Shrek was the surprise hit of 2001 with its unique comedic take on fairytales. If you were a child, you were immediately drawn in by the hysterical disgustingness of the ogre, Shrek, and his adventure with Donkey to rescue Princess Fiona for Lord Farquaad. And if you were a grown-up bringing your child to the movie, you enjoyed the satirical fairytale story with its subtle crude jokes thrown in here and there.
The story itself was based loosely on William Steig's 1990 children's picture book by the same name, but the writers of the film clearly took some creative licensing with their version.
The movie not only ended up being a huge blockbuster hit but made its production company, Dreamworks, a household name. They would go on to have several other animated franchises including Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, to name just a couple.
But Shrek was a movie that really stood out from all of the other children's movies that were out at the time. You wouldn't think that a story about a scary and gross ogre falling in love with a princess would be something people would gravitate to, but it was. It became a staple of many of our childhoods and made us realize that there is always more than meets the eye when it comes to people...or ogres, in this case.
So if Shrek was a childhood favorite of yours, as it is mine, then you will definitely enjoy these 25 Crazy Shrek Facts Only Super Fans Knew About The Dreamworks Classic.
25 Shrek’s Original Concept Art
In any making of an animated film, there tends to be a long process where one or more artists come up with their own concept art of how they think the characters should be seen. They typically will come in, one by one, and pitch their ideas to the film's team, and they will then have to decide who best captured the essence of the characters. And the same was true for the making of Shrek.
In fact, they had four different artists come in for production design and they each submitted their own concept art for the project. One artist who was hired was Barry E. Jackson, and his version of Shrek was something very different than the Shrek we now know.
He looked far more like a scary, disgusting ogre that was described in the picture book, Shrek!, rather than the human-like version we met in the Shrek films.
Sure, Shrek in the movies was still pretty gross and not entirely human-looking, but he still was made to be a bit more relatable and funny, with features that are decidedly more human than like an ogre.
In the end, the team went with a different version, as we know, but Jackson's concept art was still pretty incredible if you ask me.
24 Artful References
There was a certain scene in Shrek where we finally started to see there just may be more to this frightening ogre that we just have yet to see. And it was all thanks to the ogre himself: Shrek.
This particular scene was when Shrek and Donkey were on their quest to Lord Farquaad’s castle to try and get the fairytale characters out of his swamp.
Shrek starts to explain to Donkey that, “Ogres are like onions.”
This baffles Donkey as he attempts to guess what he means by that.
After their guessing game, Shrek clarifies what he meant by saying, “Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. You get it? We both have layers.” Meaning you have to peel each one back to see that there is more going on than just what is on the surface.
This was very deep, especially for Shrek, but it turns out the writers took their inspiration for the quote from a play. The play was Peer Gynt from Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. And he was the first to talk about the notion of a person having more layers to them, much like onions.
That is quite the artistic reference for a kid’s movie.
23 Eddie Murphy’s Favorite Role
In every actor’s career, they are typically able to pick out their favorite role they have ever played, or at least, the best work they have ever done on a film or television show. The same was true for Eddie Murphy, who was the voice of the beloved waffle-loving Donkey in Shrek.
And funnily enough, playing Donkey in the movie made him realize that this was now his best work he had ever done. That means that Donkey beat out several other iconic roles of his, including Detective Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, Prince Akeem in Coming To America, and several other characters that he portrayed in his Saturday Night Live days.
It is understandable though. Donkey not only was one of the most hilarious characters in Shrek, but he is also probably almost everyone’s favorite character from the entire franchise.
Murphy has even said he will probably be most remembered for that role over several other roles he has had, including those that were previously listed here. He went on to joke that if he were to pass away, it would be Donkey's photo in the In Memoriam, instead of his own.
That is quite the statement, but also most likely a true statement.
22 A Star Is Born
Anyone who is an entertainer of any kind knows what an honor it is to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So many legends have gotten their own stars, too many to count, in fact, so it is truly a great thing to have happen to you at any point in your career. It is a very elaborate ceremony, which includes not only getting your star on the Walk of Fame but also having famous friends of your's speak about your fantastic career.
