Ogre Excited

Some ogres have all the luck...

We love this film. Not quite in a take it home and have its babies kind of way — but close. And everyone we know who’s seen it loves it, too. And so will you. John Millar goes behind the scenes of the animated adventure of the summer!

From Film Review July 2001

ONCE UPON a time a grumpy, green ogre called Shrek lived happily in a swamp… until his world was turned pear-shaped by the arrival of a bunch of fairy tale characters who were far too cute for his taste. This is a world where conventions are turned upside-down. The princess isn’t as much of a damsel in distress as you’d imagine. the bad guy tortures a gingerbread man, Robin Hood has a French accent and the gags come fast and furiously. It’s such a load of laughs that Shrek is now being talked about as a red-hot favourite to collect the first Oscar in the newly created animation category.

Mike Myers: grumpy ogre not shownAlmost universal acclaim has been handed out to the performances of the all-star voice talent cast: Eddie Murphy as the donkey who can’t stop talking, John Lithgow as the puffed up midget aristocrat who wants more power, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, and, of course, Mike Myers who is the anti-social ogre Shrek.

Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg praises all his stars, but it’s significant that he pays particular attention to Myers whom he says “understood the heart and soul of the character”. Myers, who makes his animation début in Shrek, tells Film Review that it had been three things that persuaded him to agree to become the voice behind a green ogre who lives in a swamp.

“First there was the chance to work with Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow, who are all brilliant and great. I love Jeffrey Katzenberg, so it was a great chance to work with him. And the message of the movie is so well told and done in the best way, which is through humour and adventure and stuff,” says Myers. The star says that the movie’s message is straightforward: “Accept who you are and be happy with who you are, and don’t succumb to the pressure of what the media tells you is beautiful and what you should be looking like. I think that when I have kids and grandchildren I will be very, very proud to have them watch this movie. I feel that the people at DreamWorks and PDI have created a classic fairy tale and I’m very honoured to be part of it.”

Cameron Diaz: it's in the eyesMyers only had a clay model of Shrek to help him understand what the ogre might look like. Cameron Diaz jokes that she was open-mouthed when she saw a drawing of Princess Fiona for the first time. “I went, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ I couldn’t believe that they actually did that. They created this character that looks nothing like me but has this essence that is me. I can see it in the eyes, the gestures and the movement.”

The process of getting under the skin of Princess Fiona meant that Cameron Diaz started to feel as though she really got to know her cartoon character. “What I found interesting about her was that she judged herself so harshly,” says Cameron. “She learned to love and accept Shrek for who he was. Initially she judged him and then got to know him and realized that she cared about him. But she learned her lesson and learned to accept people for who they are and accept herself for who she was. She was able to receive love and to give love. That was what I liked about her, that she became a better person. I really like that about her because the challenge is to learn your lessons and apply them to your life...”

Film Review May 2001 issue For more from all four stars - Myers, Diaz, Murphy and Lithgow - plus producer Katzenberg, read on in the 606th issue of Film Review...

Shrek opens on June 29 and is distributed by UIP.
It's also our Film of the Month, reviewed here

Images copyright: UIP
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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