In Finding Nemo, Ellen DeGeneres's memory-challenged alter ego Dory preaches, "Fish are friends, not food." It's a message the rookie talk-show host took to heart. "I [gave up eating fish] for a little while," she tells TV Guide Online. "It was kind of hard — especially [after doing the scene] where the fish go, 'Swim down!' [to avoid getting caught in a fisherman's net].' You don't want fish again after that, [but] then you go have sushi."
Even if Nemo doesn't propel the funny lady hook line and sinker into vegetarianism, DeGeneres insists she's still a changed woman. And judging by the heaps of cash the film reeled in at the box office — Nemo's $330 million in receipts make it the biggest animated movie of all time — it's safe to say DeGeneres wasn't the only person thinking twice before biting into her shrimp tempura.
"Just like Pixar [made people] care about toys [with Toy Story, Nemo makes] you care about our environment and what is happening to our ocean and the coral reef. It helps kids understand that there is a world down there that we are disrupting. All [those sea creatures] have little families."
Well, Pixar doesn't deserve all the credit for bringing Nemo's underworld population to glorious life. DeGeneres's pitch-perfect voice work made Dory one of the year's most beloved movie characters. But don't expect Oscar to give her any props come February; the Academy doesn't recognize voice talent. And yep, the former sitcom star is mighty crabby about it. "They absolutely should be nominated," she maintains. "I don't want to toot my own horn, but I think it is harder [than traditional acting]. No one sees any facial expression or any kind of body movement at all; you have to do it all with your voice. I found it very hard."
That said, DeGeneres is game to dive back in for the inevitable sequel. "Disney and Pixar have to make that deal right now," she says of Nemo 2, "but everybody is all for it." Reminded that Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz will pocket upwards of $5 million apiece for Shrek 2, DeGeneres jokes, "Then I'll make $12 million."