Shrek, the character, was able to find out how great of an honor it was back in 2010. Yes, Shrek as in the ogre we watched for four different films, has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
That is quite a big deal for anybody, but especially someone who is a fictional - and animated - character in a kid’s movie. Mike Myers, was, of course, there to honor the character that became such a huge deal not only for children everywhere but Dreamworks, as well as Myers himself.
He gave quite the speech for his character, and Shrek was there in his ogre get-up to be a part of the ceremony and to hear his speech.
If any fictional character deserves a star, it is Shrek.
21 Knock-Off Eeyore
We have talked a lot about the many goings on in making a film. There are many details that may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things to the viewers, such as us, but it could literally make or break the film in the end.
That is why it is extremely important to get the exact drawing of a character right, or it may not come across the way you want it to.
So during the drawing stages of an animated film, there are typically many iterations of the same character before they settle on one in particular. The same was true for Donkey, although according to the artists, he was the easiest one to sketch.
This was simply because there was no reference for what a talking donkey would actually look like, so they were able to take some creative licensing when drawing.
The first drawings of him looked a whole lot more like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh, apparently. Of course, we all know that he went on to look much different than poor, old Eeyore, but that is certainly an interesting tidbit of information. Plus, I much prefer the artistic creation of Donkey they went with in the end, anyway.
20 The Internet’s Shrek Obsession
For those of us who grew up watching Shrek in the very early-2000s, he was just a part of our childhood and the title character in one of our favorite funny movies. Even though at times he could be slightly inappropriate, our young minds rarely caught onto it anyways. He was looked at as the hilariously gross but sweet ogre who just wanted to be accepted.
But now, thanks to the Internet, he has taken on a whole new life.
Apparently, the internet is absolutely obsessed with the ogre….and in some seriously disturbing ways.
It all started in 2009 when the film launched its official page on Facebook. It spiraled from there, where a world full of awful and creepy fan fiction, as well as fan art, emerged from the depths and left the rest of us here to scratch our heads (as well as recoil in disgust).
I won’t get into the graphics of everything, but basically, a lot of the fan fiction and fan art can go from being disgusting to even grown up in nature, and sometimes, at lightning speed.
These dedicated fans of Shrek’s call themselves Brogres. I'm not entirely sure where this sudden obsession with the character came from, but to each their own, I suppose….
19 DreamWorks’ Savior
It is always a huge deal when a movie is able to save a production company from extinction. It is even a bigger deal when the movie that is able to do that is a comical fairytale story that is for children.
But Shrek did just that because it was a box office hit when it came out in 2001, and it ended up bringing in nearly 500 million dollars, worldwide. It eventually went on to become a franchise that also brought in a ridiculous amount of money.
So, in the end, it quite literally saved the Dreamworks company in a financial aspect. But it also saved them by creating a Dreamworks Animation image which further let them make films such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and How To Train Your Dragon. It made people flock to see the new films they would release, all because of the Shrek name.
All of those films also went on to become their own franchises, which in turn, meant they were also bringing in a lot of money.
Basically, Shrek saved the Dreamworks company a million times over. It is no wonder, though, since the movie was so incredibly funny and became a huge part of most of 90's babies childhood's everywhere.
So thank you, Shrek, for saving the day, once again.
18 Shrek The Musical
The entirety of the Shrek franchise was such a huge hit, that it spawned other series related to it, as well as a musical. I can only imagine just how difficult it must be to transform an actor into the green ogre we adore in a musical, but I’m sure the results are worth it, judging from the rave reviews it has received since its conception in 2008.
Since then, more has been told about subtle changes made to the story for the musical, including a scene where we see more of a backstory from Shrek, as well as a cameo with a young Princess Fiona.
In this scene, we find out that Shrek had apparently left his home at the age of seven to “see the world” - which evidently happened often in ogre families.
During this adventure of his, he is instantly hated by everyone in the streets that he explored, except for a young Princess Fiona. She saw him and waved until she was pulled away by her parents.
