ComingSoon.net attended the a press conference with the Shrek Forever After voice cast, including Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn, John Hamm and Craig Robinson. The event was moderated by Ryan Seacrest who asked the first few questions and then opened it up to the journalists.
In the final chapter, Shrek is overwhelmed by his domestic responsibilities. While he loves being a father and husband, the stress of it all is getting to him and he wants just one day to feel like the ogre he once was – when everyone was scared of him instead of being the local celebrity he is now. Rumpelstiltskin (Dohrn) approaches Shrek, tricking him into signing a contract that will give Shrek what he wants, but in return he must give something up – the day he was born. Not realizing he was being duped, he agrees to the terms and finds himself in an alternative universe where Fiona doesn’t know who he is and the life he once knew no longer exists. Shrek has just one day to undo what he did and restore the world he really loves.
Ryan Seacrest: Mike, looking back over the “Shrek” movies, what’s been one of your favorite moments over the last 10 years?
Mike Myers: When Jeffrey [Katzenberg] said would you like to be in an animated movie, I said, “Yes.” He said, “It’s a movie called ‘Shrek’.” I said, “That’s the worst title I’ve ever heard in my life. I didn’t know it was going to be. The first time I saw it with an audience the line, “But you are beautiful to me,” got gasps. People were so into the whole romance and the whole heart of it that I was just blown away. It was something that people could be invested in and I think that’s been the most satisfying thing for me.
Seacrest: Eddie, what’s been the secret to success to “Shrek”?
Eddie Murphy: I think it’s funny and very well made.
Myers: Hold on – I just went on for 15 minutes. I wish I’d just done that.
Murphy: I 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.
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. You get to take that journey with them of finding that love again. You open up on them in 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. You get to fall in love with Shrek and Fiona all over again.
Seacrest: Walt, how long did it take you to come up with the devious voice of Rumplestiltskin?
Walt Dohrn: As I was walking in here, I thought security was going to grab me. 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.
Seacrest: Antonio, how much fun have you had making these movies?
Antonio Banderas: A lot actually. And I expected, 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 had a lot of fun. And also memories. I remember when we opened at the Cannes Film Festival, it is happening right now, actually, and the you see the [entire representation] of Europe in the movie theatre, and interrupting the movie twelve times. It was a kind of outstanding to me, you know, a beautiful moment we have. And promotion, in around the world.
Seacrest: How did you get the role of Brogan?
Jon Hamm: Wow! I don’t know. I don’t know why the character I play on TV would lend itself to be the first choice to be an animated character. I honestly don’t know and I can’t believe I’m sitting here. When it came my way they were still trying to figure out what I was going to be – a love interest or a rival. They weren’t sure, but I was just like, “I don’t care. I just want to be a part of this.” I’ve loved the last three versions of this and went and saw all of them in the theater like I was a 13-year-old. The pure fan in me was like, I’ll go play somebody who talks backwards, on top of his head and turns around. I don’t even care. The fact that they were able to work with me and my personality to create this person who is sort of this cheerleader of sorts was fun to do.
Q: Cameron and Mike, your characters are starting all over again in a new relationship. What was that like for you two?
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…
Diaz: following the script.
Myers: It’s kind of like this lamaze birth back into the thing every time.
Diaz: I agree. It’s well structured and it’s clear as to what the two are going through.
Q: But you made it so fresh and I’m wondering how you did that?
Myers: Mike Mitchell, who is a great director.
Diaz: The animators are great and they’re really the great actors. They are the ones who put the looks in our eyes and make the chemistry between us.
Q: Antonio, tell us about the “Puss In Boots” spin-off.
Banderas: It’s sad on one side, but very satisfying because I think I did three movies for “Shrek.” Actually, sometimes playing pop culture became pop culture itself. That was it. I was in NY this year, and watching the parade from my house. The Thanksgiving parade, here was the “Shrek” balloon cross front of my window, behind him was Mickey Mouse. It became part of American pop culture right now and I am thinking it was beautiful what we have done 10 years working. It was sad one side, the other side, we got continue our saga. I hope it goes well, but totally different. We are doing so far nothing going to same narrative process than Shrek. It goes the different direction, takes more from Sergio Leone’s kind of ’60s movies, western dividing screen, stuff like that, it is a lot of fun but it is different context.
Q: Would you want to revisit “Shrek” in 10 years from now?
Diaz: I’m in.
Myers: The final chapter reunion movie? Yeah, sure. I just play the voice. I don’t really know what goes on.
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.
Q: Cameron, Fiona gets to be quite the warrior in this film and becomes very empowered. Did you ever think she may have had a better life if she went down that path?
Diaz: For me, Fiona always has been a warrior. I’ve always seen her as a warrior of love throughout all of these films. What she’s worked for, what she’s fought for is the love that she has for herself and Shrek and her family and friends. So she’s always been a warrior, it’s just a different tone for this film. Her responsibilities are just a little bit more obvious as far as the resistance. She’s always been a warrior to me. I think that’s part of her nature and it’s given her all the things in her life that she loves.
