Last weekend, DreamWorks Animation held a press day for Shrek Forever After (also known as Shrek the Final Chapter). While some press days feature roundtable interviews with some of the cast, DreamWorks pulled out the big guns as they got the entire voice cast to talk to the press – including Eddie Murphy. For those that don’t know, Murphy rarely does any press. In fact, I’ve worked for five years at Collider and this was the first time I’ve ever seen him do any.
Anyway, if you’d like to hear what Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Jon Hamm, Walt Dohrn, Craig Robinson and Ryan Seacrest had to say about Shrek Forever After…hit the jump. I’ve included a transcript of the press conference as well as the audio. This is one of those interviews that’s much better to listen to.
*Note* Ryan Seacrest was the moderator of the press conference, but after a little while it opened up to journalists.
Ryan Seacrest: Mike, looking back on all the years you’ve been involved with the Shrek films, what’s been one of your favorite moments?
Mike Myers: When Jeffrey [Katzenberg] said, “Would you like to be in an animated movie?,” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “It’s called Shrek.” I said, “That’s the worst title I’ve ever heard in my life.” I didn’t know what it was going to be. In the process, the first time I saw it with an audience and the line, “But you are beautiful to me,” got a gasp because people were so into the whole romance and the heart of it, that I was just blown away that an animated movie could move people and was something that people could be invested in, emotionally. I think that’s been the most satisfying thing for me.
Ryan Seacrest: Eddie, what’s been the secret to success for the Shrek franchise?
Eddie Murphy: I think it’s funny and very well made.
Mike Myers: Hold on – I just went on for 15 minutes. I wish I’d done that.
Eddie Murphy: I really do think it’s that simple. It’s really well made. It’s very funny. It’s smart and those things add up to a hit sometimes.
Ryan Seacrest: Cameron, the emotion of this one goes back to the roots of the first one a little bit doesn’t it?
Cameron Diaz: Yeah. I think you get to see true love happen all over again for the first time between Shrek and Fiona because they get to find one another. It’s the moment that you’re talking about – your favorite moment from the first movie that you get to experience all over again. Because we get to take that journey with them of finding that love again. You open up on them sort of the routine of a life that they’ve taken for granted…Shrek has for sure and then you get to see him journey back through trying to regain finding his true love.
Ryan Seacrest: Walt, how long did it take you to come up with the devious voice of Rumplestiltskin?
Walt Dohrn: I feel like he’s been inside me my whole life. As I was walking in here, I thought security was going to grab me and throw me out. We worked on the voice for a year not knowing that I would be cast. Once I got cast, we really started trying to push it as best we could.
Ryan Seacrest: Antonio, how much fun have you had making these movies?
Antonio Banderas: A lot, actually. And unexpected, because I came to this country without speaking the language, then I found they called me to use my voice very surprising. Fun every time at recording sessions. And still do. I have a lot of fun. And also you asked before about memories. I remember when we opened in the Cannes Film Festival, it is happening right now, actually, and the you see the whole entire representation of Europe in the movie theatre, and interrupting the movie with applause twelve times. It was a kind of outstanding to me, you know, a beautiful moment we have.
Ryan Seacrest: John how did you get the role of Brogan?
John Hamm: Wow. I don’t know. I don’t know why the character I play on TV would necessarily lend itself to be the first choice to be an animated character, but I don’t know, I honestly can’t believe I’m sitting up here. But when it came my way and they were still trying to figure out what it was going to be, was it going to be a love interest or a rival or something, they weren’t sure. I was like, “I don’t care, I just want to be a part of it.” I’ve loved the last three versions of this and went and saw all of them in theaters like I was a 13-year-old. So the pure fan of me was like, “I’ll go play somebody who talks backwards, on top of his head, turned around, I don’t even care.” The fact that they were able to work with me, and my personality, and create this person who is sort of this cheerleader of sorts was fun to do.
Cameron and Mike, your characters are starting all over again from scratch. I’m wondering how challenging that was?
Mike Myers: The writing is just so great and all the filmmakers were so committed to having it be so excellent that you’re just kind of…
Cameron Diaz: Following the script.
Mike Myers: It’s kind of like this lamaze birth back into the thing every time.
Cameron Diaz: I agree. It’s well structured and it’s clear as to what the two are going through.
But you made it so fresh and I’m wondering how you did that?
Mike Myers: Mike Mitchell is a great director. Jeffrey is a great producer.
Cameron Diaz: The animators are great and they’re really the great actors. They are the ones who put the looks in our eyes and the chemistry between us.
Antonio, how do you feel about Shrek ending and does the fact that there will be a Puss in Boots film make it any better?
Antonio Banderas: Well, it’s sad, on one side, but very satisfying. Shrek has become pop culture itself. I was in New York this year, watching the Thanksgiving Day parade from my house, and there was a big balloon of Shrek and behind him was Mickey Mouse. It was beautiful to see what this 10 years of work has done. So, it’s sad, on one side, but on the other side, we’re going to hopefully continue now, if it goes well. But, it’s totally different. What we’re doing so far is not the same narrative process as Shrek. It goes the different direction, takes more from Sergio Leone’s kind of ’60s movies, divided screens, stuff like that, it is a lot of fun but it is different context.