It was a sweet scene that showed more of the Shrek we already love. Plus, it leads directly into him coming across his future swamp home. And that is just where the story starts…
Often in comedy routines, or sitcoms, or comedic movies, there is some level of improvisation used during the movie. Particularly if an actor excels at it. So it is always interesting to me, as well as entertaining, when an actor or actress improvises something, even sometimes unintentionally, and it makes it directly into the project they are working on.
That exact circumstance ended up happening during the making of Shrek. Cameron Diaz had burped one day after partaking in a Coca-Cola, and it ended up making it into the film. It was because she was actually recording at the time, so they just kept it and wrote it in for Princess Fiona’s character.
Eddie Murphy later improvised the line in response to that moment that also made it into the film. The iconic line I’m referring to, of course, is, “She’s as nasty as you are!”
That is why I have always found that some of my favorite parts of films or lines in movies tend to be those that weren't even planned in the first place.
And maybe, that is the true mark of a great actor. Although, in this case, we have Diaz's normal bodily function to thank, I suppose.
16 Children To The Rescue
Those who have talked about children being the future are typically correct. But this next fact shows that kids that are still very young can make just as much of an impact, even if they don't fully realize it yet.
It is not very often that two children under the age of six are able to take responsibility for making a film such as Shrek, that would go on to be quite successful, happen in the first place. For that matter, it is rare for any child, no matter what age they are to be able to do that.
But that is what happened when John H. Williams’ children came to him with the Shrek! picture book. Apparently, the kids, who were in kindergarten and pre-school respectively, had read the book multiple times and loved it.
So Williams brought it to Katzenberg, and the rest is history.
If it hadn't been for Williams' two little tykes, we may have never gotten to see the story of Shrek and Princess Fiona falling in love, while Lord Farquaad antagonizes them, and Donkey being there just to go along for the ride.
I can honestly say that is a world I would not want to live in. Dreamworks would probably agree, I'm assuming.
15 A Bit Of An Oversight
Usually, there are mistakes made when making films. Yes, even in the perfectionistic world of filmmaking, they still make mistakes. And often, I might add. Heck, there is even a whole section on IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) that shows all of the “goofs” made in films.
So it is not shocking at all that the same thing occurred during the making of Shrek. This one, though, could have made a very important scene in the movie a bit confusing.
The scene in question is when Shrek discovers all of the banished fairytale creatures in his swamp. He yells at all of them, “What are you doing in my swamp?!”
But in the original cut of the film, they realized too late that the line had never been read by Mike Myers.
It seems they had forgotten to record it somehow. So, producer, Jeffrey Katzenberg ended up having to fly all the way to New York City, where Myers currently was, and he had him read the line while in the back of a limo.
At least they found the "goof" in the first place and made it right, even if it took more time and money to achieve the iconic line.
That was a close call.
14 A Duloc World After All
Anyone who has been to Disneyland knows all about the It’s A Small World ride there. It is a fun yet slow-moving ride where children from all over the world are singing “It’s a small world after all” over and over, to show we are all one in the same, despite our differences.
Well, if you are aware of that ride and its companion song, you probably noticed that Shrek decided to spoof both the ride and their famous song in one unforgettable moment in the film.
When Shrek and Donkey first arrive in Duloc, at Lord Farquaad’s castle to be exact, they are greeted at the entrance by singing puppets, singing about how great Duloc is. It includes robotic dancing…as well as a very familiar melody. Their song has the same exact number of beats per minute and is also in the same key, further proving they are parodying the classic Disney song.
It was a hilarious moment in the film that left Donkey and Shrek looking at each other as if they were wondering what they had gotten themselves into. This was not the only reference to Disney and Disneyland in the film, as we'll talk about later, but it was definitely the funniest one.
13 An Issue Of Stature
It is very rare that someone who is voicing a character in an animated film looks anything like their character. But it is always interesting when a character looks so far and away from the man voicing him that it's nearly comical.
