Shrek the Third: Evolving/Devolving Franchise

What began as a short childrens story by William Steig has evolved into one of the most acclaimed and beloved film franchises in the history of entertainment. With stunning advancements in technology, the look and feel of the Shrek films has changed dramatically over the years. As for Shrek, himself, he has made some new friends, walked into some new responsibilities and has discovered a different way of looking at life. Our green hero has come a long way from his solitary days in the swamp.

Shrek and Shrek 2

Making fans of critics and audiences worldwide, the Shrek franchise has amassed an astonishing $1.4 billion in box office receipts and has sold over 90 million DVDs to date. The original Shrek had a happy ending, indeed, as it tallied $479 million dollars in global box office receipts and has sold over 50 million DVDs. The first film capped off its triumphant run by winning the first-ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2002. But this was just the start of a tremendous story for the humble fairy tale.

When Shrek 2 was unleashed on theaters on May 19, 2004 it posted the largest 5-day opening of all time. After all was said and done, this magical monster of a movie had become the third highest-grossing film of all time with a total worldwide box office of $920 million, and the subsequent Shrek 2 DVD registered a record 12.1 million units in the first three days alone and has gone on to sell over 40 million copies.

New Chapter

Shrek the Third brings back the inimitable voices of Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, Antonio Banderas as Puss In Boots, Julie Andrews and John Cleese as Queen Lillian and King Harold and Rupert Everett as Prince Charming.

Joining the stellar voice cast are: Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog) as Artie, the king-in-waiting; Eric Idle of Monty Python fame as Merlin the magician; the Saturday Night Live trio Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph and alumni Cheri Oteri as Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty respectively; Amy Sedaris (Strangers With Candy) as Cinderella; John Krasinski (TVs The Office) as Lancelot; Ian McShane (Deadwood) as Captain Hook; and talk show hosts Larry King as the ugly stepsister Doris and Regis Philbin as Mabel, the other ugly stepsister.

The computer-animated comedy was directed by Chris Miller and co-directed by Raman Hui, with Aron Warner producing, Andrew Adamson and John H. Williams executive producing and Denise Nolan Cascino co-producing. Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman and Chris Miller & Aron Warner wrote the screenplay from a story by Andrew Adamson.

Evolution of Shrek

As the filmmakers see it, they never had to lead Shrek anywhere. He has always been making his own way marching down a trail that everyone can relate to. The story of Shrek the Third is the natural progression of this guys life and his development as an adult, explains producer Aron Warner.

Shrek and Fiona fell in love and got married in the first film. In the second movie, they met the parents and got to know the family. And so it seemed there was a natural next step for them, continues director Chris Miller. But as it turns out, its not a natural step for Shrek because hes convinced that he would not make a good father.

Mike Myers

The man who gives his voice to Shrek is thrilled to see how the great ogre has changed since the first film. What’s great about the third Shrek is that it’s the continuing adventures of somebody who has to learn to believe in himself, says Mike Myers. In the first film, he didn’t think that he was worthy of falling in love, in the second one he didnt think he was worthy of being a husband, and in Shrek the Third, he struggles with worthiness because he’s afraid of being a king, and of being a father. So it’s kind of a really great story of how, through all these different times in your life, you really do have to just rely on yourself, and believe in yourself, and not listen to what other people think about you.

Much of the production still revolves around the title character. And Mike Myers has been looking forward to Shrek the Third as if it was a family reunion. I have a good time doing Shrek, he says. You get to be silly, and I love Donkey and Fiona and Puss In Boots and the whole thing. I get very happy when I get into this world.

These films, they touch people. They give them a message, and they give them a good time. Its such a privilege to be a part of the Shrek legacy, adds Cameron Diaz. Her sentiments are seconded by Rupert Everett, who reprises his role as the self-absorbed Prince Charming. It’s the best job an actor could get because they’re really carefully thought out films. So they’re a real pleasure to be involved with. You get to see the whole thing happening. I find it much more exhilarating than being in ordinary films in some ways.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy, who has given life to the films loveable Donkey from day one, sums it up this way, Each movie just gets better and better. The characters get more developed, and the stories get more complex.

Picking up where the movie left off was the multi-sensory, multi-media experience Shrek 4-D. The films stellar cast reprised their roles in a unique in-theater sensory immersion that expanded the world of Shrek and bridged the story between the first film and the phenomenon that would become Shrek 2.