Would you like to do another Shrek film, at some point?
Cameron Diaz: I’m in!
Mike Myers: The final chapter reunion movie? Yeah, sure. I just play the voice. I don’t really know what goes on.
Cameron Diaz: It’s easy. People ask me if I’d do Charlie’s Angels 10 years from now, and I’m like, “What!” It’s a little bit different fitting in those pants, 10 years from now. But, with Shrek, we get to go back to wherever they will be, 10 years from now. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait that long.
Cameron, Fiona gets to be very empowered, as a leader and a warrior. Did you ever think she may have had a better life, if she went down that path instead?
Cameron Diaz: For me, Fiona always been a warrior. I’ve always seen her as a warrior of love, through all of these films. What she’s worked for and what she’s fought for is the love that she has for herself, and the love that she has for Shrek, her family and friends. So, she’s always been a warrior. It’s just in a different tone for this film. Her responsibilities are a little bit more obvious, as far as the resistance, but she’s always been a warrior to me. That is part of her nature, and it has given her all the things in her life that she loves.
Are there any fairy tales you’d want to rewrite?
John Hamm: Any fairy tales, I’d like to rewrite? I think the great thing about this franchise is that it kind of takes the plots of fairy tales and puts them on their heads. So this is a perfect example. And when the original book came out, and maybe my timeline is wrong, there were quite a few books that were coming out and were sort of reworked and sort of twisted fairy tales that were taking the classic damsel in distress and handsome prince and putting them on their head or swapping roles. So I think, not only this franchise, but there have been several that have done quite well. And then when you add in the unbelievable talent on this stage and the animators, it makes this incredible thing come to life. So I don’t think I could certainly do any better than this.
Craig Robinson: I would rewrite “The Lion King”! I would not let Mufasa die.
With the 3D, you can see features in the characters that you never noticed before. Was there anything new about your characters that you discovered?
Cameron Diaz: Antonio has quite a lot of features that he didn’t know he had, with the abundance of the weight that Puss in Boots carries in the movie.
Mike Myers: Even as a fat cat, he still manages to be sexy.
Mike, in this movie, Shrek doesn’t want the attention anymore and he just wants to be able to do what he enjoys without people watching. Is there a parallel to your own life, in that regard?
Mike Myers: I like my privacy. I love being a part of [films], but when I’m not doing stuff, I like to go away. I enjoy being a person, a great deal.
Do you think being Canadian gives you a different sensibility?
Mike Myers: It’s hard to be super full of yourself in Canada. If there was a motto of Canada, it would be, “Who do you think you are, eh?” Very good training to just be a person is growing up in Canada. People say a lot of things about Canada, like that it’s boring, but if you look around the world, you can praise boring. It’s a very civilized place to grow up. I’m very proud of it.
Jon, how did you find the transition of going from television to voice actor?
John Hamm: It was easier, a lot easier. Certainly a lot less demanding on me. My role in the film isn’t nearly as large as my role in the television show, so that was a lot easier as well. But a whole different kind of acting and being in a scene, when you’re reading opposite people who have other constructed performances that you haven’t necessarily heard. And that again speaks to the incredible competence of the people who put this together, to make that all seem seamless. And I was learning as I went along, as who the character was, find the character, it was changing, as it was changing we would go back in and re-do it and tweak it, and the art involved with who this character was because it was a new character was constantly being shifted and there was notes about this and that, and that was a really fun process to be part of. Because it’s not happening live, it’s sort of deferred until they get it exactly right. And you’re in the hands of people who want it to be excellent, that’s a very comfortable and welcoming feeling. So I tremendously enjoyed it, and it was a really interesting thing to learn on the fly.
For everyone in the cast, this movie makes you love life and happiness. Can you each talk about what you love about your life and whatever makes you happy at this point in your life? And what do you think young audiences will learn about love from watching this movie?
Ryan Seacrest: I love all the free time that I have! And my body of work in film just continues to grow. This is a giant leap from my cameo in Knocked Up.
Walt Dohrn: That’s exactly what I was going to say. I have a seven-year-old daughter that means everything to me.
Mike Myers: New York City. I love New York City. I love that I get to live there and I love everything about it.
Cameron Diaz: I am in love with life. I think it’s pretty awesome when you are engaged in it. I love my family and my friends, and that to me is the biggest…that’s the love of my life are my friends and family and the experience that I get to share with them. It puts a smile on my face and in my heart.
Eddie Murphy: I just love everything and I love everyone. And I love love. Love is a mother fucker! How do you feel about love? Does anybody not love love?
Antonio Banderas: When it comes to love, I will tell you that today, especially, I love the fact that I’ve been married for 14 years.
