Mike Myers walks into the room looking not at all like the big loveable green ogre we all know as Shrek. Yet this man is Shrek. He is the voice of Shrek and has made him one of the most enjoyable animated characters in recent history. "I just think it's kind of amazing that people loved the Shrek movies," he comments.
It has been three years since the last Shrek motion picture and in order for Myers to get back in character he admits he watched the first two films before starting work on Shrek the Third. "So I tried to make sure there was continuity, but also a little bit of maturity to it like a depth or weight, of course he's an ogre, and that was my only preparation." He also says he enjoys the fact that he isn't a writer or producer on the Shrek films. "The great thing about Shrek for me is I showed up and they've done all that. I don't even have to put on makeup. And I can go in there with a bedhead and crusty, sleepy eyes and just focus and I'm doing a radio play and in my mind I get to meet Puss N Boots, who I love, and Donkey. I wish Puss N Boots and Donkey were my pets. That's how demented I get. So that's the preparation and it's great." He smiles and says, "I think this third one is the best one."
Recording voices for animated characters is a completely different way of acting than when someone has another actor to work off of. The voice actors are usually in a small room by themselves, and it's something they either love or hate. They get several takes on a single line, yet they are always alone in the room. "It's a nice feeling you get to do multiple tries at something, which is great, but at times it does feel either like you are a goal judge in hockey or in the Witness Protection Program. You are doing your voice and the most you get through the glass is 'That was great.' I want more than 'That was great, let's try another.' So I started to develop an imaginary friend. This eagle would come out that I would talk to and if it was a good take I would go, 'caw, caw!' What's that eagle? The eagle rather liked that. It's just for my own amusement. I'm not very mature. And then it would become a two-caw take or a three-caw take, or if I thought it was crappy I would say, 'the eagle, she is very angry!' So, you compensate," Myers says with humor and adds that they are usually in the little rooms for two or three hours for each session. With the help of his imaginary eagle friend, he has been successful at making Shrek a very popular movie franchise.
Myers can create and imitate a wealth of voices, and during the interview he imitated several characters. When asked what his favorite storybook character was when he was a little boy, he doesn't hesitate before answering. "Babar, the elephant, with Celeste. My mom was an actress and we had a bookmobile and it would come to our part of the suburbs and my mom would go in there and read. She has a Liverpool accent, but she's also taken elocution lessons. My mom has a great voice. She would read and have a different voice for each character. And slowly but surely the other kids would come by and my mom would have a crowd. And I remember with Babar I was proud my mom was such a good storyteller."
Shrek has an unmistakable voice and I couldn't help asking Mike Myers if he ever uses that voice outside of recording the films. "At the Jack in the Box I do," he says with a big laugh.
Shrek the Third opens May 18 from DreamWorks Animation.