Voice Cast Cavalcade: Shrek Forever After

04.29.2010

This article was originally published Feb. 1st 2010 and has since been expanded. Please scroll down for the most recent updates and additions.

Shrek 4 image courtesy of Shrek.com

Shrek Forever After (aka Shrek The Final Chapter in 3D) is reportedly the final film for the Shrek movie franchise scheduled for release May 21st, 2010.

Here’s the plot summary via IMDb.com:

A bored and domesticated Shrek pacts with deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin to get back to feeling like a real ogre again, but when he’s duped and sent to a twisted version of Far Far Away — where Rumpelstiltskin is king, ogres are hunted, and he and Fiona have never met — he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his true love.

Shrek Forever After features returning cast members Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. Other confirmed cast members: comedian Kathy Griffin, Meredith Vieira (The Today Show), Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Lake Bell (Boston Legal), and Kristin Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) as ogre-hunting witches; Jane Lynch (Glee) as Gretched; Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the ogre leader of an underground resistance group; Megan Fox (Transformers film series) as a princess; Ryan Seacrest (American Idol); and Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin [Dorhn voiced several incidental characters in Shrek the Third].

Other cast members for the film include (as listed on Wikipedia and IMDb):

* Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian
* John Cleese as King
* Justin Timberlake as King Artie
* Amy Poehler as Snow White
* Maya Rudolph as Rapunzel
* Amy Sedaris as Cinderella
* Cheri Oteri as Sleeping Beauty
* Conrad Vernon as Gingy, Mongo
* Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf
* Christopher Knights as Three Blind Mice
* Cody Cameron as Pinocchio, The Three Little Pigs
* Chris Miller as Magic Mirror
* Ian McShane as Captain Hook
* Craig Robinson as Cookie
* Regis Philbin as Mabel (Ugly Stepsister)
* Larry King as Doris (Ugly Stepsister)
* John Krasinski as Lancelot

: The Sydney Morning Herald published an interview May 28th with Mike Myers reflecting on his role in the Shrek film series.

: The May 28th print edition of Entertainment Weekly Magazine has a feature article on Shrek Forever After interviewing Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.

: On May 21st, ABC News interviewed Walt Dohrn, who shares the inspirations for his performance as Rumpelstiltskin:

Dohrn…has worked at DreamWorks Animation for eight years and spent most of that time on the studio’s “Shrek” franchise, says he had mixed emotions about his new job:

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to really step outside my skill set and I have to step outside my dark little room and really put myself out there.'”

Dohrn said he borrowed from a wide range of sources, taking the fast-talking drive of Sean Penn in 1985 film “The Falcon and the Snowman” and infusing the conniving sweetness of a child murderess in 1956 movie “The Bad Seed.”

: The Washington Post published an interview May 21st with Walt Dohrn discussing his role as Rupelstiltskin and his early influences that led him to a career in animation.

: AccessHollywood.com has video interviews from the Shrek Forever After premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival with Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, and a separate interview with Antonio Banderas.

: Via toonzone.net: Walt Dohrn discusses his role as Rumplestiltskin in the LA Times:

Truth be told, Dohrn isn’t even an actor at all. He’s head of story at DreamWorks Animation. “I started writing the scenes with the writers and directors, and we would put the scenes on the wall, and we would just be playing with that voice back and forth,” Dohrn says. “It just started to evolve. Rumple hadn’t been cast and people started falling more and more in love with the voice [I was doing] and the design.”

One of his vocal inspirations was the child murderess in the 1956 film “The Bad Seed” because “there was this fake innocence about her but any minute she could turn. We also liked Bette Davis in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’ — that character had the youthfulness with this really scary edge. And then there was the Sean Penn character in ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ — we got the really fast talking for Rumple from him. It was quite the stew.”

: Movieweb.com attended DreamWorks’ 2010 film presentation on Jan. 15th, and for those who enjoy spoilers Movieweb describes the action from the film.

: Mirror.co.uk published an interview January 31st with Glee cast member Jane Lynch who briefly mentions her role in Shrek Forever After:

I’m playing an ogre called [Gretched] – it’s going to be a bit like It’s A Wonderful Life. I did voiceovers for several years – for radio and television in the mid-90s – and I really enjoy that work. There’s nothing better than voicing a character. You don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing, you’ve got the script in front of you, and it doesn’t involve your body, it’s all about your voice, and it’s really fast work.

And following are some related trailers and interviews via YouTube:

View the official trailer on Shrek.com.