Q: Are there any fairy tales you’d want to rewrite?
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.
Q: Mike, in this movie, Shrek doesn’t want the attention anymore. He wants to go do the things he used to enjoy without people watching. Is there a parallel in your own life with the rise of your career?
Myers: I do now live in the swamp! I like my privacy. When I do something like this, I love being a part of this. And when I’m not doing stuff, I like to go away. I enjoy being a person a great deal.
Q: Do you think being Canadian gives you a different sensibility at all about that stuff?
Myers: Yeah, 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?” I think very good training just to be a person is growing up in Canada. People say a lot of things about Canada–that it’s boring and stuff–but if you look around the world, I think it’s a very civilized place to grow up.
Q: Jon, how did you find the transition going from television to voice acting?
Hamm: It was easier, a lot easier. Certainly less was demanded of me and my role in the film than it was in the television show, so that was a lot easier as well. But a whole different kind of acting, and of being in a scene when you are reading opposite people that 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. The character wasn’t funny. The character was changing and it kept changing, and I had to keep going back in and I had to redo it and the art involved with who this character was because it was a new character and was constantly shifted and there would be notes. And maybe it’s not this, it’s that. And that was a really fun process to be a part of because it’s not happening live. It’s sort of deferred until they get it exactly right. And when you’re in the hands of people who want it to be excellent, that’s a very comforting and welcoming feeling. So I tremendously enjoyed it and it was a really interesting thing to learn on the fly.
Q: 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 secondly, what do you think young audiences will learn about love from watching this movie?
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.”
Dohrn: That’s exactly what I was going to say! I have a seven-year-old daughter who means everything to me.
Myers: New York City. I love New York City. I love that I get to live there and I love everything about it! I am in love with New York City.
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 is 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.
Murphy: I just love everything and I love everyone. And I love love. [Looks at Antonio] How do you feel about love? Does anybody not love love?
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!
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.
Hamm: It’s hard to follow that so I’ll go with the second question. We live in a moment of time right now where people have a lot of information about a lot of people, but it’s also surface information, and it doesn’t really mean anything. The things that people were talking about, about what they love and what they hold dear and what they really feel strongly about, are the things that aren’t quantifiable on your Twitter or Facebook page or the gossip columns, it’s truly getting to know people and have an understanding and a relationship with them and trusting them and be vulnerable and all that stuff. And I think that’s kind of the journey that Shrek makes, 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, and I think taking that for granted and not appreciating it, not taking the time out and not appreciating the ability to do that is in some ways not appreciating the people that you share your life with. And that’s what I think Shrek and Fiona go through and rediscover, and this is all very boring and academic, but that’s what I think. And that’s what really resonates with kids, and why it appeals to not just little kids but the kid in everybody.
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. Like I was telling Shrek, you gotta fight, where there’s a will there’s a way, for what you believe in.
Q: Do you think the message is more towards the adults?
Myers: I think that Shrek is a little bit like Flintstones vitamins. You’re getting Barney and Dino and you don’t know it’s good for you. It has built in vitamins but the delivery system is very enjoyable.
Diaz: I think it’s for both adults and children. You’re never too old or too young to learn stuff and I think that’s the case with all the “Shrek” films and why they’re so successful, they’re not just speaking to one audience, they’re speaking to every… anyone who watches it can understand exactly what Shrek and Fiona are going through relevant to their own lives.
Banderas: There are always references of things that have to do with people of our age in the movie. I watched the first “Shrek” because I was not part of it and I loved it.
Q: Do you often put your voices on for kids to get reactions, do kids ask you to?
Banderas: It’s very weird. I remember a couple of times where, a woman came to me once in a supermarket with her kid who was like five years old and said to him, “Look! Look! It’s Puss In Boots!” The kid looks up and says “No mom. That’s Zorro.” You don’t know what to do. It’s weird.
Murphy: I’ve had people come up and do lines from the movie. They don’t really ask me to do the only time I really do the voice of Donkey is I can do a shadow puppet of Donkey. When I’m watching a movie at home on the screen and the movie’s not good I have the Donkey come up and make comments (demonstrates). “This movie ain’t sh*t!” Sometimes I take the Shrek ears, I have the little green ones, and have me and Shrek. We have some wild times in the house.
Myers: I called kids that have the measles, like sick or whatever. And I am always shocked how incredibly accepting they are that Shrek is calling them. Ah, Shrek good. Is just a little extraordinary? That’s the part always kills me. “Can you put Tooth Fairy on now.” “Yeah, I will get the Tooth Fairy.”
Q: Eddie, how easy for you to find the character of Donkey?
Murphy: I just do it. Whenever I am on camera or doing anything on mic, I don’t have any process at all just do it and when I finish it goes away. There is no process. I wish there was some technique to it. I just turn it on and off and then I go home.
Q: Is that with all your characters?
Murphy: With everything. Even this. When this is over I will just be gone.
Shrek Forever After opens in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D theaters on Friday, May 21st.