Diaz and Andrews discusses there on-screen mother-daughter relationship

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.

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Cameron Diaz once again returns to her role as Fiona, the pregnant green bride of an ogre. Dame Julie Andrews also returns, once again reprising her role as Queen Lillian. The two actresses recently sat down together to talk about the film.

Dame Julie Andrews: Good morning everybody. You've met my daughter?

Q: She's the spitting image of you.

Cameron Diaz: I wish.

Q: So, Cameron. You're blond again.

Cameron Diaz: I am. I went in for highlights and came out looking like this.

Dame Julie Andrews: It's very pretty.

Cameron Diaz: Thank you.

Q: Cameron, when you started working on the first Shrek, did you have any idea that it would grow to be this big?

Cameron Diaz: No idea. I had no idea what I'd be doing at all. Period. You know? I didn't have any clue as to what the process was. I didn't know what I had to do to participate in an animated film. I didn't know the process or what my part would be until I got there. Its been a learning process all the way through. But I'm happy that it's gotten this far. Because people have gotten so much out of it. And they want more. It's great to be a part of that.

Q: What have you learned working on all three of these sequels?

Cameron Diaz: Well, I've learned how to act with a podium.

Dame Julie Andrews: It's tough. It is.

Cameron Diaz: To learn about my character? In a live action film you get to spend a lot of time with the script. You have to learn it. And sit with it. This is a whole different thing. You have to learn how your character fits into the whole entire story. This process is very isolating. You don't get the script. And you don't get the characters. I've learned a lot about Fiona doing three movies with her. Rather than spending a month doing it, and its done.

Dame Julie Andrews: That's what I was going to say. Now we all know our characters a little better. And the writers have written into them a little bit more. And the public is also bringing something into it. They have an awareness of the characters and that helps a lot.

Q: Julie, when you came on board, it was already a phenomenon. Did you know you'd be coming back for sequels?

Dame Julie Andrews: For three and maybe four? No, I didn't. But I am so happy they asked me back. I am so pleased to be a part of it.

(Cameron pours Julie some water)

Q: How do you feel about all the kids that have watched you over the decades? First with the Disney movies, and now with these?

Dame Julie Andrews: I feel great that I have been a part f it all. I think Shrek is an iconic film. I think it will be around for a very long time. It is done so well. The good thing about it is that it stands all the traditional fairytales on their head, yet it has such a traditional underpinning. It has all the right values. It's about decency. It's about loving who you are and being unique. It's about being kind and decent. That's what every great fairytale is about.

Q: When you smashed your head through the wall, did you get to pick the song that you were singing?

Dame Julie Andrews: (Laughs) A little bit. Just a little bit. We tried a few, and this is the one that stuck.

Q: Did you have any say in the development of your characters?

Cameron Diaz: You know. Fiona's biggest stride in evolution came with the first film. Which I had nothing to do with. She was in the tower. That was where we first met her. When she got out of the tower, she realized that once she hit ground, she was probably capable of getting out of that tower at any time she wanted too. She was just following the story. She was doing what she thought she was supposed to be doing. She was the princess that was supposed to be rescued. But, truly, when she accepted who she was, when she accepted that she was an ogre, that's when she was most in power. From then on out, she has been the steady rock. She has been the anchor. She understands herself, and she accepts herself. She is the sort of anchor that holds all these cocky characters together. This tribe called Shrek. I feel like she is the straight man in the comedy. She just has to keep going forward. What I realized was that, once she got married, the guys turned her into a nag. Fiona all of a sudden had a little nag happening. I told them, "Guys, just because she got married doesn't mean she has to turn into a nag all of a sudden." I thought this was a partnership. And she has to understand what he is going through is really difficult as well. He's an Ogre, he has to rule this kingdom. He can't step up every single time. When I explained this to them, the writers got it. They said, "Oh yeah. You are right." Not to flap my own feathers, but that is the one thing I got them to change. You asked.

Q: Isn't it great that you can have conversations like that about a cartoon?

Dame Julie Andrews: It is.

Cameron Diaz: Well, it is a character to me. Fiona is someone I really respect. I respect her. I want to protect her. Even though she's a cartoon...

Dame Julia Andrews: Oh, yeah. You have to look after her.

Cameron Diaz: Kids look at it as if it is real. You have an obligation.

Q: At this point in your career, Cameron, do you fell that you've developed your own "A" list persona the way other stars have been able too? Do you feel there are elements of that that come through in characters like Fiona?

Cameron Diaz: Well, I don't know.

Dame Julia Andrews: I don't think that Fiona will ever be forgotten.

Cameron Diaz: I think she is part of my screen persona. Rather than putting myself through her, I think she comes through me. She's one of those characters where, when people think of me they think of Fiona. Not the other way around. It is a testimony to how great this franchise is. I think the same sentiment goes through for all the actors that have voiced characters in this film. When you think of Antonia Banderas, you don't think Puss N' Boots. When you think of Puss N' Boots, you do think of Antonio Banderas. I think it's an interesting thing in that way. Yeah.

