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Interview: Cheri Oteri & Amy Sedaris Are a Couple of Princesses in Shrek the Third

By B. Alan Orange — May 14th, 2007

Cheri and Amy talk about reinventing the fairytale classics for today's audience.

In Shrek the Third, Shrek and Fiona become the reluctantly rulers of Far, Far Away. Their wish is to find the rightful heir to the throne so that they can return to their home in the swamp.

The film finds Shrek, Donkey, and Puss N' Boots searching for the future King Arthur in a medieval high school. All the while, Fiona and her army of princesses must protect Far, Far Away from Prince Charming's impending, fairytale villain-laden attack.

Cheri Oteri and Amy Sedaris are new to the world of Shrek. They play two of the four princesses in charge of saving Far, Far Away from Prince Charming and his evil minion. Oteri, who is best known for her stint on Saturday Night Live plays Sleeping Beauty. And Sedaris, best known for creating the Comedy Central show Strangers with Candy plays Cinderella. Here's what the pair had to say when they recently sat down for to talk about the film:

Was there any method acting in this? Did you take a lot of naps?

Amy Sedaris: A lot of pills?

Cheri Oteri: Yes. Over the counter. I knew it was a kid's film. I took a lot of naps and slept in.

Did you do anything different with this film than you are used to with a live action film?

Amy Sedaris: They kept asking for more. And the character kept getting bigger. There was no cap. It was fun to have that freedom. You could be as broad as you wanted. That was fun.

Cheri Oteri: And they take what they want from it.

Amy Sedaris: Like most men.

As comedians, who are you trying to crack up?

Cheri Oteri: You don't understand. I grew up pretty much entertaining myself. So I know what its like to be in a room by myself and having fun with something. I'm entertaining myself, and sometimes I would look in the booth...

Amy Sedaris: And no one is there. Lunch!

Cheri Oteri: Oteri, party of one...Sometimes I'll notice that they are laughing at something, but I don't realty think about it. I'm just having fun.

How did you craft these characters?

Amy Sedaris: Well, you saw the storyboards. You saw what the characters looked like. So all you had to do was bring that along. Sometimes you don't always see a picture, so you have to guess what you are going to look like. Your hair, what you are wearing. Here, it's like you see something and then you have to pump it full of energy.

Did you play into what was already established with these certain Fairytale characters?

Amy Sedaris: I feel honored to play Cinderella, and that she has flaws. Cinderella gets to talk to herself and slap herself across the face.

Cheri Oteri: It's so healthy, the way these princesses are depicted now. They are flawed and courageous. They don't wear underwear. I was braless and nobody knew it. Except for when it got cold.

There was no fighting over which characters you got to play?

Amy Sedaris: I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty. I just heard the word princess, and I didn't know which role I was going to play.

Cheri Oteri: I couldn't believe I was getting to be a princess. I just said, "Give me the one that nobody is going to take."

These films will serve the generation to come as the way Princesses are depicted.

Cheri Oteri: Waiting for a guy to come kiss them. I would have kissed myself so I could have just gotten on with my life.

Amy Sedaris: Yeah, right.

Cheri Oteri: I think there is a good message there. But you know how to filter it when you are a kid. You know that it's just a fairytale. But I love the way these women are now.

Did you ever improvise anything that was a little too blue that had to be taken out?

Amy Sedaris: I always do. Just for myself. I tell them, "I'm just joking. I'm not really going to say that." But you know what I mean. Just to make them happy. To lighten up the mood.

I write for adults. Can you share some of those jokes?

Amy Sedaris: No.

Cheri Oteri: Mine was going to be Sleeping Beauty the Porn. Roll over! Bedhead, bedhead!

Amy Sedaris: If I were you, I would hit up Perfect Sleeper and try and do a mattress ad.

Cheri Oteri: They already had the one with the Princess and the Pea. I think I'm going for the pajamas route.

Amy Sedaris: Maybe go for that drool cup they insert in your mouth.

Cheri Oteri: My sister really drooled a lot when she was younger. For her wedding I was going to get her one of those lace drool cups that go around the ears. Yeah, she was a big drooler.

When she was awake or when she was asleep?

Cheri Oteri: When she was asleep. That's what I would think about. My sister could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. She would fall asleep on the train. Me, I never slept. Still. I have a hard time sleeping. But I used to admire her ability to wake up late. I patterned Sleeping Beauty after my sister.

And you patterned yours after your brother?

Amy Sedaris: Yeah, princess with a glass shoe. And a clubfoot.

There are so many generations of Saturday Night Live in Shrek. Do you think there is something about the show that makes it easy for them to create the characters?

Amy Sedaris: Well, all the woman on that other show were busy at the time. What is that other show that airs opposite SNL?

Cheri Oteri: Mad TV.

Amy Sedaris: They were all busy so they went to SNL.

Cheri Oteri: SNL is a comedy camp.

Amy Sedaris: That's the first place I would go...if I were casting a funny movie.

Did you ever have a desire to be on Saturday Night Live?

Amy Sedaris: No. Its not like I had a desire. When I was growing up, I was an SCTV Channel girl. I was obsessed with that show. But on SNL, I think all the girls on it are really, really funny. But I'm usually in bed when it comes on.

Cheri Oteri: Me too. People ask me what I think of it now, and I am so asleep. Even when I was on the show it was hard for me to stay up.

Amy Sedaris: I don't know how you guys do it. The schedule is crazy.

You are in Southland Tales, right? Did you see any of it?

Cheri Oteri: I did see it. I don't know if you will. I guess that was a little bit of Sci-Fi. It was dark, straight from Richard's mind. I think he has a brilliant mind. But I think Sony bought, and that it is still coming out. I don't really know. I've moved on.

But you are still in it?

Cheri Oteri: Yeah. It's a big part. Amy Poehler is in it, to.

When you saw it, did you understand it?

Cheri Oteri: Yes. But that is only because I really studied.

Do you really have a cupcake and cheeseball business?

Amy Sedaris: Mmm-hmm. I do it so that I can always say that I have a job.

Cheri Oteri: I always have this dream where I have to go back to my old job everyday. I mean, I still have this career, but I have to go back to work. As a receptionist.

Will you have another cookbook coming out?

Amy Sedaris: Not another cookbook. That's just something I had to get out of my system. I needed to get it off my shoulders. I pretty much put every recipe I had in there.

Do you have any other books coming out?

Amy Sedaris: No.

How do you feel about coming from the same school as Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin, and all the women on SNL that came before you?

Cheri Oteri: I feel really lucky. Gilda was a really strong influence on me as a kid. I so related to her. Whatever she is, I am so that too. She was so honest with the characters she created.

Do you ever think there will be a behind the scenes special on the women of SNL?

Cheri Oteri: They are doing every SNL DVD known to man. I'm sure they'll get to that soon.

Shrek the Third opens on May 18th, 2007.

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