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‘Finding Nemo’ fish spoke in his voice, and Albert Brooks was hooked

** FILE ** Dory center left Marlare surrounded by school moonfish this scene from The Walt Disney Co.'s animated film

** FILE ** Dory, center left, and Marlin are surrounded by a school of moonfish in this scene from The Walt Disney Co.'s animated film "Finding Nemo," in this undated promotional photo. Revenues increased 6.9 percent to $6.2 billion compared to $5.8 billion in the same quarter last year as "Finding Nemo," produced in conjunction with Pixar Animation Studios, set box office records. (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios)

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Updated: October 10, 2012 6:15AM

Albert Brooks fondly recalls the day he was reeled in to star in “Finding Nemo.”

“The director did the most amazing thing. I wasn’t just asked if I wanted to do the film. I was taken into a screening room where these animators took a scene from my movie ‘Defending Your Life’ and put it into the mouth of a fish,” he says.

“I sat in the dark watching his fish talking to one of the life judges in ‘Defending Your Life’ and thought I had just taken some kind of drug. It was very clever and I was just blown away by it.

“I went home and told my wife that they should remake all of my movies in an animated form. Maybe we could have a lizard playing my role [as a perspiration-prone TV reporter] in ‘Broadcast News,’ although I guess that wouldn’t work. Lizards don’t experience flop sweat. I guess I would have to be turned into an animated buffalo.”

His animated fish was Marlin, a dad whose little guppy Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) goes AWOL in Pixar’s 2003 blockbuster.

He never met DeGeneres on the set. “That’s fine,” he says. “A good director knows how to put it all together, so it’s seamless.”

In a re-release opening Friday, “Nemo” gets the 3-D treatment, and Brooks isn’t surprised there’s interest from a new generation. “There was something going on that rose above what everyone could have hoped for with the movie. Frankly, that happens once in a blue moon with any movie,” he says.

“People will say to me, ‘Didn’t you know it was special when you were filming it?’ ” he asks. “The truth is nobody knew anything. At the time the film was about to be released, all these stories were playing out in the press. I read that Pixar was in trouble. I read, ‘Who is going to see this fish movie?’

“In the end, there is something about this story that resonates,” he says. “The thing about ‘Nemo’ is that you can put the movie on for your kids, hear it from another room and wander in to watch a few minutes because it works. It kicks into a gear all its own.”

Brooks knows about shifting into new gears. He’s working on follow-up to his novel 2030 and has a choice role opposite Paul Rudd as his father in this fall’s “This is 40.” The film takes the characters from “Knocked Up” and updates them in midlife.

Now 65, Brooks knows something about hitting his stride post 50.

“Aging is strange,” he says. “I didn’t feel 50 until I hit 54. One morning, I woke up and I felt like 90.

“My advice about aging is to hang out with people much older than yourself. You will always be the youngest. Right now, my three best friends are 100. My best buddy is on a ventilator. I eat dinner at 3 p.m., but it’s still good.”

He eats rights, works out and laments that he can’t find the true secret of longevity.

“If only worrying made you healthy,” he poses. “I looked up worrying, and there is no calorie count to it.”

Big Picture News Inc.

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