Everyones favorite burro, voiced by acclaimed actor Eddie Murphy, continues Everetts thought as he describes acting in this series of films as compared to his normal role as a leading man. When you make an animated film, you get more of a sense of it being a collaborative effort that you’re one of the pieces instead of the whole thing being on you. In this, you really feel you’re part of a team. It’s not just the actors; it’s not just the production; it’s not just the animators. It’s everybody coming together and making this movie work.

New Family Members

As Shreks story grows larger, so too does the family of actors who bring the characters to life. Though it would be impossible to imagine any Shrek film without the commanding voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz, it is now just as difficult to picture Shreks world without the familiar expressions of Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, John Cleese and Larry King.

For Shrek the Third, the family expands to include Justin Timberlake, Eric Idle, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, John Krasinski, Ian McShane and Regis Philbin. At the beginning, you write down every person you would ever want to work with or would fit the role well, beams director Chris Miller. Fortunately, there are a lot of great performers who want to work on a Shrek movie. So, we’ve been really blessed with not only wanting great performers but actually getting them.

A lot of us have known each other now for 10 years or more, echoes producer Aron Warner. It’s a good thing we like each other. The camaraderie and playful competition formed over years of late nights and deadlines have been fruitful for the filmmakers. Were motivated to make things funnier and funnier, explains co-director Raman Hui. Were constantly saying Why dont we try that Its amazing working with this crew. Even though the hours can be backbreaking, co-producer Denise Cascino never tires of atmosphere. We laugh a lot, she says. The great part about this work is that you’re given such great material by the actors, and every day something new is coming in that makes you laugh.

The voice behind the beloved cat Puss In Boots knew he was going to be a part of Shrek the Third and any other films that followed as soon as he saw Shrek 2. Jeffrey (Katzenberg) approached me and said the character is going to continue in the saga of these stories, explains Antonio Banderas. Now I feel like I’m part of the group. My relationship with Donkey will always be competitive in a playful way, but deep down we love each other very much.

Julie Andrews, who voices the regal Queen Lillian, was equally eager to rejoin the Shrek family. They just asked, and thats all they had to do, she says with a smile. It was so much fun before, so when they asked I was delighted.

For the newcomers, the prospect of seeing themselves animated in Shrek the Third elicited a variety of responses. Being a fan of the first two films, Justin Timberlake couldnt wait to do his part in Shrek the Third. To come in and create your own character is really a treat. I’m having a ball doing it, he says. Voice acting is far different from any other type of acting. You imagine what your character is going to look and sound like, so your energy is greater than it would normally be.

Author and comedian Amy Sedaris was initially wary, but soon warmed to the idea. No one’s ever asked me to play a princess before, so I thought it would be challenging. Once I heard who the other princesses were going be, I couldnt pass it up. And there was a second reason. Like Timberlake, Sedaris was excited to amp up the action. With TV and film, it’s always Bring it back; pull it back; make it smaller. And I never hear that with animation. Can you go bigger And that’s my dream to hear that. Bigger and one take are my favorite two words.

Being called upon to join the pool of diva princesses was just too good to be true for Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolph. I am part of a really cool group of ladies. All the princesses are played by great comic ladies, and I was honored to be part of that little group. Its pretty amazing. One of those great comic ladies is Mayas cohort Amy Poehler, who likes the street cred her new role gives her with the next generation. I’m a pretty cool lady now to a lot of my younger cousins, and my friends’ kids. It is one of those films that really does span age. Everyone from young to old really likes it. So I felt pretty psyched that I was part of it, and I strutted around a little bit, I can’t deny. Rounding out the SNL trio is Cheri Oteri, who was thrilled to jump into the shoes of Sleeping Beauty. I felt so lucky and honored to be a part of Shrek because the humor is so wonderful, and there are so many subtleties in the characters that make it so much fun to watch.

In the case of John Krasinski, the voice of Lancelot, the opportunity to join the cast was truly a life-long dream. I will admit now that the one thing in life I’ve always wanted to do is be in an animated film, and I’m talking about since I was six, sooo that’s awkward to announce, he says. But seriously, I was so thrilled to just be a part of this in any way. I’ve loved the whole series of movies, and so to be part of this one is an honor.
Legendary British comedian Eric Idle had an altogether different reason for enlisting his voice talents to the character of Merlin. He jokes, I think Jeffrey Katzenberg has some old pictures of me from the 70s. He offered to send them to the tabloids. So, I agreed to do it.

Shrek: The Musical

After the release of Shrek the Third this summer, the saga will continue as Shrek soon goes legit in the new Broadway-bound extravaganza Shrek: The Musical slated for 2008. And premiering this holiday season on ABC is the original animated holiday special Shrek The Halls, starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.