It’s been 15 years since Shrek 2 hit our cinema screens and it has remained one of the greatest – if not the greatest – animated film that’s ever been released thanks to its perfect blend of raunchy (but not too raunchy) humour, its well-fleshed out cast of characters, and its subversive take on the usual fairytale tropes.
While we look upon Shrek and Shrek 2 with the fondest of memories (we try to forget Shrek The Third and Shrek Forever After), so much so that news of a potential reboot is akin to blasphemy of the highest order, there was a time when Shrek was a completely different film and Shrek 2 might not have existed had this original version been made.
Before Mike Myers was cast as Shrek, the character was originally voiced by Chris Farley, a comedian best known for his work on SNL. Sadly, Farley died in 1999 before he was able to finish recording all his lines for Shrek and Myers was hired to replace him.
Upon being shown what was going on with the film, Myers came up with the Shrek we all know and love, and insisted on a complete script rewrite to ensure nothing remained of Farley’s version of Shrek out of respect for his late friend and former SNL co-star. Whereas Myers had a snarky Scottish take on the ogre, Farley’s version didn’t have any accent and was a lot more soft-spoken and thoughtful.
Farley’s work on the film has largely remained unseen but some early production footage leaked in 2015 and it shows what he could’ve brought to the role. In fact, Farley’s take on the misunderstood ogre felt so vulnerable that it would’ve resulted in a completely different version of Shrek than the final product we got.
Myers’ take on Shrek resulted in a wildly different tone for Shrek and was a key part for the film’s eventual success. However, it would’ve been very interesting to see what the movie could’ve been had Farley lived as it is evident from the leaked recording above that the film would’ve likely went down a more sensitive and less gag-heavy route than what it eventually did. Hell, who knows if we would’ve even got a Shrek 2 had everything unfolded as originally planned.
There’s no denying that we’ve been blessed with two fantastic Shrek movies (and two other less fantastic ones), but Farley voicing Shrek would’ve been something uniquely different and it remains one of the great “what-ifs” in film.