So A Magic Spell Was Cast…
The alternate reality story was perfect for a final chapter in the Shrek saga, according to its makers.
“It seemed like a great springboard,” says producer Gina Shay. “Shrek begins to ask himself a lot of questions about what it means to be an ogre. We went back to the basics and root of his journey.
“We knew this film really needed to be Shrek’s story, told through his eyes. Shrek begins to wonder who he's become and what life might have been like if he had never rescued Fiona from the tower.”
Now in a Far Far Away overcast in darkness, Shrek must figure out what went wrong, and how to fix it. Not before he stumbles upon a few familiar faces, stretched into different versions of their former selves…
“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,” says Cameron Diaz, who returns as Fiona.
“It’s your favourite 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 two of 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.”
In this warped alt-present, Fiona has transformed into a powerful, battle-ready ogre. Having tired of waiting for Prince Charming to rescue her from her lofty tower, in this reality Fiona took the initiative and rescued herself.
“For me, Fiona’s always been a warrior,” argues Diaz. “I’ve always seen her as that. She’s been a warrior of love through all of these films.
“It is very empowering, a little ‘I am ogress, hear me roar!’”
Meanwhile, Puss In Boots has become fat and lazy, preferring to doze his days away rather than fight the various forces of evil. For Antonio Banderas, the new angle on his character was a welcome one.
“When they came up with this story of an alternative reality and all the characters not really knowing each other, it was almost like it started from the beginning, almost like a new movie,” he says.
“I thought it was just a fantastic concept, and the re-imagination of Puss as this spoiled, pampered pet is inspired.”
Diaz is quick to assign credit where it’s due, though, stressing: “The animators are great and they’re really the great actors. They are the ones who put the looks in our eyes and create the chemistry between us.”
Like previous Shrek adventures, it was to be a collaborative effort that really fused all of the talent involved. “We would come into a session with just script pages and give the actors the set-up and they just trusted us,” says director Mike Mitchell. “It’s a great collaboration."
In fact, the world has now become so complete by the fourth adventure, that it’s hard to believe that all of these characters don’t actually exist in the real world.
“The thing that stuck out with me more than anything is that I’m still having an emotional reaction to Shrek and Fiona and wanting them to get together,” says Eddie Murphy, whose Donkey is wandering Far Far Away having never known Shrek.
“You get so caught up in the story that you kind of have to remind yourself that you’re watching animation!”