Shrek Forever After: Interview with director Mike Mitchell

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Mike Mitchell is the director of "Shrek Forever After," starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy. The film is being released in 3-D and IMAX by Dreamworks Animation on May 21, 2010.

Mitchell, a veteran of both live-action films and previous DreamWorks Animation films asks: "How do we give the audience what they know and love, but at the same time give it a fresh take, make it more beautiful?" A challenging task for any director, Mitchell continues, "We've taken on the bittersweet challenge of wrapping up the story of Shrek. We know fans would want to see how it ends."

 

Early in the development process, artists came up with an image of Shrek looking at himself in the mirror and staring at his old "wanted" poster thinking to himself, "What have I become?" For the filmmakers, that proved to be a significant turning point in the development of the film's story. "We though it was interesting that he's not the ogre he was in the first Shrek films. He's domesticated, he's not scary, he's beloved by all the townspeople," says Mitchell. "The last thing we wanted was for Shrek to lose his edge."

 

Relating to the story

 

For Mitchell, relating to the story and Shrek's feelings were easy. A father of two toddlers, he could empathize with "Shrek the dad" having to forego the life of an ogre for that of a Saturday afternoon soccer shuttle driver. "I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old," explains Mitchell. When I took this job, my second boy was born. It really is a life-changing experience and it is very hard to be cool when you have a diaper bag strapped across your shoulder and a pacifier around your neck." 

 

Says the director, "Everything the audience knows about Shrek, Fiona and the fairy tale characters is turned upside down and thrown into an alternate reality. "And," the director continues, "nobody in Far Far Away knows who Shrek is. They just see him for what he is; a big, scary ogre."

 

Trusting Actors

 

"We would come into a session with just script pages and give the actors the set-up and they just trusted us," says director Mike Mitchell. "It's a great collaboration."

 

A New Villain: Rumpelstilskin

 

Mitchell summarizes his thinking regarding the overall tone and character motivation by simply stating: "You know the guy that wins the $200 million mega lottery jackpot and doesn't REALLY know how to spend the money? That's Rumpel."

 

"Walt brought the character to life with his performance," recalls Mitchell. "And that was really important as Rumpel is so pivotal to the plot and wrapping up Shrek's story," adds executive producer Aron Warner.

 

Taking well-known and beloved characters and throwing them into a new set of circumstances can be a challenging and daunting task for any filmmaker. Comments director Mitchell, "That's what made it so exciting to work on." Adds producer Shay, "Even though it was risky, Mike, Teresa and I wanted to completely uproot our beloved inhabitants of Far Far Away and place them in a drastically altered universe."