Voice Actor Doppelgangers: Mike Myers

12.16.2009

Following up on the success of my first entry in this series (it’s one of this blog’s top 5 most-viewed pages — 1,400+ and counting)…

Separated at birth? Attack of the clone? Evil nemesis?

You decide…

Mike Myers (Shrek movie series) as Austin Powers:

Mike Myers as Austin Powers in 'Goldmember' (screencap courtesy New Line Cinema)

…and singer-songwriter Ben Folds (judge on NBC’s The Sing-Off):

Ben Folds on NBC's "The Sing-Off" (image courtesy NBC.com)


Forbes Ranks ‘Animation’s A-List Actors’

03.20.2009

Must have been a slow news day for Forbes to cause reporter Lauren Straub to make the effort to research and rank “Animation’s A-List Actors” which Straub defines as the “10 most successful actors at getting audiences to tune into ‘toons.”

Straub says, “To collect the list of animation’s A-list, we looked at the animated films released since 1980 that earned at least $50 million domestically and compiled a list of every actor who portrayed a top-billed character in at least one of the movies. We ranked the actors based on the film’s box-office earnings and the actor’s media presence tied to the film. If an actor was in more than one movie, the figures were averaged.”

And the resulting list:

Eddie Murphy
Mike Myers
Cameron Diaz
Owen Wilson
Tim Allen
Tom Hanks
Robin Williams
Ellen DeGeneres
Jack Black
Ben Stiller

I think it’s important to note that Straub’s list ignores the co-stars of the films mentioned: Ellen DeGeneres’ Finding Nemo co-star Albert Brooks; Owen Wilson’s Cars co-stars Dan Whitney (aka Larry The Cable Guy), Bonnie Hunt, and Paul Newman; Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda co-stars Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, and Jackie Chan; and Ben Stiller’s Madagascar co-stars Chris Rock and Alec Baldwin. This makes the list appear to be subjective selections, which in my opinion negates the entire point of the article.

The article continues:

Casting an animation role isn’t as simple as finding a big name. “As a casting director, I’d like to hire the best person for the job,” say Ruth Lambert, a casting director. But, she adds, big-name stars are a way for production companies to get better distribution and better financing, especially in the international market. “A lot of times we end up hiring people not because they are right for the part but for what they can provide.”

Though A-listers can bring comedic talent that transcends star power. Lisa Stewart, a producer on the upcoming Monsters vs. Aliens, says the project’s stars brought an invaluable talent for improvisation. Producers would bring Seth Rogen or Stephen Colbert into the recording studio with some lines and “let them go,” says Stewart. “We’d just be on the other side of the booth in hysterics.”

Straub also incorrectly credits Robin Williams as “one of the first big-name actors to voice an animated character,” when it actually originated with Walt Disney hiring stars from radio, stage, and film to voice characters in his animated features some 50 years before the studio hired Williams to voice the Genie in Aladdin. Furthermore, it was not The Lion King but Transformers: The Movie (1986) that was genuinely the first animated feature where a studio actively recruited several celebrities for lead characters and used their “star power” to promote the film (as I discussed here previously).

Straub goes on to offer other inaccuracies and contradictions in her article, although she did finally get it right when she said, “The lasting appeal of a film’s characters clearly trumps the fleeting popularity of today’s voice-over stars.”

I’ve no doubt that Pixar’s films like the Toy Story movies, Cars, and The Incredibles would have been no less entertaining regardless of who voiced the lead roles. With Pixar’s track record, they could have cast complete unknowns and yet those films would still have been successful because they strive to maintain a high standard of quality…which doesn’t seem to be of much concern to the studios cranking out formulaic animated crap. Pixar also understands and emphasizes what is most important about a film: the story and the characters. And if studios could make quality animated films with an entertaining story and likable characters, and cast actors who actually fit the characters rather than casting celebrities based on their potential box office draw, the films would likely be more commercially successful. And there’s plenty of evidence that star voices have done little to boost the success of some animated films, like the recent The Tale of Despereaux, for example, which barely cracked $50 million at the box office despite the celebrity voice cast.

While casting Hollywood stars may indeed convince a small percentage of the public to see an animated film, it ultimately boils down to the film’s overall entertainment value as to whether it becomes successful (although there are exceptions, like the critically-acclaimed The Iron Giant, which Warner Bros made no real effort to promote).

Animated films are generally made for kids and families anyway. And if kids aren’t interested in seeing it, celebrity casting adds little to no value towards making the film a hit with the target demographic. As casting director Lambert says in the article, “I have a 7-year-old son, and he doesn’t care who’s in the movie. He just wants to be amused.”

Source: ToonZone.net