14 things you didn't know about 'Shrek'

ShrekDreamwork Animation‘Shrek’ was released in 2001.

  • Following its 2001 release, “Shrek” found its way into the hearts of audiences everywhere.
  • It is among the top-rated animated films of all time, but the road to success wasn’t easy.
  • “Shrek” is based on a 1990 children’s story, and was acquired by Steven Spielberg in 1991.
  • Fans of the film will be surprised to learn of many re-castings and the film’s impact on animation.

DreamWorks 2001 release “Shrek” found its way into the hearts of audience around the world with its twist on stereotypical fairy tale tropes. Since its release, “Shrek” has been recognised as one of the top animated films of all time, and has continued to maintain popularity in the age of the internet.

Here are some things even the biggest “Shrek” fan might not know about the classic movie.


“Shrek” is actually based on a 1990 book.

Amazon‘Shrek!’

More than a decade before “Shrek” was released in theatres, author William Steig wrote children’s book, “Shrek!” “Shrek!” The book featured similar storylines as the movie, and was purchased for adaptation by Steven Spielberg in 1991.


The film’s writers had previous experience in animation.

DisneyTed Elliot and Terry Rossio helped animate ‘Aladdin.’

The four writers credited with writing “Shrek” are Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Roger S.H. Schulman. Elliott and Rossio worked together on Disney’s “Aladdin” in 1992, and Stillman and Schulman worked on “Beavis and Butthead” and “Alf Tales,” respectively.


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

Steve.Granitz/Getty ImagesChris Farley.

Before his tragic 1997 death, “SNL” star Chris Farley was cast to voice Shrek in the film. He recorded about 90% of the movie, which has later surfaced online. The film had to be re-recorded by Mike Myers – twice. Myers originally gave Shrek a Canadian accent, which was eventually changed to a Scottish accent.


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

Though Nic Cage has taken on many roles over the years, the one he turned down was to voice “Shrek.” In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on TODAY, Cage explained why he denied 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.”


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 initially voiced by actress Janeane Garofalo. Garofalo once 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 … but you know, the movie didn’t do anything, so who cares?”


Animators believe that “Shrek” ultimately saved DreamWorks.

DreamWorksShrek brought a lot of money to Dreamworks.

In an interview with Australia’s The Age, DreamWorks co-founder and “Shrek” creator Jeffrey Katzenberg said of the “Shrek” franchise, “They defined us as a company in terms of what a DreamWorks Animated movie is and can be and should be, so they really helped us find ourselves. 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 personal standards to voice Lord Farquaad.

In an interview with The LA Times, John Lithgow said he “always said [he] would never play anyone short” until the role was offered to him. He described the role as “something new” and he ultimately agreed to voice the movie’s villain.


“Shrek” arguably started the wave of CGI animation we still see today.

DreamWorks‘Toy Story’ paved the way.

Though “Shrek” was originally supposed to be done in a more-traditional animated style, the final version was completely done in computer-generated imagery. The first full-length CGI film was Disney’s “Toy Story” in 1995 and has been paired with “Shrek” in many conversations about CGI’s influence since.


“Shrek” won the first-ever Academy Award for best animated feature film

DreamWork Animations‘Shrek’ was the first movie that won an Academy Award for best animated feature film.

Generally speaking, animated films were ignored in major categories at the Academy Awards until the best animated feature category was created in 2002. “Shrek” was the first film to be awarded the Academy Award in this category, winning out against “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and “Monsters Inc.”


“Shrek” means monster in Yiddish.

DreamWorks PicturesThe word Shrek has meaning.

One might think “Shrek” is just a random name given to a swamp-dwelling ogre, but it actually stems from the word for “monster” in Yiddish. The German (and Yiddish-derived) word “schrecklich” means “dreadful” in English.


“Shrek” has been adapted into a stage musical.

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagicBrian d’Arcy James as Shrek and Mike Meyers.

After its success in the early 2000s, “Shrek” was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2008. It ran on Broadway until 2010 and starred Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek and Broadway legend Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. The musical won a Tony Award for best costume design in 2009.


“Shrek 2” held the record for the top-grossing animated film in the US for 10 years.

DreamWork PicturesShrek is now the third top-grossing animated films.

Until “Finding Dory” was released in 2016, the sequel to “Shrek” held the record for being the top-grossing animated film in the US after its 2004 release. To date, “Shrek 2” is the third-highest-grossing film, behind “Finding Dory” and “Incredibles 2.”


“Shrek” still finds fans online.

DreamWork PicturesPeople still love Shrek.

Because “Shrek” premiered before the age of social media, it has found a resurgence of interest in recent years online. On Reddit, there is a whole subreddit where fans talk about the film in a modern context. There have also been many memes that circulate about the film, including a popular reminder that the second film had an “American Idol”-inspired outtake on the DVD.


DreamWorks confirmed a fifth movie will arrive in the next few years.

Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesEddie Murphy gave some information on ‘Shrek 5.’

“Shrek 5” will be the franchise’s first film under the Universal banner, as DreamWorks sold to Universal for $US4 billion in 2016. When promoting “Boss Baby,” screenwriter Michael McCullers told The Hollywood Reporter that “Shrek 5” will feature a “big reinvention.”

Eddie Murphy, who famously voiced Donkey in the films, hinted to Cinemablend that the film would arrive in 2020 at the latest. Murphy also confirmed the script is finished, so fans will be eagerly awaiting the franchise’s next instalment soon.

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