Was there a point in these Shrek movies when you realised that you were part of
something really special?
A: Well there is always the Hallowe’en thing.
For me Hallowe’en is a very strange time because I am mostly in costume for
most of the year. So for me Hallowe’en is payback. When I did Wayne‘s World I’d
go out [at Hallowe’en] and there would be 25 Waynes. That was
weird. Then with Austin Powers and Dr Evil. But this last Hallowe’en I saw how
many Shrek kids there were. It was very surreal.
At Hallowe’en how does someone who is dressed as Shrek react when they see you? A: It is interesting. For Hallowe’en this
year I went as John Lennon, who is my hero. I love John Lennon, I grew up in
an English house and there is nobody more English than an Englishman who
doesn’t live in England any more. What I love is that little toddlers and grandparents are
happy to see me…as if I am actually Shrek, which is great! I do the voice for
them. My dad sold encyclopaedias and my mum worked in an office in a factory,
so I did not grow up with this [fame]. And it has been a strange adjustment to
have this thing happen that I am considered famous because I am not famous to
me, or my family. Trust me! So when little kids come up it is adorable and the
greatest part of my job is how excited they are. When I was a kid I used to
wait outside the MapleLeafGardens for the hockey players to come out and it was always great when
they said hello.
Chris Miller did the voice of Fiona when you were recording voices for Shrek and
said how hard it for you to stay straight faced when working… A: He did a great job. You are in this
booth and you can’t hear anybody laugh but you can sometimes see shoulders
shaking. Some of the technicians are bored. I could be juggling kittens and
have sparks coming out of my bottom and they’d still be bored. Sometimes you do
get laughs. But when Chris Miller was there doing the voices he would laugh and
I loved his Donkey and Puss In Boots. Doing this was like I was in a radio play and I could imagine the
characters. That’s what I have to do, to try and pretend I am there in the
world. So for me it’s fun. I pretended for a couple of years and I still
haven’t seen the film completely done, with all the bells and whistles. So when
I do see it I also get to be a fan.
Sometimes during recording are you so into it that you go off on an improv for
ages? A: The writing is so good and so well
conceived that it is just great to be part of an organisation that just really
wants to be great and better every time. They just improve, improve, improve.
So by the time I get there so much of the stuff has been so well conceived
already I am conscious that if I improvise and suddenly go…Look over there,
there’s 25 swans…that 3,000 people have to draw 25 swans and that would be $2
billion. So there are parameters.
Why did you decide in the first film to change to a Scottish accent after having
originally done Shrek in your own voice? A:I just felt I could do better. The fairy
tale is a Euro-centric form and Lord Farquuad was English and there seemed to
be sort of a class thing happening. The Canadian accent is sort of working
class and I’m Scottish and Irish and English. There are whole parts of my
family that are Scottish and I come from a very working class background and I
thought the Scottish accent would fit more. The other thing to is that Scottish
people are very funny when they are angry. Even when you are on the receiving
end they are pretty funny. The essence of comic acting is a lot like dramatic
acting but the transition between emotions is faster than what would exist in
nature. Scottish people can be like (soft voice) “I’m so happy you’re
here’…(Harsh loud voice) ‘NOW GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” He just felt
Scottish to me.
How do you feel about Shrek having the voice of Alain Chabat in France? A: He also did Wayne‘s world. He
came up with the French equivalent of ‘schwing’…’mega touffe’. I only have
one film poster at home – the French one, in the bathroom.It was weird at Cannes when we ran
that gauntlet of 20,000 people. When Alain Chabat came out people went crazy.
It was such a great experience and he is so funny. He is a lovely guy. I got to
meet all the Shreks, which is great too. Remarkably we all kind of look alike.
It is so odd.
Is there any down side to the success of Shrek? A: I do not think in terms of success and
failure. I think that is the path to massive unhappiness and massive
disappointment. I just try and enjoy the process and try to make it as great as
it can be. I align myself with people who want to give people value for their
money. When you go out and do something, you say you are going to do your best.
The only thing my dad taught me is that it is all about the process and the
product and not the expectation of the reward.
That’s something my dad was real big on. He
came to every one of my soccer and hockey games and he was only mad at me if I
didn’t play hard and wasn’t a sportsman. One time I didn’t shake hands at the
end of a game became a guy elbowed me. My dad came on the field and said…I
don’t care if you lost 10-0, as long as you tried your hardest.
Having said that, it has gone incredibly
well. It’s crazy! It has been a wonderful experience. The movie is excellent. I
can say this. This is what I love about promoting Shrek because I didn’t write
it. This one is the best one of the three because it is excellent.
us about the upcoming movie where you play rock star Keith Moon? A: It is in development. Keith Moon was a
hero of mine. I grew up in an English house with The Beatles, The Rolling
Stones, Led Zepplin and The Who. Moon was really funny and an interesting
combination because he had a lot of problems. The question is – was the
pathology worth the legacy? He had sop much pain that he created a whole new
drumming style. But then there was the motional carnage that was left in his
wake. He was the most exciting rock n roll drummer that ever was. It will show
the dark and light side of the moon. Driving the RR into the swimming pool is
apocryphal but I’m doing it just for me.