Q: Do you think animation will ever get to the point where the voice actor is recognized for an Oscar?

Dame Julia Andrews: I do. Did you see this last one? Didn't you notice the extraordinary quality of the film now? I thought Two was about as good as digital animation could get.

Q: I meant, an Oscar for the actor.

Dame Julia Andrews: Oh, I see. I thought you were speaking for the movie itself. I didn't realize that you were talking about me. Do you mean getting an Oscar just for doing your voice?

Cameron Diaz: I think that it is appropriate that there is a category for the animation. Because the animators are the actors in these movies. I've seen scenes where they are not fully animated. As the progression goes, you're like, "Oh, that was pretty good." But no matter what I do with my voice, it's not going to be emoted. It's not going to reach the audience until they've done all the animation. I've seen where it is not fully animated, and the moment isn't there. Then, when it is fully animated, you go, "Oh, my God. That was so touching." The animators have fully realized that moment. They have created it. They are the actors. For me, solely, I wont take any credit for acting in this.

Dame Julia Andrews: We're not doing anything in this other than adding texture.

Cameron Diaz: They are the ones who add the moment.

Dame Julia Andrews: But, yeah, they definitely should be the ones who get all the credit.

Q: Do you feel that the creators of Shrek are able to take more liberties than someone who is working in live action films?

Dame Julia Andrews: That is a good question. I don't know.

Cameron Diaz: I don't think so.

Dame Julia Andrews: I'll tell you were the animation takes chances. It's when they take the rise out of something like The Sound of Music or Hollywood itself.

Cameron Diaz: That's because the animators' faces aren't on it. If you saw Antonio Banderas in a live action film being Puss N' Boots, you'd be like, "What the Hell?" But as an animated cat with boots this big, you go, "Oh, yeah. Of course." There is a liberty that we can't take in a live action film. It is rather liberating to sort of be behind this thing, where you can make the crazy stupid faces. The things that I have done to figure out the moment? Those are the things that I don't want people to witness. We are doing it at a moment were we don't get to see the animation. The world hasn't yet been created around us. So we can't look at it. I didn't know what Far, Far Away looked like until we were finished. They explained it to us, but you don't really get what the community feels like.

Q: Do you feel that your imaginative powers really get stretched in those moments?

Cameron Diaz: Mmm-Hmm.

Dame Julia Andrews: Creative powers, yeah. You always hope you can live up to what they are trying to pull off.

Cameron Diaz: The great thing is that if you don't pull it off, you can always come back and redo it.

Dame Julia Andrews: Have you done much looping?

Cameron Diaz: I haven't had to do much looping, but I have had to change the lines. They animate it, then they decide to change the story. I've gone in and redone the lines to send it into another direction. They just reanimate it.

Q: Back when you made The Holiday, you said that you were being more choosey when it came to the roles you pick. That you didn't want to work, basically.

Cameron Diaz: I want to work. I love making movies. Its one of my greatest joys. I don't want to make a movie just to make a movie.

Q: What have you chosen for your next project?

Cameron Diaz: It's not totally done yet.

Q: You also told us that you like to spend Christmas in Los Angeles, because everyone else is gone. Well, people don't leave for the summer. Do you have any plans to go anywhere?

Cameron Diaz: I don't know. If I'm working it will change everything.

Q: What's up with you, Julie?

Dame Julia Andrews: A couple of things. I'm going to be doing a narration for Disney over the movie called Enchanted. That happens in June for me. I am also working on my autobiography. It is due out next April.

Cameron Diaz: That's exciting.

Dame Julia Andrews: That's what I hope people might say. It's daunting at the moment. We'll see. I'm almost done.

Q: Are you going to be doing any more fantasy books?

Dame Julia Andrews: Yes, indeed I am. We just had one book that came out last week called 'Next to You.' I just gave Cameron a copy. And we have at least three more coming out this year. Not necessarily by me. But my publishing company as well. We bring in other authors, and search for them. And we are looking at an out of print book that may be worthy of reconsideration.

Q: Julie, since you've come to Hollywood, do you think that people give animation more respect now than when you worked on something like Mary Poppins?

Dame Julia Andrews: I came from the era of Bambiand Dumbo, and there was huge respect. I think after that, it took a little dip. There was a moment where one thought, "Animation is finished. They wont be doing it any more." I am so glad that there is so much of it now. It proves to me that Hollywood is recyclable. Things go around, and around, and around. Before Rocky Balboa came out, they said they'd never make another boxing movie. You know? Look what happened.

Q: Have either of you been asked to do other animated features because of the success of these.

Dame Julia Andrews: I haven't yet, but I'm hoping they will.

Shrek the Third opens May 18th, 2007.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange