Ahead of the release of 'Shrek Forever After', Mike Myers talks about the ogre's role in pop culture, his love of hockey and his own version of 'happily-ever-after'.
Q: Hi Mike. What is the best thing about being part of the 'Shrek' films?
A: Steady employment, which is nice (laughs). No, I love how much the filmmakers care about Shrek being good. Before doing 'Shrek', I didn't think animation could move people or make people cry and have so much heart. That has been fascinating. It's a cartoon for God’s sake!
Q: How do you feel about this being the last 'Shrek' film?
A: I'm getting sadder and sadder. The more I talk to Antonio (Banderas), Cameron (Diaz) and Eddie (Murphy) about it being the end, the sadder I get. I'm glad I was part of it. When each Shrek film came out I saw how much people care about it. They care about it as much as I do. I think 'Wow!' So, I'm very grateful and appreciative and proud about being part of it. I'm also proud how they are ending it very gracefully. It's like what they do on British TV. I think it's smart it just comes to an end so eloquently.
Q: What's the biggest challenge about playing Shrek?
A: The biggest challenge is getting into the world of Shrek in the first 10 minutes when I come into the recording studio. I live in New York City and it can be an overwhelming place to live. One time, I walked past the scene of a murder and then went in to work on 'Shrek'. I had to shake that experience off. Then I had an experience where I finished work on 'Shrek' for the day, walked out and walked past a murder.
Q: What's your best memory from 'Shrek' over the 12 years?
A: The first time I saw it with an audience. They laughed at all of the jokes and were moved by the parts I really cared about.
Q: How has Shrek's voice changed over the time?
A: Shrek's voice was originally Canadian because that's where I'm from. Then it was based on the voice of a character I did, Lothar of the Hill People. But, I would do it for 10 minutes and couldn't talk for three days. It took too much out of me. My parents come from Liverpool, England, but I have some Scottish blood. Scottish people are the salt of the earth. They are also capable of being very angry, but then very loving. It's like (puts on Scottish accent) 'I told you never to come in here! Oh, come here. I love ya'. I thought that would be perfect for an ogre. It is also a working people's accent. I feel ogres are working people. I seriously put that much thought into it.
Q: What Shrek-like qualities do you possess?
A: Insecurity. I'm secure enough to admit I'm quite insecure. Growing up in Canada you feel like you walk amongst Americans, but you are slightly different. I think ogres feel slightly alienated. I have a whole childhood I can't talk to Americans about and that is Canadian TV. I'll be like "Oh, it's like on 'Mr Dressup' or 'The Friendly Giant' and they'd be like "We don't know and we don't care". It is an odd, double-life we lead. Things like the Queen. In Canada you see the Queen everywhere, but in the US you don't.
Q: Will Shrek be in the Puss in Boots spin-off movie?
A: No. Actually, I don't think so. I don't know. One thing I have learned is when you do the voices for a character you are always the last person to know anything.
Q: How would you compare Shrek to other characters in popular culture? He has been compared to icons like Mickey Mouse.
A: Well, that's a very gratifying thing to think about. For me, I love Fred Flintstone and Bugs Bunny. To even be considered in the same realm as that is amazing. Jeffrey (Katzenberg) said to me 12 years ago "Would you like to be in an animated movie called 'Shrek'?" and I said "That's a bad title". The moral of the story is don't listen to me (laughs). What do I know?
Q: Would you say Shrek is an iconic character?
A: It is hard for me to say because I'm in it. People tend to like it. I'm excited and can't believe there are now four 'Shrek' movies.
Q: What's your idea of 'Happily Ever After'?
A: It's a funny thing. I was talking to Antonio about how in Spanish 'happy' is 'feliz'. Antonio said "I hate the word happy. I like the word joy. Happy is something that people force on you like 'happy birthday' while joy is more active and has to be worked on". So, one of the things, and I hope this isn't too dry, but it is something I think about. Happiness is a choice. Happily ever after is in your hands. It's not something that happens to you. You happen to it. That's how I feel.
Q: If you could have a wish granted by Rumpelstiltskin, what would it be?
A: To be 6ft 6 tall and be a great hockey player. I'm not a good hockey player. I'm not kidding. I love to play hockey.
Q: What is it about Canadians and ice hockey?
A: You are issued your love of hockey along with your Canadian citizenship. It is mandatory. It is a sport with the excitement of boxing, has the flow of basketball and has the hand-to-eye co-ordination of tennis and has the elegance of ice skating. And we won the gold medal!
Q: Will you be watching the soccer World Cup?
A: Oh yes. I have three citizenships. I was born in Canada, my parents are from England and I'm now an American citizen. I'm 100 per cent Canadian. My Dad would be very upset with me if I didn't support England in the soccer.
Q: In this movie, Shrek gets a day taken away from him but If you could relive one day of your life what would you choose?
A: I have had so many great experiences. I'm 47. When you first start out you wonder if you can do everything you dream about doing. Then when you turn 47 you think 'Wow, how did I get to do so much amazing stuff?’ There have been so many days. I was literally called right out of the blue to be asked to do 'Saturday Night Live'. It was a phone call from Lorne Michaels. I was like "Hi," thinking it was my brother pulling a prank. Lorne said "Mike, I want you to be on the show". I said "Let me get back to you". Then there was another day when Barbra Streisand called and asked me to do her show. I was like "Oh yes!"
Q: Thanks Mike.
A: Great. Thank you.