In 2001, Shrek became a phenomenon. It was a huge blockbuster that put DreamWorks Animation on the map. And it proved that animated family films could be just as fun for adults as children, if not more so. And Mike Myers was championed for his Scottish brogue as the title character. We almost can't image anyone else bringing this big green friendly monster to life. But it almost didn't happen that way. One of Mike Myers' Saturday Night Live co-stars was originally supposed to play the role. And now we get a taste of just how different it may have been.
Before his untimely death at the tender age of 33 years-old in December of 1997, comedian and movie star Chris Farley was chosen as the original voice of the Ogre Shrek in DreamWorks Animations upcoming family comedy adventure. The film was loosely based on William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book, and Chris Farley seemed like the perfect boisterous, yet childlike and playful persona to inhabit the swamp-dwelling do-gooder who was seen as a monster by most. And it would have been the role of a lifetime for him, as we get to see in a newly discovered story reel, where he actually lends his voice to the character for the first time.
Most people don't know that Chris Farley was cast as Shrek. Perhaps even lesser known is the fact that he completed a majority of his dialogue. It may have been easy to move forward, with the film serving as a final testament to the man's career, putting a final climax on his legacy. But DreamWorks Animation decided to recast Chris Farley. They brought in Mike Myers to replace him, who gave Shrek a very different dialect and persona. The rest, as they say, is history.
At the time, DreamWorks Animation certainly didn't know what a humongous hit it had on its hand. In hindsight, replacing Chris Farley makes total sense. Shrek has spawned three sequels with a fourth on the way. There have been many animated shorts featuring the character, and even an amusement park ride. All of which feature Mike Myers providing the voice. Had Chris Farley been used in the first movie, it would have cause a problem for future installments, as a sound-alike would have been brought in for such an iconic role. And it just wouldn't of had the same weight it does today.
Replacing Chris Farley shouldn't be seen as a blight on the actor. Though, once you see the story reel, and hear what he was doing with Shrek, you may agree that Mike Myers was the right choice all along. Shrek's development producer John Garbett uploaded this story reel, which has been shared across the Internet this morning. Even though it is from the very early days of production, you'll also get to hear Eddie Murphy as Donkey, who's voice for the character hasn't changed since 1997.
More about Chris Farley's involvement in Shrek can be see in in the new documentary I Am Chris Farley, which was released last week. Shrek finally arrived in May 2001 and went onto gross $480 million. It also took home the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It's three sequels and the Puss in Boots spinoff have brought in grosses topping over $3.5 billion at the global box office. Take a look at this story reel, and hear how history could have been changed.