Here's how Ellen DeGeneres inspired the role of Dory in 'Finding Nemo'

Dory, the beloved blue fish, was almost a boy.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

"Finding Nemo" fans first fell in love with Dory, the forgetful blue fish voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, when the blockbuster Pixar classic hit theaters in 2003. Dory proved so popular, she scored her own sequel, "Finding Dory," in 2016.

So, it's surprising to learn that Dory was originally supposed to be a boy.

During a virtual interview Thursday with the Los Angeles Times, Andrew Stanton, the franchise's director and co-writer, said he'd initially imagined Dory as a male fish. "To be honest, I had this really dumb, male, naive view that the guide that should take the father through should be a male fish,” Stanton said. "And it just didn’t work for about six months to a year."

Ellen DeGeneres and writer-director Andrew Stanton in 2015.Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Stanton changed his mind after catching DeGeneres doing a hilarious bit on TV.

"I heard (DeGeneres) change the sentence — the subject of a sentence — five times before she got from beginning to the end," he said. "And a light bulb went off that was an appealing, progressive way to be able to do short-term memory that wouldn’t get old really quick."

"And then I couldn’t get her ... voice out of my head, and suddenly all the writer’s block I had just unloaded. And then I started to think,'Well, why not? Why can’t it be a female? And why can’t it be a platonic relationship?'"

The character of Dory, above, was originally meant to be a male fish, revealed Stanton, who changed his mind after watching DeGeneres on TV.(C)Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

"Finding Nemo" follows as plucky Dory, a blue tang who suffers from acute short-term memory loss, joins a clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) on an ocean journey to find his missing son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). The sequel reunites all three characters (and introduces new favorites) as it focuses on Dory searching to find her long lost parents.

While promoting "Finding Dory" in 2016, DeGeneres told one interviewer that fans adore Dory because she's kind.

"There's not one speck of judgment in her or meanness or anything," said the comedian. "I think that's what people love so much about this character, this fish, because she's just happy."