As Shrek Forever After takes the world by storm, we sit down with stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas
After challenging an evil dragon, rescuing a beautiful princess and saving your in-laws’ kingdom, what’s an ogre to do? Well, if you’re Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), you suddenly wind up a domesticated family man. Instead of scaring villagers away like he used to, Shrek Forever After sees Shrek a reluctant local celebrity who autographs pitchforks. What’s happened to this ogre’s roar?
Longing for the days when he felt like a “real ogre,” Shrek is duped into signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). Shrek suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate reality of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have never met. Now, it’s up to Shrek to undo all he’s done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one true love.
Returning for the adventure are Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) as well as a few new faces and ogres (Craig Robinson as Cookie) and a conniving villain in Rumpelstiltskin.
We sat down with Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas at a press conference in Los Angeles, which was moderated by US TV host Ryan Seacrest who has a cameo in the film. The actors talked to us about their characters, their favorite moments of the past decade of Shrek, and why they think the franchise has been so successful. Antonio also told us about his upcoming Puss in Boots spin-off. Here’s what they had to say:
[Ryan Seacrest] Mike, looking back at the Shrek movies, what’s been one of your favorite moments over the last 10 years?
MIKE MYERS When Jeffrey [Katzenberg] said ‘Would you like to be in an animated movie?’, I said, ‘Yes’. He said, ‘It’s a movie called Shrek’. I said, ‘That’s the worst title I’ve ever heard in my life!’ I didn’t know what it was going to be. The first time I saw it with an audience the line, ‘But you are beautiful to me,’ got gasps. People were so into the whole romance and the whole heart of it that I was just blown away. It was something that people could be invested in and I think that’s been the most satisfying thing for me.
[Ryan Seacrest] Cameron, the emotion of this one goes back to the roots of the first one a little bit, doesn’t it?
CAMERON DIAZ Yes. I think you get to see true love happen all over again for the first time between Shrek and Fiona because they get to find one another. It’s the moment that you’re talking about—your favorite moment from the first movie that you get to experience all over again. You get to take that journey with them of finding that love again. You open up on two of them in the routine of a life that they’ve taken for granted—Shrek has for sure — and then you get to see him journey back through trying to regain finding his true love. You get to fall in love with Shrek and Fiona all over again.
[Ryan Seacrest] Antonio, how much fun have you had making these movies?
ANTONIO BANDERAS A lot actually. And it’s unexpected. Because I came to this country without speaking the language, then I found [the fact that] they called me to use my voice very surprising. [I have] fun every time at recording sessions and still do. I had a lot of fun. And also memories, I remember when we opened at the Cannes Film Festival. It was outstanding to me, you know, a beautiful moment we had. And also, I had fun promoting the film around the world.
And now Puss in Boots is getting his own movie; tell us about that.
BANDERAS It’s sad in one side, but very satisfying. Actually, sometimes as you are playing against pop culture, you become pop culture itself. That’s what it is now. I was in NY this year, and watching the Thanksgiving parade from my house. Here it was, the Shrek big balloon just crossing in front of my window and behind him was Mickey Mouse! It became part of American pop culture right now and I am thinking it was beautiful what we have done over the 10 years of working. I hope it goes well. But it’s totally different.It goes in a different direction and takes more from Sergio Leone’s kind of 60s movies, probably Western. We divide the screens and stuff like that. It is a lot of fun too, but it is a different context.
Would you want to revisit Shrek in 10 years from now?
MYERS The final chapter reunion movie? Yes, sure. I just play the voice. I don’t really know what goes on.
DIAZ It’s easy. People ask me if I’d do Charlie’s Angels 10 years from now and I’m like ‘What!’ It’s a little bit different fitting in those pants 10 years from now! But, Shrek of course is just we get to go back to whatever they will be 10 years from now. But, hopefully we don’t have to wait that long.
Fiona is very empowered in this movie. She’s a leader and a warrior…
DIAZ For me, Fiona’s always been a warrior. I’ve always seen her as that. She’s been a warrior of love through all of these films. What she’s worked for and what she fought for is the love that she has for herself and she has for Shrek and her family and friends. It’s just been a different tone for this film. Her responsibility is a little bit more obvious. She’s always been a warrior to me, and I think that is part of her nature, and it has given her all of the things in her life that she values.
Having known these characters for 12 years, did you notice any features in this movie that you hadn’t noticed before?
DIAZ Well, Antonio has quite a lot of features that he didn’t really have in any of the other movies!
BANDERAS We are not going to talk about sex right now!
DIAZ Oh good! I meant the abundance of weight that Puss in Boots carries in this movie.