So when John Lithgow, who voiced Lord Farquaad, realized that his height was vastly different from his character's, he thought about something he had said in the past. The thing is John Lithgow is definitely taller than the average man. Standing at 6’4”, he had always said he never wanted to portray a “short character.” In any way, shape, or form. But when the opportunity to play Lord Farquaad came up, he could not pass it up.
While it went against everything he had said before, he also had a loophole here - he wasn’t actually going to be seen on screen himself since the film was an animated movie.
It is still humorous though that after being so adamant about not playing a short character, here he was, playing an incredibly short man who is made fun of constantly for it.
Even Lithgow himself found the whole situation quite amusing. And did not regret one bit in taking the role.
12 Monsieur Hood Vs. Robin Hood
A slight controversy struck the movie when people who are dedicated fans of Robin Hood and the legend that precedes him, realized that the character that is meant to be him in Shrek has a very different accent than that of Robin Hood.
Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood, after all. The English outlaw who was a hero to the poor and a menace to the rich. He was also a “highly skilled archer and swordsman.” He has been featured in numerous films, television shows, and literary works.
So when the writers behind Shrek decided to do their own version of Robin Hood, audiences were a little perturbed that he was very clearly French, instead of English.
What they didn’t seem to realize is Monsieur Hood was not supposed to be Robin Hood, technically, but rather a parody of the heroic outlaw. This was indicated not only by his own name in the film (Monsieur Hood is very clearly a French name) but by the fact he was never actually called by the name Robin.
Plus, the French accent was a dead giveaway.
So in actuality, there was nothing for the audiences to actually be upset by. Sorry to burst your bubbles, Robin Hood fact checkers.
11 Farquaad’s Business Ventures
Lord Farquaad was quite the villain who was not only a greedy and cruel man but also only had one thought on his mind (most of the time): becoming the official King of Duloc.
And while Lord Farquaad was the antagonist of this hit film, as we all know, there may have been more to him than we even gave him credit for.
Sure, he’s definitely an awful man who only wants power, money, and a trophy wife, but he’s also portrayed to be ridiculous and at times, quite dumb, which may not be entirely true.
He apparently had further ambitions than just ruling Duloc with his new, pretty wife, Princess Fiona - had that actually happened - and had plans for Duloc’s future.
This occurred in a deleted scene of the movie, where it was shown that he had a long-term plan for the town he ruled.
It depicted Lord Farquaad coming up with different types of plans for the town, including turning the whole place into “one large supermarket.” Okay, maybe not his best plan, but at least he was striving to be a businessman outside of his other duties.
Even with all of this new information, though, we can still say that Lord Farquaad was just the worst, right?
10 Kung-Fu Fighting
Cameron Diaz, who voiced Princess Fiona in the Shrek movies, has had many roles that have each made her even more famous in one way or another. I mean, with roles in films such as There's Something About Mary and The Mask under her belt, she was a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
So before Shrek had come out, she had been filming and released the first Charlie’s Angels reboot, which was another hit for her. She portrayed Natalie Cook in the film, and she was very skilled in hand-to-hand combat.
This meant that she had actually had Kung-Fu training when working on that film, and it ended up helping her with a certain scene in Shrek as well.
This was during the scene where Monsieur Hood and his Merry Men come to kidnap the Princess, and she actually engages in an epic fight scene with them all, where she performs Kung-Fu moves to thwart their attempts at kidnapping.
Cameron would get very physical when doing her voice-over work for the scene, and would even break out into Cantonese occasionally while doing it.
While it’s quite comical to picture her doing that, it definitely sold the scene.
9 Ogre Problems
One of the main aspects of the movie is that everyone finds ogres to be frightening, repulsive creatures, even though Shrek is relatively harmless. All he wants is his swamp back, after all. He prefers to live in peace and solitude, which, thanks to Lord Farquaad, is taken from him when he sends all of the fairytale creatures to his swamp home. Even so, any person who came across the ogre found him to be scary and disgusting.
