Saturday Blockbuster: Shrek
Saturday at 7.30pm
Cast: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy
Kiwi Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia) co-directs this smash hit animated comedy.
"When we started Shrek, we wanted to make a fairytale come to life," says Adamson, who co-directed the film with Vicky Jenson, "as if you opened a storybook and stepped into that world."
And what a world it is. There's Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), an enormous, crabby green ogre who is unimpressed when swarms of fairy-tale characters invade the swamp where he lives. Then there's the midget Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow) who offers to remove them if Shrek will help him win the hand of beautiful but tough Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz). So Shrek embarks on the journey to get Fiona, burdened by wise-cracking talking donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy).
Adamson, who spent over five years working on Shrek, was relieved when the film was finally ready for an audience unveiling. "It seemed like we were never going to [finish]," he laughs. But he wasn't necessarily surprised by the fantastic reaction to the movie. (Shrek won the Oscar for the best animated feature). "The animation process goes on for so long that you reach a certain point where you start knowing that it's going to be OK," he says.
Mike Myers claims he had no idea that making an animated film took so long. "I was 19 when I started this movie," he jokes, but admits that providing the voice for the irascible ogre was "a blast". Unlike Myers, Eddie Murphy was no stranger to playing animated characters (he previously voiced Mushu the Dragon in the animated epic "Mulan").
"I like doing animated films because when they're done right, they're timeless, and my kids really get into them. I explained to them that Daddy is playing a jackass in Shrek and they got a real kick out of it," he says.
John Lithgow, who provides the voice of Lord Farquaad, relished the role of a villain who stands only three-feet tall, but tries to cast giant shadow. He says: "Lord Farquaad is a walking embodiment of over-compensation. He's a contemptible little creature, full of incredible dreams of glory. He tortures a Gingerbread Man, threatens a cookie with crumbling, he's a bad man."
The casting of Cameron Diaz was a case of perfect timing for the filmmakers. During the course of making Shrek, she was also in training for her action role in "Charlies Angels", which lent itself perfectly to Princess Fiona's eye-opening encounter with some rather rude Merry Men.
"Cameron was doing eight hours of martial arts training every day, so she was very excited that her character had a fight scene," says Adamson. "She would come in all pumped up from training and suddenly break into fight noises and threaten to take one of the story artists out, in Chinese no less."
The incredible success of Shrek ensured a sequel, which came out ot great success in 2004.
Adamson also directed that film, and went on to further succes with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Plans to adap the seconds book in the series, Prince Caspian are now underway, with Adamson attached to direct again.
*Captions available on Teletext page 801