Moviehole was lucky enough to share the same space as Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn, John Hamm and Craig Robinson at the “Shrek Forever After” Press Conference in Los Angeles last week. Here are the answers to the media’s burning questions…
Mike, looking back over the “Shrek” movies, what’s been one of your favourite 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 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.
Eddie, what’s been the secret to success to “Shrek”?
Eddie Murphy: I think it’s funny and very well made.
Myers: Hold on – I just went on for 15 minutes. I wish I’d just done that.
Murphy: I think it’s that simple. It’s really well made. It’s very funny. It’s smart and those things add up to a hit sometimes.
Cameron, wouldn’t you say that the emotion in this film goes back to the roots of the beginning?
Cameron: Yeah. Since you get to see true love happen all over again between Shrek and Fiona, because they get to find one another, you get to experience that moment all over again. We get to take the journey with them, of finding that love again. You open up on the two of them in the routine of a life that they’ve taken for granted, and that Shrek has for sure, and then you get to see him journey back through trying to regain his true love. That, ultimately, is a beautiful and lovely story. You get to fall in love with Shrek and Fiona, all over again.
Antonio, how much fun have you had making these movies?
Antonio: A lot, actually.
Jon, how did you get the role of Brogan?
John: I don’t know. I don’t know why the character I play on TV would lend itself to be the first choice to be an animated character. I honestly don’t know, and I can’t believe I’m [in the film]. When it came my way and they were still trying to figure out what I was going to be – a love interest or a rival – they weren’t sure, but I was just like, “I don’t care. I just want to be a part of this.” I’ve loved the last three versions of this, and went and saw all of them in the theatre, like I was a 13-year-old. The pure fan in me was like, “I’ll go play somebody who talks backwards, on top of his head and turns around. I don’t even care.” The fact that they were able to work with me and my personality to create this person who is this cheerleader of sorts was fun to do.
Cameron and Mike, was it challenging to basically start over from scratch with these characters?
Mike :The writing is so great and all of the filmmakers are so committed to it being excellent that you’re just following the script.
Cameron: It’s well-structured and it’s clear, as to what the two of them are going through.
Mike: Mike Mitchell is a great director, and Jeffrey [Katzenberg] is a great filmmaker.
Cameron: The animators are the real actors. They put the looks in our eyes and the chemistry between us.
Antonio, how do you feel about Shrek ending and does the fact that there will be a Puss in Boots film make it any better?
Antonio: Well, it’s sad, on one side, but very satisfying. Shrek has become pop culture itself. I was in New York this year, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade from my house, and there was a big balloon of Shrek and behind him was Mickey Mouse. It was beautiful to see what this 10 years of work has done. So, it’s sad, on one side, but on the other side, we’re going to hopefully continue now, if it goes well. But, it’s totally different. What we’re doing so far is not the same narrative process as Shrek. It’s more Sergio Leone.
Q: Would you like to do another Shrek film, at some point?
Cameron: I’m in!
Mike: Yeah, sure. I just play the voice. I don’t really know what goes on.
Cameron: 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, with Shrek, we get to go back to wherever they will be, 10 years from now. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait that long.
Cameron, Fiona gets to be very empowered, as a leader and a warrior. Did you ever think she may have had a better life, if she went down that path instead?
Cameron: For me, Fiona always been a warrior. I’ve always seen her as a warrior of love, through all of these films. What she’s worked for and what she’s fought for is the love that she has for herself, and the love that she has for Shrek, her family and friends. So, she’s always been a warrior. It’s just in a different tone for this film. Her responsibilities are a little bit more obvious, as far as the resistance, but she’s always been a warrior to me. That is part of her nature, and it has given her all the things in her life that she loves.
What makes Shrek different from other fairy tales?
Jon: The great thing about this franchise is that it takes the classic fairy tale and puts it on its head. When the original book came out, there were quite a few books coming out that reworked and twisted fairy tales, and took the classic damsel-in-distress and swapped the roles.
With the 3-D, you can see features in the characters that you never noticed before. Was there anything new about your characters that you discovered?
Cameron: Antonio has quite a lot of features that he didn’t know he had, with the abundancy of the weight that Puss in Boots carries in the movie.
Mike: Even as a fat cat, he still manages to be sexy.
Mike, in this movie, Shrek doesn’t want the attention anymore and he just wants to be able to do what he enjoys without people watching. Is there a parallel to your own life, in that regard?
Mike: I like my privacy. I love being a part of [films], but 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?” Very good training to just be a person is growing up in Canada. People say a lot of things about Canada, like that it’s boring, but if you look around the world, you can praise boring. It’s a very civilized place to grow up. I’m very proud of it.
Jon, how did you find the transition of going from television to voice actor?
Jon: It was a lot easier and less demanding of me. My role in the film isn’t nearly as large of a role as on the television show. But, it’s a whole different kind of acting. You’re in a scene reading opposite people who’s performances you haven’t necessarily heard. The people who put this together make that all seem seamless. I was learning as I went along. The character wasn’t a defined character. It kept changing, and we’d go back in and redo it. Because this was a new character, the art involved with who this character was, was constantly shifted. That was a really fun process to be a part of because it’s not happening live. It’s inferred until they get it exactly right. And, when you’re in the hands of people that want it to be excellent, that’s a very comforting and welcoming feeling. So, I tremendously enjoyed it. It was a really interesting thing to learn, on the fly.