Eddie Murphy: What Cameron said is true, I think everybody loves being with their family and loves being around people who make you feel good. All those things you [Cameron] said hit it right on for me. You pretty much nailed it.
John Hamm: I think that we live in a moment in time right now where people have a lot of information about a lot of people kind of instantly, but it’s all sort of surface information and it doesn’t really mean anything. And the things that people were talking about, about what they love and what they hold dear and what they feel strongly about, are things that are kind of unquantifiable, and aren’t on your twitter feed or your Facebook page or your instant message thing or gossip columns or paparazzi photos or things like that. It’s truly getting to know people and understand them and have a relationship with them and trusting them and being vulnerable and all that stuff. I think that’s the journey that Shrek makes, is sort of taking his existence for granted. We’re all incredibly fortunate people up here, and I love having the opportunity to do what I do, and what I love to do. The idea of taking that for granted and not taking the time out and not appreciating the ability to do that is similar to not appreciating the people that you share your life with or that you love. And that’s what Shrek and Fiona go through and rediscover and this is all very boring and academic, but that’s what I think about it. And I think that’s what really resonates with kids and why it appeals to not just little kids, but the kid in every one of us.
Craig Robinson: Moments. What I love about life and everything about this, I flew to Chicago to surprise my mother on Mother’s Day and it was a nice moment, like being here right now, this time was an amazing moment.
Eddie Murphy: It’s really all the same. Whether you’re singing or doing a voice-over, it’s pretty much using the same muscle. There’s not really much of a difference.
Do you think the message of this film is geared more towards adults, this time around?
Mike Myers: I think that Shrek is a little bit like Flinstones vitamins. You don’t know that it’s good for you, but it has built in vitamins and the delivery system is very enjoyable.
Cameron Diaz: I think it’s for both adults and children. You’re never too young or too old to learn these lessons, and that’s been the case with all of the Shrek films, and it’s why they’re so successful. They’re not just speaking to one audience, they’re speaking to everyone. Anyone who watches it can understand exactly what Shrek and Fiona are going through, relevant to their own lives.
Antonio Banderas: There are always references in the movie to things that have to do with adults. I watched the first Shrek before I was a part of it, and I loved it. At the same time, the first time that I saw it, I was with my baby and she took the whole entire story in an entirely different way. She just loved the adventure and the plot of the story. And, we kept going in that direction for all four of the movies.
Do you kids come up to you and ask you to do these voices a lot?
Antonio Banderas: It’s very weird. A woman came to me once, in a supermarket, with her kid who was about five years old and she said to him, “Look, it’s Puss in Boots! Can you do the voice?” And, the kid looked up at me, and then looked at his mom and said, “That’s not Puss in Boots, mom. That’s Zorro.” In those circumstances, you don’t know what to do. It’s weird.
Eddie Murphy: I’ve had people come up and do lines from the movie to me. They don’t really ask me to do the voice. The only time I really do the voice of Donkey is when I do a shadow puppet of Donkey. When I’m watching movies at home on the screen and the movie’s not good, I have the Donkey come up and make comments like, “This movie ain’t shit!” Sometimes I take the Shrek ears – the little green ones – and have the shadows of Donkey and Shrek talk. We have some wild times in the house.
Cameron Diaz: I’ve had similar experiences as Antonio. Nobody comes up and does Fiona’s voice for me. But, I’ve had parents come up and go, “Do you know who this is? This is Princess Fiona!” And, kids are literally in tears. I always try to stop people before they tell their kids because, as a kid, you believe that the characters that you’re watching and that you fall in love with are real. You don’t want to believe that there’s a human being behind them, in the same way that you want to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. You don’t want that myth to be ruined and dispelled. I always tell parents, “Please don’t tell your kids. Let it be. Let Fiona exist as Fiona.”
Mike Myers: I’ve called kids that are sick and I’m always shocked by how incredibly accepting they are that Shrek is calling them. They’re like, “Oh, Shrek, good,” and I’m like, “Isn’t this a little extraordinary?” That’s the part that always kills me. They’ll be like, “Can you put the Tooth Fairy on now?”
Eddie, how similar are you to Donkey? Was it easy for you to find the character when you started voicing him?
Eddie Murphy: I just do it. Whenever I am on camera or doing anything on mic, I don’t have any process at all. I just do it and, when I’m finished, it goes away. There is no process. I wish there were some techniques to it. I just turn it on and off, and then I go home.
Is that with all of your characters?
Eddie Murphy: That’s with everything.
Have you seen the foreign versions of the Shrek films, with your character speaking foreign languages?
Cameron Diaz: Yes, I have. I’ve seen bits. I have seen the first three minutes of the Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and German versions. You go in for the premiere and you stay for the first three minutes, and then you leave because you have to go to the next country to promote it.
Antonio, do you get to do the Spanish version of yourself?
Antonio Banderas: Yes. I do two different Spanish versions. I do the Castilian version for Spain and Latin America, and then I do the Italian version too.
Mike Myers: I do the Canadian version, and it’s remarkably like the American version.