‘Finding Dory’ finds new Nemo with Hayden Rolence

Rolence, 11, replaced Alexander Gould, who, now 22, has outgrown the role.

Despite having his name dropped from the big type at the start of the film, the diminutive Nemo plays a significant role in the animated sequel “Finding Dory.”

The new film is set shortly after the end of “Finding Nemo,” in which Nemo gets separated from his dad, Marlin, who searches for his son with the help of the forgetful blue fish Dory. Now, it’s up to the father-and-son team to track down Dory, who is missing.

While the voice actors of Marlin and Dory — Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres — both return, 11-year-old newcomer Hayden Rolence takes over the voice of Nemo from Alexander Gould, who, now 22, has outgrown the role.

amNewYork spoke with Rolence about the film.

Were you a big fan of “Finding Nemo”?

I was just really excited to do “Finding Dory” because I was a really big fan of “Finding Nemo” when I was younger. I was excited to be the voice of Nemo and I was really astonished. Originally I was in disbelief. I was like, “You guys are joking with me, right?”

How did you land the gig?

What happened was, they sent me a script with scenes from the first movie, “Finding Nemo,” and that was pretty easy at least because I was able to watch the movie again and do my lines. And I must have been pretty decent at least, because they sent me a second script, which were scenes not from the first movie. That was a bit hard because I didn’t have anyone or anything to copy.

Was it hard to capture the Nemo voice?

Originally, at the beginning, it took a little bit of a long time. Eventually it sort of got a bit easier after I practiced a lot.

Do you have a favorite moment from each film?

I really like the shark meeting — “fish are friends, not food” meeting. It was just really funny. I loved that. It really made me laugh. I don’t really have a favorite moment from the new film. I just love all of it so much.

A lot of people got pet clown fish after “Finding Nemo” came out. Did you get one?

I don’t have one right now. My dad used to have an aquarium and we had a clown fish in there and I had a really good time owning a lot of fish. But then my dad took down the aquarium because it was a lot of work. I really love fish, so I go fishing a lot. I love swimming. I love being able to be around fish.

What do your friends think? Are they calling you Nemo?

Yeah, they do sort of call me Nemo all the time. But I did have to keep it a secret for a little while. I knew about this since two years ago, but I was only allowed to tell people since last August. When my friends finally did find out, they were really excited and happy for me. But some of them were in disbelief. They were like, “You’re not Nemo, are you?”

Do you want to be an actor when you grow up?

I do think I want to be an actor in the future, but I am leaving my options open. I’m leaving acting as an option for what I do when I get older, but I also have a couple of other things open. So, I don’t know!

How has your experience been doing all this press for the film?

Mostly everybody that I have been with that has done an interview or wanted to take pictures or wanted to have anything signed by me was really, really nice. I was just really excited to be the voice of Nemo and I’m still astonished. I’m still thinking, “When am I going to wake up?”

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