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Shrek: How the Scottish ogre was originally meant to sound completely different

·2-min read
Shrek turns 20 this May (Moviestore/Shutterstock)
Shrek turns 20 this May (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

We may know the character of Shrek by his instantly recognisable Scottish accent, but the character was originally meant to sound very different.

The Dreamworks animated film, which turns 20 today (18 May), stars Mike Myers as an ogre forced to go on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz).

But before Myers was cast, Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley was originally meant to voice the main character in Shrek, recording nearly all of the dialogue written for the film in a light New York accent not dissimilar from his own Wisconsin dialect.

However, when Farley died aged 33 in 1997, another SNL alum, Myers, stepped into the role.

The Austin Powers star insisted that the entire script was rewritten and recorded the lines in his own Canadian accent, but later asked to re-record everything in a Scottish dialect.

The reasoning behind the change? As Shrek’s nemesis Lord Farquaard (John Lithgow) spoke with a posh English accent, Myers revealed in an interview that he wanted Shrek to seem “working class” in comparison.

“There is a class struggle in Shrek between the fairy-tale kings and queens and the common people,” Myers told USA Today in 2010.

“I always thought that Shrek was raised working class. And since Lord Farquaad was played English, I thought of Scottish.”

With the film mid-production, this meant the animation team had to redo every scene starring Shrek that they had done so far (about one-third of the entire film), costing the newly launched Dreamworks a reported $4-5m (£2.8-£3.5m).

Despite this accounting for roughly 10 per cent of the original film’s budget, it worked out in the end. Shrek grossed $484m (£341m) in the global box office and spawned three sequels, being selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2020 as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” work.

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