Cast of Characters
The outrageous comedy of "Shrek" is largely delivered by a voice cast that ranks among the most impressive ever assembled for an animated film... or any film for that matter. "We were so lucky to get the cast we have," Warner says. "Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow are the cream of the crop of comedic talent."
The title role of "Shrek" is voiced by Mike Myers, who offers that doing his first animated role "was a blast, which is a good thing because I had no idea making an animated film took so long. I was 19 when I started this movie," he jokes. "I wanted to do this project for two reasons: I wanted the opportunity to work with Jeffrey
Katzenberg; and it's a great story about accepting yourself for who you are. We live in a society with a warped sense of who's beautiful and who's not, and I think the message of this movie is that everyone is beautiful. The story makes a compelling argument for that truth in a very cool way."
It's a good thing Myers feels that way, especially when he is asked to describe his character. "Shrek is a big, green, disgusting, scary oaf... which I'm sure is why they cast me. Thank you, Dream Works," he smiles.
Physical similarities aside, the filmmakers credit Myers as being integral to the creation of the character as a whole.
"Maybe to look at, Shrek is no dreamboat, but Mike understood the heart and soul of the character and brought out his wonderful lovable qualities. In the
way he brought Shrek's words to life, Mike gave him his heart, and we were able to mold our physical character around his voice," Katzenberg states.
Some of the character's dialogue was also molded around Myers' fertile imagination. Adamson notes, "We spent a lot of time in the studio discovering who Mike Myers as Shrek was, and experimenting with different voices and different accents. 1'he truth is, when you cast Mike Myers in a role, you don't just get Mike Myers; you get the plethora of characterizations he can create. He is the best at inventing a character and stepping into it, and once he's in it, he stays in it—--even between takes—-which gave him a great base from which to start improvising. The improv moments are gold; those are the moments that give the animators the most to go on, because at that point, it's not a written piece of dialogue, it's a character come to life.''
Many of those golden moments came in the performance of Eddie Murphy as Shrek's loyal friend, the Donkey. "Eddie is so funny, we never
knew what would happen in his sessions," Jenson says. "We just knew he took the lines and made them his own, and he could make you
fall on the floor laughing with his interpretation of even a single word."
No stranger to playing animated characters, Murphy was previously the voice of Mushu the Dragon in the animated epic "Mulan." The actor offers that bringing a character to life in animation is far different from a live-action performance.
"Animation is a much more collaborative process than acting with my body and my face. It's a trip to have the director ask for a small
inflection in your voice, and then, when the scene is drawn, you see how that slight change brings out the emotion. Another reason I like doing animated films is that, when they're done right, they're timeless, and my kids really get into them. I explained to them that Daddy is playing a jackass in
'Shrek,' and they really got a kick out of it. They love hearing their father's voice come out of a cartoon; I would imagine that would be a kick for any kid."
Beyond the family appeal, Murphy appreciated the underlying theme of "Shrek," which he related to one of his own biggest hits. "It has a similar theme to
'The Nutty Professor' that you should love yourself for who you are and that beauty is on the inside, not on the outside.
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