to watch in real life and you can’t help but to throw a character on them. If they can find a home in Dory’s story, great. It’s a win-win."
Pixar sequels past haven't shied away from exploring new areas in the sandboxes established by their predecessors (even Cars 2 took its main characters on a journey around the globe), so it's not surprising to see that Finding Dory will be following suit in that regard and incorporating many a new oceanic character into the mix. Perhaps the big question hanging over the head of the Finding Nemo followup is whether or not it can deliver a thematically-rich and well-crafted storyline on par with its Oscar-winning predecessor, too. After all, while the Toy Story sequels are generally regarded to be as emotionally-complex as the original Toy Story, Pixar's other sequels/prequels have tended to fall in the category of being fun, yet less substantial, reunions with popular Pixar characters (see Cars 2, Monsters University). We will find out where Finding Dory falls on that scale in a few months, but until then there's fair reason to think this film can be as playful (and funny) as everything else Pixar has done to date.
Finding Dory opens in U.S. theaters on June 17th, 2016.