When DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek opened in theaters in 2001, it was a somewhat groundbreaking piece of work. The world of CG animation was incredibly new, but DreamWorks solidified its path going forward with the pop culture-infused, slightly subversive, and colorful fairy tale that dominated the box office and acted as the blueprint for future DWA movies. But as with many animated films, Shrek began very differently in development, complete with an entirely different lead voice actor: Chris Farley.
Comedian Mike Myers would replace Farley as Shrek after the comedian’s untimely death in 1997, and while Meyers has spoken about how he took the character in an entirely different direction, few have ever heard what Farley’s iteration of the character sounded like. Today, however, an early story reel from 1997 has made its way online, and it reveals some of the audio work that Farley recorded opposite Eddie Murphy‘s Donkey. It’s certainly a very different Shrek than Meyers’, and Meyers’ accent no doubt had an impact on the story and character development going forward, but it’s not hard to see why Farley was chosen to voice the lead character when hearing this audio.
Ultimately Meyers’ version of the character seems to be a bit more cynical or acerbic than Farley’s “angry yet sweet” take on the ogre. It’s been said that Farley recorded anywhere up to 90% of the dialogue for Shrek, but as story is always evolving and shifting in animation, it would’ve been impossible to salvage his work for the finished film. Regardless, it’s fascinating to hear what could have been. Watch the video below.