MYERS Even as a fat cat, he still manages to be sexy!
Mike, in this movie, Shrek doesn’t want the attention anymore. He wants to go do the things he used to enjoy without people watching. Is there a parallel in your own life with the rise of your career?
MYERS I do now live in the swamp! I like my privacy. When I do something like this, I love being a part of this. And when I’m not doing stuff, I like to go away. I enjoy being a person a great deal. It’s hard to be super full of yourself in Canada. If there was a motto of Canada, it would be ‘Who do you think you are, eh?’ I think very good training just to be a person is growing up in Canada. People say a lot of things about Canada — that it’s boring and stuff, but if you look around the world, I think it’s a very civilized place to grow up. I’m very proud of Canada.
Do you think the message is skewed more towards the adults?
MYERS I think that Shrek is a little bit like Flintstones vitamins. You’re eating Barney and Dino and you don’t know it’s good for you. It has built in vitamins but the delivery system is very enjoyable. Would anyone like to hit me in the face right now?
DIAZ I think it’s for both adults and children. You’re never too old or too young to learn stuff and I think that’s the case with all the Shrek films and why they’re so successful. They’re not just speaking to one audience, they’re speaking to everyone. Anyone who watches it can understand exactly what Shrek and Fiona are going through and how it’s relevant to their own lives.
BANDERAS It’s about balance. There are always references of things that have to do with people of our age in the movie. I watched the first Shrek because I was not part of it and I loved it. At the same time, the first time that I saw it, I was with my baby and she just loved the adventure and the plot of the story. And I think we kept going in that direction for the four movies all the time.
Do you often put your voices on for kids to get reactions? Do kids ask you to?
BANDERAS It’s very weird. I remember a couple of times where a woman came to me once in a supermarket with her kid who was like five years old and said to me, ‘Look! Look! It’s Puss in Boots!’ The kid looks up to me and says ‘No, mom. That’s Zorro.’ You don’t know what to do in that circumstance. It’s weird.
MURPHY I’ve had people come up and do lines from the movie. They don’t really ask me to do the voice. The only time I really do the voice of Donkey is I can do a shadow puppet of the Donkey. When I’m watching a movie at home on the screen and the movie’s not good, I have the Donkey come up and do the commentary. [Demonstrates with the donkey’s voice]: ‘This movie ain’t shit!’ Sometimes I take the Shrek ears, the little green ones, I have this shadow of me and Shrek. We have some wild times in the house.
DIAZ Nobody asks me to do Fiona! But it’s actually the same thing as Antonio. I’ve had the parents come up and say ‘You know, this is Princess Fiona’. And the kids are literally holding back tears, you know. I always tell people ‘No’, and I try to stop them before they tell them. You know, as a kid you believe in the characters that you are watching. You are falling in love with them and you want to believe that they’re real. You don’t want to believe that there is a human being in there. The same way you want to believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, you don’t want what that meant to be ruined for them. Let Fiona’s existence be Fiona.
MYERS I’ve called kids that have the measles or are sick. And I am always shocked how incredibly accepting they are that Shrek is calling them. ‘Ah, Shrek. Good.’ Isn’t it just a little extraordinary? That’s the part that always kills me. ‘Can you put Toothfairy on now?’ Yeah, I will get the Toothfairy.
Eddie, is it easy for you to find Donkey? And if it was, why was that?
MURPHY I just do it. Whenever I am on camera or doing anything on mic, I don’t have any process at all. I just do it and when I’m finished, it goes away. There is no process. I wish there was some techniques to it. I just turn it on and off and then I go home.
Have you seen foreign versions of Shrek where your characters are speaking in another language?
DIAZ Yes, I have. I’ve seen bits. I have seen like the first 3 minutes of it probably in Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, and German, but only for 3 minutes. Because going to the premiere, you stay for the first 3 minutes and leave. And you have to be at the next country to promote it and the next country where you hear it for 3 minutes.
Antonio, do you get to do the Spanish version yourself?
BANDERAS Yes, I have seen it because I have to do it. I do two different versions – the standard Spanish version for Spain and another one for Latin America, and then the Italian version.
MYERS I did the Canadian version. And remarkably, it’s like the American version.
DreamWorks Animation are giving UK families the chance to see Shrek Forever After on June 1st – a full month before the film goes on national release! As part of National Family Week, DreamWorks has joined forces with Paramount Pictures and VUE cinemas for this one-off preview event, in which the film will screen across 63 VUE cinemas. For including ticket details visit myvue.com, and for more info on National Family Week visit nationalfamilyweek.co.uk.