And apparently, when casting was going on for the film, some actors felt the same exact way. See, when Dreamworks executives were looking to cast the role of Shrek, they were first looking at the likes of Tom Cruise and even Leonardo Dicaprio for the title role. That is until they offered the part to Nicolas Cage.
That obviously fell through, and we found out why during an interview he gave with The Daily Mail. He said, “I just didn’t want to look like an ogre.” He went on to say that, “Maybe I should have done it looking back.”
Seeing as the film was a wild success, I’d say so. But it was probably all for the best, because at this point, could you even picture anyone else in the role other than Mike Myers?
8 Original Shrek And Donkey
Back when Steven Spielberg was in charge of Amblin Entertainment, he was actually going to produce Shrek in 1991. And during that time, he had a very specific vision in his head for the film, including who he wanted to play the pivotal roles of Shrek and Donkey.
He was looking at veteran comedians, two in particular, who he felt would be absolutely perfect for their roles. In the role of Donkey, he wanted the incomparable Steve Martin. And then, in the title role of Shrek, he wanted the wildly funny Bill Murray.
For those who somehow aren't aware, Bill Murray and Steve Martin have each starred in some of the best comedies of all-time. For example, Bill Murray starred in all of the Ghostbusters films, as well as Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. While Steve Martin starred in hilarious films such as The Jerk, Roxanne, and Three Amigos.
So, having said that, those two are obviously comedy royalty and probably would have made the roles just as iconic as Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy did. But they also would have both brought completely different approaches to the characters that we now know and love.
It is still interesting to think of what it would have been like to see them in those roles, though, I must say.
7 The Study Of Mud Baths
There is something to be said for a crew that goes above and beyond the call of duty when making a film, especially one that is animated. And the crew of Shrek definitely went far past expectations of their jobs to make sure everything was absolutely perfect for the children's movie.
That included taking mud baths.
Yep, you heard that right.
The effects department would actually take mud showers and baths to study the movements of the mud when doing that activity. This was so they would correctly portray the movements during the animation process, which is extremely tedious work.
It makes sense, since that is a difficult task to do, especially back in the late-90’s to early-2000s. Things like the mud movements, the water movements, or even a crackling fire’s movements, were difficult to capture correctly.
So they decided to take matters into their own hands and literally study the movements from the mud as they were submerged in said mud. That is true dedication.
It just goes to show you that there are so many different departments in just one film to make it the perfect end result that we see in theaters. And apparently, that includes a mud movement department in Shrek's case.
6 Uncanny Resemblance
The character of Donkey was not your average donkey, that’s for sure. Of course, part of the reason he is not the typical donkey is the fact that he can speak to humans. That is what gets him sent to Shrek’s swamp in the first place, after all. But even his movements are that of a dog or a rabbit instead of a donkey, as the animators have stated in the past.
All that being said, he does have a lot in common with one donkey in particular in the looks department, and that is because they modeled Donkey to look exactly like him.
And this donkey in question is a real miniature donkey that resides in Palo Alto, California.
His name is Perry and he lives in the Barron Park neighborhood of Palo Alto. He now is very famous to local residents for his part in helping make the Donkey character in Shrek come to life.
When you look at his photo, you can certainly see where the animators took inspiration from in the real-life donkey for the movie's version of him. Not only is he short (as in miniature), but he's also just as adorably quirky in his facial features. Job well done, animators.
5 From A Distance
When actors are working together on the set of a film, there is a certain camaraderie that begins between them due to the long days and sometimes long nights that they are working with each other. Most days, they will see their co-workers more than their own families. But things are a little different when it comes to voice actors and their co-workers.
See, while it is always great for actors who are doing voice-over work on an animated film or television show together to work in the same room while they record so they can feed off of the other’s reactions, it is rarely the case.
And that is precisely why none of the principal actors on Shrek ever met each other while filming.
It may seem odd to us that they each had to record their lines separately and at different times, but that is just how films such as this work. John Lithgow did express, though, that while he immensely enjoyed playing Lord Farquaad in the film, he felt disappointed that he never got to work directly with any of the other actors, including Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona.
