14 things you probably didn't know about 'Shrek'

Dreamwork Animation‘Shrek’ was released in 2001.

  • Following its 2001 release, “Shrek,” and its sequels, earned a large fan base.
  • “Shrek 2” (2004) is still among the top-grossing animated films, and it’s the only non-Disney film in the top five.
  • “Shrek” is based on a children’s book from 1990 called “Shrek!”
  • Fans of “Shrek” may also be surprised to learn that some of the main characters were recast throughout production.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories .

When DreamWorks released “Shrek” (2001), the film found a large fan base who admired its twist on stereotypical fairy-tale tropes.

Since its release, “Shrek” has continued to maintain popularity in the age of the internet. But even die-hard fans might not know about everything that went into the making of the film.

Here are some surprising fun facts about “Shrek.”


“Shrek” is actually based on a children’s book from 1990.

AmazonWilliam Steig wrote the book in 1990.

More than a decade before the animated movie was released in theatres, author William Steig wrote the children’s book, “Shrek!”

The book had similar characters and storylines as the movie, but it didn’t include as much of the film’s cynical wit.


Some of the film’s writers had previous experience in animation.

DisneyTed Elliott and Terry Rossio helped write Disney’s ‘Aladdin.’

The four main writers who worked on “Shrek” were Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Roger S.H. Schulman.

Before “Shrek,” Elliott and Rossio worked together on Disney’s “Aladdin” (1992). Stillman and Schulman worked on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead” and the film “ALF Tales” (1988), respectively.


“Saturday Night Live” legend Chris Farley originally voiced the ogre.

Steve.Granitz/Getty ImagesChris Farley died in 1997 before finishing the film.

Mike Myers was the voice of Shrek, but he wasn’t the first actor cast in the role.

Before his sudden death in 1997, “SNL” star Chris Farley was cast to voice Shrek, and clips of his voice work have since surfaced online.

According to a 2015 Yahoo! interview with his brother Kevin Farley, the actor recorded most of the movie before his death.

“Originally the Shrek character was a little bit more like Chris, like a humble, bumbling innocent guy,” Kevin said. “The studio needed to do what they needed to do. It was a bad time, bad timing … a tragedy. Mike did a great job with ‘Shrek.’ He knocked it out of the park.”


Shrek almost had a different accent because of Myers.

Jason Kempin/Getty ImagesMike Myers was the voice of Shrek.

Once Myers took on the role of Shrek, he tried to give the ogre a Canadian accent before he eventually changed it to a Scottish one.


Nicolas Cage said he turned down the role of Shrek because of how children would see him.

Jason Kempin / Staff / Getty ImagesNicolas Cage was also asked to voice Shrek.

Nicolas Cage has taken on many roles over the years, but one that he turned down was the voice of Shrek.

During a 2013 interview on the “Today” show, Cage explained why he didn’t want the role saying, “I’m not afraid to be ugly in a movie … When you’re drawn, in a way it says more about how children are going to see you than anything else, and I do care about that.”

He said he doesn’t regret turning it down.


Cameron Diaz wasn’t the original voice for Princess Fiona.

DreamWorksFiona was originally voiced by Janeane Garofalo.

Shrek isn’t the only character in the film who was passed from actor to actor. Princess Fiona was once voiced by actress Janeane Garofalo.

According to Vulture, after losing the role Garofalo said, “I was never told why [I was fired]. I assume because I sound like a man sometimes? I don’t know why. Nobody told me.”


“Shrek” saved DreamWorks Animation, according to the studio’s cofounder.

DreamWorks‘Shrek’ brought in a lot of money at DreamWorks.

In an interview with The Age, DreamWorks cofounder and “Shrek” creator Jeffrey Katzenberg said, “That first ‘Shrek’ saved the company financially. We’re here today because of it. It’s been a great blessing. I refer to it as the gift that keeps on giving.”


Actor John Lithgow went against his usual standards to voice Lord Farquaad.

Taylor Jewell/Invision/APJohn Lithgow voiced Lord Farquaad in ‘Shrek.’

In a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times, John Lithgow said “I always said I would never play anyone short, and then came [“Shrek’s”] Lord Farquaad.”

He went on to describe the role in “Shrek” as “something new” for his filmography.

Before “Shrek,” Lithgow was known for playing the high commander of a highly trained alien unit on NBC’s “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and he went on to play a killer on Showtime’s “Dexter.”


“Shrek” won the first Academy Award for best animated feature.

DreamWork Animations‘Shrek’ won an Oscar for best animated feature film.

Animated films didn’t win many major categories at the Oscars until the best animated feature award was created in 2002.

“Shrek” was the first film to take home the award in this category, winning out against Nickelodeon’s “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”


Shrek’s name stems from the Yiddish word for “terrible.”

DreamWorks AnimationShrek is meant to be pretty terrible throughout the film.

One might think “Shrek” is just a random name given to a swamp-dwelling ogre, but it actually stems from the Yiddish word shreklekh, which means awful/terrible/horrible in English.

The word schrecklich is also found in German, which similarly means dreadful.


“Shrek” has been adapted into a stage musical.

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagicBrian d’Arcy James as Shrek posing backstage with Mike Myers.

After its success in the early 2000s, “Shrek” was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2008.

It ran on Broadway until 2010 starring Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek and Broadway legend Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona.

At the 2009 Tony Awards, “Shrek the Musical” won the award for best costume design in musical.


The “Shrek” franchise still has a large community of fans online.

DreamWork PicturesPeople still seem to love ‘Shrek.’

“Shrek” premiered before the age of social media, but it has found a resurgence online in recent years.

On Reddit, there is a whole subreddit where fans talk about theories and parodies.

There have also been plenty of memes and tweets created about the films – including a popular reminder that “Shrek 2” had an “American Idol”-inspired bonus feature on the DVD.


“Shrek 2” was the highest-grossing film worldwide in 2004, and it’s still one of the top-five highest-grossing animated films.

DreamWork Pictures‘Shrek 2’ is still one of the top-grossing animated films.

According to IMDPro’s Box Office Mojo, when “Shrek 2” was released in 2004, it was the highest-grossing movie worldwide, beating out “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Spider-Man 2.”

To date, “Shrek 2” is the fifth-highest-grossing animated film. It’s the only non-Disney film in the top five, behind “Incredibles 2” (2018), “The Lion King” (2019), “Finding Dory” (2016), and “Frozen 2” (2019).


In 2016, Universal screenwriter Michael McCullers confirmed a fifth “Shrek” movie is in the works, but there’s no news of its release yet.

DreamWorks AnimationUniversal is working on ‘Shrek 5.’

“Shrek 5” is reportedly in the works under the Universal banner, since DreamWorks was sold to Universal in 2016.

Screenwriter Michael McCullers told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017 that the script for “Shrek 5” is completed and the film is being developed.

In 2018, the CEO of Universal’s Illumination studios Chris Meledandri also told Variety that the sequel was in the works.

According to Cinema Blend, in 2016, Eddie Murphy said that the movie was supposed to be released in “2019 or 2020.” However,ScreenRant reported earlier this year that the film has since been cancelled.

Currently, Universal has a few untitled DreamWorks films set to release through 2023, but no confirmation of “Shrek 5.” Representatives for DreamWorks didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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