Dopey Execs Almost Nixed Princess Fiona And 3 Other Shrek Nuggets
Rejoice, Shrekheads -- your favorite animated ogre has returned to Netflix for another gross-out run through bastardized fairy tales. So rustle up some eyeballs and birds’ eggs and settle in for some little-known oddities about the swamp dweller and his fabled friends.
Mike Myers Wasn’t the First Choice for Shrek
Not only was Chris Farley the SNL cast member originally cast as Shrek, but he had completed almost all of his dialogue before his untimely death. Don’t believe us? Listen up as Farley shoots the swamp-stuff with Eddie Murphy’s Donkey.
Farley’s take on Shrek was pretty different than Myers’. “The (original) concept was the Shrek character was a little bit more like Chris, like a humble, bumbling innocent guy,” said Chris’s brother Kevin Farley.
The Scottish accent was entirely of Myers’ creation, for no other known reason than … it sounded funny?
Shrek Likely Lights the Menorah
There’s some pretty compelling evidence out there that our favorite ogre is, in fact, Jewish.
We won’t lay out the entire compelling case for you, but consider:
William Steig, the author who created Shrek, was the child of Jewish immigrants who fled Europe to escape persecution. The name Shrek is a version of the Yiddish word for “terror.” In the book, Shrek has a Jewish mother, and many of the story’s subplots have parallels in Jewish scripture.
Oy vey, do we have to spell it out for you?
Lord Farquad Was A Shot At Disney’s Michael Eisner
Shrek was one of the first big hits for Dreamworks, an animation studio founded (at least in part) when executive Jeffrey Katzenberg had a falling out with Disney chief Eisner.
The two had it out in court and in the Hollywood trades, but Katzenberg’s ultimate revenge may have come in animated form. Those in the know have pointed out the facial resemblance between the mini-tyrant Lord Farquad and Eisner. But the jabs didn’t stop there.
Shrek’s plot begins with the selling of famous fairy tale characters into slavery -- Snow White, Pinnochio, Tinkerbell -- stars of the original famous Disney cartoons but also fair game since they were in the public domain. From parodies of Disney theme parks to Katzenberg poaching disgruntled Disney artists to help create his hit, the entirety of Shrek is one extended middle finger to Eisner.
Dopey Execs Almost Nixed Princess Fiona
Screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott kept getting pushback on early versions of their script because they described Fiona as a “shape-shifting” princess.
“Initially the whole idea of the shape-shifting princess was rejected,” reveals Elliott, “on the basis that shape-shifting doesn’t seem appropriate for fairy tales.”
Apparently, those execs had never seen Beauty and Beast, The Little Mermaid, Pinnochio, or pretty much every animated fairy tale ever made, but we digress.
How did the writers get around the problem? All it took was a slight shift in vocabulary. “We realized that what we needed to do was to refer to her not as a shape-shifting princess, but as an ‘enchanted’ princess,” says Elliott. “If we’d just done that in the first draft, I don’t know that we would have had any problems at all.”
It’s enough to make one want to put a green fist through the door.
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Top image: Dreamworks