Meet the Man Behind Finding Dory’s Hank: Ed O’Neil

O'Neil gives us his perspective on voicing the new complicated creature from Disney/Pixar's long-awaited sequel
Hank is voiced by Ed O'Neil. Photo Courtesy: Disney

Arturo Hilario/El Observador

In Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) meets a slew of new friends and old one’s as well. One of these critters is the ex-octupus (a lost tentacle made him a “septopus”) Hank, whose grumpy demeanor clashes with the go-getting, but forgetful Dory. We recently spoke to the voice behind the crimson colored aquatic creature, Ed O’Neil. He gave us the scoop on what it’s like portraying Pixar’s most technically challenging creature to date.

What is Hank all about? We first see him in his home at the Marine Biology Institute of California, but what are his motivations?

Well he’s in that place, you get the feeling he’s been in there a long time he’s kind of a damaged guy. He doesn’t trust people he’s phobic, he doesn’t like the touch pools, he likes to be left alone, he’s retreated from life. (Hank) wants to stay in the shadows and eventually get shipped out to Cleveland where there’s no petting pools and where the hope is he’s left alone.

Dory comes to the Marine Institute with the intent of finding her family. Hank is really the first character she meets at the center. How does this encounter and relationship affect Dory?

It ends up changing her life. It changes both their lives because what starts out as a relationship built on a mutual need hank needs her tag to Cleveland and she needs Hank to show her where her parents might be and then through that adventure of trying to get there they start to bond and they both benefit from the relationship.

What was it like working with the Pixar team on this character?

Well first of all you have to say that the animation department really did a genius job with Hank, an amazing creation, spectacular movement and working with Andrew Stanton and the team was very nice. They could not have been more helpful, friendly. They’re professional, they work very hard so when you’re in a session it’s rewarding, they help you, they guide you it was a very positive experience.

Any difference in the acting process compared to your voice work in Wreck-It-Ralph?

It was different because in Wreck-It-Ralph the character was a nerdy guy who didn’t get too excited so it didn’t take a lot of effort to do it but this Hank was a whole different ball game and hank was under a lot of stress and duress trying to hide from people and try to get out of situations that were making him anxious and you’re to get him and dory across like a minefield of problems so it took a lot of energy. So there was a certain level of anxiety that had to be reached for relatively every scene. So it took a lot of governing. I didn’t want to go too overboard, I didn’t want to do too little, I didn’t want to sound the same in every scene. And so it was technical.

What should movie goers expect when they go watch Finding Dory?

I think what they can expect is to see a beautifully made movie that looks amazing. The characters are well drawn and well written, the storylines are compelling and I think they’re universal themes that are humorous and touching and they should go see this movie because they’ll really enjoy it.

And finally, do you have a favorite aquatic animal Ed?

I guess i like to eat Mahi-mahi (laughs).

Finding Dory is now playing at a theater near you.

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