What do you love about your life, and what makes you happy, at this point in your life?
Mike: I love New York City. I love that I get to live there, and I love everything about it. I am in love with New York City.
Cameron: I am in love with life. I think it’s pretty awesome, when you are engaged in it. I love my family and my friends. The loves of my life are my friends and family, and the experience that I get to share with them. It puts a smile on my face and in my heart.
Eddie: I just love everything, and I love everyone. I love love. Love is a mother fucker! Does anybody not love love?
Mike: I have a love/hate relationship with love.
Antonio: When it comes to love, I will tell you that today, especially, I love the fact that I’ve been married for 14 years.
Eddie: What Cameron said is true. I think everybody loves being with their family and loves being around people who make them feel good. All those things that she said hit it right on for me. She pretty much nailed it.
What do you think young audiences will learn about love, from watching this film?
Jon: We live in a moment of time, right now, where people have a lot of information about a lot of people instantly, but it’s also surface information and it doesn’t really mean anything. The things that people were saying they love, and what they hold dear and really feel strongly about, are the things that are unquantifiable, and aren’t on your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, your instant message thing, the gossip columns or paparazzi photos. It’s truly getting to know people, and understanding and having a relationship with them, and trusting them and being vulnerable, and all that stuff. The journey that Shrek makes is taking his existence for granted. We’re all incredibly fortunate people, and I love having the opportunity to do what I do and what I love to do. The idea of taking that for granted, and not taking the time out to appreciate the ability to do that, is similar to not appreciating the people that you share your life with and that you love. That’s what Shrek and Fiona go through and rediscover. That’s what really resonates with kids, and why it appeals to not just little kids, but the kid in everybody.
Eddie, in this film, Donkey has many singing sequences. Do you have a different approach to the dialogue than you do with the singing?
Eddie: It’s really all the same. Whether you’re singing or doing a voice-over, it’s pretty much using the same muscle. There’s not really much of a difference.
Do you think the message of this film is geared more towards adults, this time around?
Mike: I think that Shrek is a little bit like Flinstones vitamins. You don’t know that it’s good for you, but it has built in vitamins and the delivery system is very enjoyable.
Cameron: I think it’s for both adults and children. You’re never too young or too old to learn these lessons, and that’s been the case with all of the Shrek films, and it’s 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, relevant to their own lives.
Antonio: There are always references in the movie to things that have to do with adults. I watched the first Shrek before I was a 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 took the whole entire story in an entirely different way. She just loved the adventure and the plot of the story. And, we kept going in that direction for all four of the movies.
Do you kids come up to you and ask you to do these voices a lot?
Antonio: It’s very weird. A woman came to me once, in a supermarket, with her kid who was about five years old and she said to him, “Look, it’s Puss in Boots! Can you do the voice?” And, the kid looked up at me, and then looked at his mom and said, “That’s not Puss in Boots, mom. That’s Zorro.” In those circumstances, you don’t know what to do. It’s weird.
Eddie: I’ve had people come up and do lines from the movie to me. They don’t really ask me to do the voice. The only time I really do the voice of Donkey is when I do a shadow puppet of Donkey. When I’m watching movies at home on the screen and the movie’s not good, I have the Donkey come up and make comments like, “This movie ain’t shit!” Sometimes I take the Shrek ears – the little green ones – and have the shadows of Donkey and Shrek talk. We have some wild times in the house.
Cameron: I’ve had similar experiences as Antonio. Nobody comes up and does Fiona’s voice for me. But, I’ve had parents come up and go, “Do you know who this is? This is Princess Fiona!” And, kids are literally in tears. I always try to stop people before they tell their kids because, as a kid, you believe that the characters that you’re watching and that you fall in love with are real. You don’t want to believe that there’s a human being behind them, in the same way that you want to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. You don’t want that myth to be ruined and dispelled. I always tell parents, “Please don’t tell your kids. Let it be. Let Fiona exist as Fiona.”
Mike: I’ve called kids that are sick and I’m always shocked by how incredibly accepting they are that Shrek is calling them. They’re like, “Oh, Shrek, good,” and I’m like, “Isn’t this a little extraordinary?” That’s the part that always kills me. They’ll be like, “Can you put the Tooth Fairy on now?”
Eddie, how similar are you to Donkey? Was it easy for you to find the character when you started voicing him?
Eddie: 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 were some techniques to it. I just turn it on and off, and then I go home.
Is that with all of your characters?
Eddie: That’s with everything.
Have you seen the foreign versions of the Shrek films, with your character speaking foreign languages?
Cameron: Yes, I have. I’ve seen bits. I have seen the first three minutes of the Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and German versions. You go in for the premiere and you stay for the first three minutes, and then you leave because you have to go to the next country to promote it.
Antonio, do you get to do the Spanish version of yourself?
Antonio: Yes. I do two different Spanish versions. I do the Castilian version for Spain and Latin America, and then I do the Italian version too.
Mike: I do the Canadian version, and it’s remarkably like the American version.