Dream Job | Hayden Rolence

August 2016 View more


Hayden Rolence, an Aurora resident, hooked a dream job in a Pixar-Disney movie as the beloved voice of ‘Nemo,’ that adorable orange and white clownfish in the new summer blockbuster movie, “Finding Dory.” It’s been 13 years since the Academy-Award-winning film “Finding Nemo” premiered and a younger voice was needed for the sequel. Rolence had worked as a model and an actor in a few smaller projects, but nothing as colossal as this iconic role. And the great thing about it—he was the one who made it happen, through his hard work and determination at the tender age of only eight years old.

How did you get the dream voice part of Nemo in “Finding Nemo?”

Pixar sent me a script with scenes from “Finding Nemo.” I just watched that movie (from 2003), then I practiced the script, then I watched the movie, then I did the script again, and I did that over and over and over again. Eventually, I was able to make my voice sort of sound like Nemo because they sent me a second script, which were scenes that weren’t from the first movie. I had to actually think about that a bit more because I couldn’t copy from the first Nemo.

So you were eight years old when you auditioned for the part and were 9, 10, and 11 years old when you worked on the movie. You worked at both Disney Studios in LA and Pixar Studios near San Francisco. What can you tell us about those workplaces for people?

It was really fun to be at Pixar because they had life-sized 3D models of things from Pixar movies (giant lamp logo, characters from the movies). On the floor, you could find little silhouettes of the characters in the marble floor. They have basketball hoops, guitars, a pool table, games, and snacks. I also got to do my tutoring in Steve Jobs’ old office. It was so fun at Disney; they have little squirrels that are so used to people that they just come up to you, and you can feed them out of your hand. We could also visit movie or TV sets.

How did the director get you in the correct mindset for your scenes? Did he use storyboards, especially when you are usually in a room by yourself when recording?

Yes, they have a little video of not completely animated scenes from the movie just to show what everybody’s reaction is to what I’m actually doing in the scene. Then they would show my character, Nemo, and how he’d look in the scene. The animators draw little pencil drawings of Nemo. If I’m scared, then it’ll show Nemo’s reaction as being very scared.

Having done a little voice-over work myself, I know it isn’t as easy as it looks. What did you learn from your experiences at Disney and Pixar?

I’ve learned that doing an animated movie and getting people to do the correct voiceover is very hard work. Animation needs a lot of ideas, editors, animators, and an entire team of people just to make one hour of filming. Also, sometimes they wanted me to say the same word 20 times or more, just to say it differently.

What makes the Nemo role, meeting Ellen DeGeneres, and the Red Carpet Hollywood film premiere experience a dream job for you?

I never thought that I would be able to be in a movie. I thought that I was just going to be doing commercials, short films, or student films. It’s a dream job because it’s not just a movie—it’s a ‘Pixar-animated Disney’ movie.