Let's hope they at least grabbed drinks together after the premiere of the film to make up for lost time.
4 A Significant Rivalry
Sometimes certain beef between two people just can’t be squashed. Even in the film industry…or especially in the film industry. And there is one feud that directly affected the making of Shrek.
This is because it has long been rumored that Jeffrey Katzenberg, who acted as a producer on Shrek, has a serious issue with his former Disney boss, Michael Eisner.
Because of this, it has been thought that the character of Lord Farquaad was a way to stir the pot even further with Eisner as it is supposed to represent him, especially when considering his small stature in the movie. This was directly referencing a quote from Eisner in a lawsuit between the two about Katzenberg’s height.
Eisner is 6’3” while Katzenberg is 5’4.” So it is apparent Katzenberg never forgot that dig and decided to make the visual representation of Eisner a bit…smaller. Plus, Farquaad’s name alone is a dig when you sound it out.
Furthermore, their squabbles seemed to be a significant reason for a lot of the plot lines in Shrek in the first place - but more on that later. Needless to say, these two Hollywood big shots will never resolve this feud between them. But at least it gave us Lord Farquaad.
3 Location Scouting
Any film, whether it be animated or not, has to be scouted for locations by the person who is in charge of the department. This is to authenticate the scenes in the film and to really set the mood for what is to come.
In this case, the film’s art director was the one in charge of the task, since he would be taking inspiration from certain locations to enhance the realistic nature of the scenes all throughout Shrek.
So when he went to Charleston, South Carolina, he found just the inspiration he had been looking for.
Douglas Rogers (the art director) found a place there that was a magnolia plantation where he did research to get the look of Shrek’s swamp just right. It was perfect and exactly what he had been looking for, for the film.
While there, though, he was in for quite the big surprise. And that surprise was an alligator, that unfortunately, ended up chasing him.
Once again, this crew’s dedication is something else. Though, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting the alligator to run at him.
All I can say is I hope he felt it was worth every bit of running from the alligator because that is a seriously scary situation to be in all for research for work.
2 Live-Action Shrek
Whenever a film is being made, there are typically many different versions of what they want to happen with the film before the final cut is actually done. And by that time, it is usually vastly different from their original plan.
Whether it be because the actors they originally wanted ended up not fitting the roles as they once thought they could, or maybe it was the way they wrote the script. Either way, it's a serious pain to have to have to start from scratch and do it all over again.
The same exact thing is what occurred during the making of Shrek. Shrek was originally conceived to be a “live-action/CGI animation hybrid.” Unfortunately, though, when they did a test screening of the movie in 1997, it went less than well. Audiences just didn't respond to it like they had hoped they would.
They then had to scrap what they had done and go in a completely different direction. This meant that Dreamworks’ production partners (Pacific Data Images) had to do all of the animations for the entirety of the film at that point.
That included “31 sequences, with 1,288 shots in each sequence, and 36 different locations.” No wonder it took years to complete it. Lucky for us, it was well worth the wait.
1 Avoiding A Lawsuit
We’ve talked already about the rivalry between the Disney exec, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the producer of Shrek. But there’s a bit more that went on with it that we have not discussed yet.
See, Shrek has been believed to have multiple jabs all throughout the film that are directly at Disney. Whether it be their views of the ridiculous notions of fairytales, which is primarily the type of movies Disney has been making since the 30’s, or the fact that Lord Farquaad’s castle even resembles Disneyland when you look at it.
Plus, once they enter Duloc in Shrek, they meet those puppets we’ve mentioned before who sing an eerily similar song as the It’s A Small World ride at Disneyland.
Because of all of those facts, they had to screen the film with Dreamworks and Disney lawyers just to avoid a lawsuit from Disney.
That, at the time, was a very dramatic turn of events for a children's movie.
Luckily for them, no legal action occurred after that point, though Radio Disney affiliates did decide to not allow Dreamworks any ad time to promote Shrek.
Seems the feud between the two execs is just never going to end.