CLOSE
Dreamworks
Dreamworks

15 Giant Facts About Shrek

Dreamworks
Dreamworks

Delayed significantly because of the death of its star, a full decade elapsed between the time Steven Spielberg bought the movie rights to a children’s book about an ornery green ogre and the day Shrek showed up in movie theaters. The Dreamworks project went from doomed to successful when the anti-fairy tale fairy tale became popular enough to spawn three sequels and a spin-off prequel, and critically acclaimed enough to become the first ever recipient of the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Here are 15 things you might not know about Shrek.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN BY AN 83-YEAR-OLD.

Shrek was loosely based on William Steig’s 1990 picture book, Shrek! Steig was a prolific cartoonist for The New Yorker and a children’s writer who Newsweek once dubbed the “king of cartoons.” Steig passed away at the age of 95 in 2003, two years after Shrek's release.

2. STEVEN SPIELBERG WANTED BILL MURRAY AND STEVE MARTIN TO PLAY SHREK AND DONKEY.

The mogul bought the rights to the book in 1991, picturing Shrek as a standard hand-drawn animated film for his Amblin Entertainment company with the two comedians in mind in the lead roles. He couldn’t get the project off the ground until years later though—after Dreamworks SKG, the studio he ran with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, came to be in 1994.

3. THE PRODUCER’S KIDS ARE WHAT FINALLY GOT SHREK A GREEN LIGHT.

John H. Williams’ tykes, a kindergartner and a pre-schooler, brought Shrek! to their producer father’s attention. The two children loved the book and read it multiple times. Williams brought it to Katzenberg, and the project finally got off the ground from there.

4. CHRIS FARLEY WAS THE ORIGINAL SHREK.

Farley was not only cast in the title role, but he had actually completed recording somewhere between 80 to 95 percent of his dialogue before he passed away in 1997. In the version of the film Farley worked on, Shrek was a teenage ogre who didn’t want to go into the family business and had aspirations of becoming a knight.

5. NICOLAS CAGE TURNED DOWN THE LEAD ROLE BECAUSE HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE AN OGRE.

Dreamworks executives considered Tom Cruise and Leonard DiCaprio for Shrek, until Katzenberg offered Nicolas Cage the part. Cage told the Daily Mail that he turned the role down because "I just didn't want to look like an ogre." Though, upon reflection, Cage realized that "Maybe I should have done it looking back."

6. MIKE MYERS DECIDED TO DO SHREK IN A SCOTTISH ACCENT AFTER SEEING A ROUGH CUT.

After first trying an SNL “Lothar of the Hill People” voice and a thick Canadian accent, Myers finally settled on the now distinct Scottish intonation. According to Katzenberg, the studio spent an additional $4 million to start all over again doing it Myers’ way. The star disputed that it was really that much of an added expense.

7. NOBODY TOLD MYERS THAT HE WAS REPLACING CHRIS FARLEY.

He said that he guessed correctly early in the process by just looking at a maquette of Shrek modeled on his former SNL co-star's physique, but nobody would confirm the truth to him. Myers didn’t find out until 2012.

8. JANEANE GAROFALO WAS THE ORIGINAL PRINCESS FIONA.

But she was fired from the project, and the comedian-actress still does not know why. A report stated that she was initially hired because her sarcasm would balance out Farley’s positivity, and with the change in the casting of Shrek, Fiona’s part needed to change as well.

9. DONKEY WAS MODELED AFTER A REAL MINIATURE DONKEY IN PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA.

Pericles, a.k.a. “Perry,” was born in 1994 and is from Barron Park, near the home of Dreamworks. His companion is Miner Forty-Niner, a.k.a. “Niner”, who is considered a donkey of “normal” size.

10. THE MOVIE WAS SUPPOSED TO LOOK MUCH DIFFERENT.

Shrek was conceived to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid, but a test screening for studio executives in the middle of 1997 was deemed unsatisfactory. Dreamworks’ production partners, PDI (Pacific Data Images), were then tasked with making the animation for all of Shrek’s 31 sequences, with 1,288 shots in each sequence, and 36 different locations.

11. THE FILMMAKERS WENT ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY.

Some members of the movie's development team took mud showers to study the movement of mud. Art director Douglas Rogers visited a magnolia plantation for research—and was chased away by an alligator.

12. THE MOVIE WAS SCREENED BY DREAMWORKS AND DISNEY LAWYERS TO AVOID POSSIBLE LAWSUITS.

Shrek was considered by some to be a series of jabs at Disney, with its general cynicism toward the traditional fairy tales that Disney had presented in movie form since 1937, Farquaad’s castle resembling Disneyland, and Farquaad’s diminutive stature possibly a reference to an infamous quote by Katzenberg’s former Disney boss Michael Eisner about his hatred of the former employee in a lawsuit. While there was no legal action, some Radio Disney affiliates did not allow Dreamworks to buy ad time to promote Shrek.

13. JOHN LITHGOW BROKE A PERSONAL RULE WHEN HE AGREED TO PLAY FARQUAAD.

The 6’4” actor always said he would never play anyone short, but he couldn’t pass up the Shrek role. He believed that part of the joke of his casting was the difference between his height and his character’s.

14. THE GINGERBREAD MAN CO-DIRECTED THE SEQUEL.

Conrad Vernon was a storyboard artist in the original, and directed Shrek 2 with Andrew Adamson and Kelly Asbury. When Vernon refused to direct the third film because directing the sequel took up too much time and his efforts, the voice of the Magic Mirror, Chris Miller, co-directed Shrek the Third.

15. THE MOVIE SAVED DREAMWORKS.

In 2007, Katzenberg said that Shrek not only saved the company financially speaking, but that it gave Dreamworks Animation an image that allowed them to make the Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon franchises.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Pop Chart Lab
arrow
Comics
The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
arrow
entertainment
Your $10 Donation Can Help an Underprivileged Child See A Wrinkle in Time for Free
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Theater chain AMC is teaming with the Give a Child the Universe initiative to help underprivileged kids see A Wrinkle in Time for free through ticket donations. The initiative was started by Color of Change, a nonprofit advocacy group that designs “campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.”

"Color of Change believes in the power of images and supports those working to change the rules in Hollywood so that inclusive, empathetic and human portrayals of black people and people of color are prominent on the screen,” the initiative’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, said in a statement:

Director Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is the perfect subject for the group because, as Robinson puts it, “By casting a black teenage actress, Storm Reid, as the heroine at the center of this story, the filmmakers and the studio send a powerful message to millions of young people who will see someone like them embracing their individuality and strength to save the world.”

The movie touts a diverse cast that includes Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine. The most important member of the cast, though, is 14-year-old Storm Reid, who plays the main character Meg Murry, a young girl who tries to save her father (Pine) who is trapped in another dimension. The movie is based on the acclaimed 1962 fantasy novel by author Madeleine L'Engle.

If you’d like to donate a ticket (or more), you can just head over to the Give a Child the Universe website and pledge an amount. AMC will provide one ticket to children and teens nationwide for every $10 given to the cause.

And if you’re interested in seeing the movie yourself, A Wrinkle in Time opens on March 9, 2018.

[h/t E! Online]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios