by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Digital
Media FX (digitalmediafx.com)
scale animated productions, like Shrek, depend
on Hollywood celebrities to bring animated character voices
to life. While having celebrities attached to an animated
film is a major blow to voice actors, it provides major
marketing potential for studios.
starring in DreamWorks' Shrek include Mike Meyers
as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess
Fiona, and John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad.
main star, of course, is Shrek - a disgusting ogre who
reacts to his swamp home being invaded by fairy tale characters.
As the star, it was important for the voice artist to
bring out the disgusting habits of Shrek while still making
is no dreamboat, but Mike understood the heart and soul
of the character and brought out his wonderful lovable
qualities," says DreamWorks principle Jeffrey Katzenberg.
In the way he brought Shrek's words to life, Mike gave
him his heart and we were able to mold our physical character
voicing a character creates opportunities to improvise,
which brings more life to the character.
spent a lot of time in the studio discovering who Mike
Myers as Shrek was, and experimenting with different voices
and different accents," says Andrew Adamson, one
of the films two directors. "The truth is, when you
cast Mike Myers in a role, you don't just get Mike Myers;
you get the plethora of characterizations he can create.
He is the best at inventing a character and stepping into
it. And once he's in it, he stays in it - even between
takes - which gave him a great base from which to start
improvising. The improv moments are gold; those are the
moments that give the animators the most to go on, because
at that point, it's not a written piece of dialogue -
it's a character come to life."
Shrek's "sidekick" is a donkey named Donkey.
For the voice, the Shrek team selected Eddie Murphy. Murphy's
last experience as a voice over artist came in Disney's
Mulan where he played Mulan's sidekick, Mushu the Dragon.
freely admits that there are big differences between voice
acting and live action acting.
is a much more collaborative process than acting with
my body and my face," says Murphy. "It's a trip
to have the director ask for a small inflection in your
voice, and then, when the scene is drawn, you see how
that slight change brings out the emotion. Another reason
I like doing animated films is that, when they're done
right, they're timeless, and my kids really get into them
They love hearing their father's voice come out of a cartoon."
the role of the princess - who is unlike any past animated
fairy tale princess - is actress Cameron Diaz. She describes
the princess as "a little spark plug." What
makes Shrek different for Diaz is that it is her first
ever voicing of an animated character. She had no idea
of what to expect.
told me that Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy were in most
of my scenes, so I expected to walk into the room and
find them both there and do lines together," says
Diaz. "Instead, I got storyboards and a pointer stick
running across dialogue on the bottom. I thought, 'Okay,
this is different,' but it turned out to be very cool."
of Diaz's sequences in the movie includes a fight scene
that mimics some moves from The Matrix. Diaz was psyched
about that part of the movie because she was doing intense
daily martial arts training for Charlie's Angels.
would come in all pumped up from training and suddenly
break into fighting noises and threaten to take one of
the story artists out - in Chinese no less," laughs
if all the main characters are voiced by Hollywood celebrities
then you'd expect voice artists to get the minor roles,
storyboard artists and other crew pitch an idea to the
directors, they act out the characters in the sequence,
including character dialogue. The Shrek filmmakers were
so impressed with some of these performances that they
cast some of their crew as animated character voices.
This includes story artist Conrad Vernon as the Gingerbread
Man, Chris Miller as Geppetto (and as the Magic Mirror),
Cody Cameron as Pinocchio (and one of the three little
pigs), and Christopher Knights as one of the three blind
few real life voice artists did make their way into Shrek.
One well-known voice artist, Jim Cummings, was cast as
the Captain of the Guards. Cummings has voiced over 100
animated characters in his lifetime. This includes voicing
Tigger and Winnie the Pooh in last year's Disney animated
film, The Tigger Movie.
is a complete list of the voice cast for Shrek:
of the Guards
/ Magic Mirror
/ Three Pigs
Simon J. Smith
Tracy is the publisher of Digital
Media FX (www.digitalmediafx.com)