15 things you (probably) didn’t know about Shrek
Screencap from Shrek

This week, everyone’s favourite family film featuring farting ogres and a wise-cracking donkey turns 15, and we can’t believe it’s been that long since our first encounter with the big green giant in that surprisingly cosy-looking swamp.

We are of course, talking about Shrek. But while you may consider it to be one of your childhood favourites, but how much do you really know about DreamWorks’ biggest claim to fame?

Here are fifteen fascinating bits of trivia.

1. Shrek was originally from Canada

Screencap from Shrek

Before going back and re-recording all of his lines in the movie, Shrek actor Mike Myers actually gave the character a Canadian voice.

We think we speak for everyone when we say “thank the heavens he changed it”, because the broad Scottish accent was one of the most memorable things about the movie, and made everything that much more quotable.

2. Smash Mouth’s “All Star” wasn’t meant to be in the film

The ludicrously catchy ‘All Star’, a song that has since become a signature for the movie franchise, wasn’t even meant to be in the final cut of the movie.

The original plan was to use the song only for pre-release versions of the film, but the audience’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to the inclusion of the song lead to a re-think on the soundtrack.

3. Cameron Diaz is basically Fiona


Apparently, the scene in which Fiona burps out-loud in the movie was based on a moment where Cameron Diaz actually overtly burped in front of the director.

If you’re looking for character likeness, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better example.

4. Shrek means ‘monster’ in Yiddish

Screencap from Shrek

When translated into Yiddish, a Germanic language with just over three million approximated speakers, the word ‘shrek’ is commonly used to mean ‘monster’.

All he wants to do is live in his swamp in peace, and yet his very name undermines his existence. Deep.

5. The effects department actually took mud showers

Shrek mud shower

In order to fully understand how it would feel to have a mud shower, and how the mud itself would fall and look, the effects department working on the film actually went to the effort of standing in mud showers, which is a call beyond duty that cannot go without commendation.

6. Its computer animation took four and a half years

An incredible length of time to spend on a project, we’re sure you’ll agree, although the film was first conceived in about 1991. So considering its total production time, the long animating period was the tip of the iceberg.

7. “Ogres have layers” is a reference to a play

Shrek mic

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen first coined the notion of layers and onions in his play Peer Gynt, the opening of which sees the title character describe himself in a very, very similar way to Shrek’s “ogres have layers” scene of the movie.

Some surprisingly highbrow artistic referencing, there.

8. Lord Farquaad had a business plan

Lord Farquaad

In a deleted scene, it is revealed that Lord Farquaad actually had a long-term plan for the town of Duloc.

The scene was cut eventually, but it showed Farquaad evaluating the possibility of turning the whole town into one large supermarket.

9. It was originally going to be done in stop motion

Stop-motion animation is widely adored but absurdly impractical now-a-days, and the size of the first Shrek movie made it an even more impractical method of shooting, so it’s no surprise the producers decided to ditch the Play-Doh for CGI fairly early on.

10. Shrek used to be a moody teenager

Shrek kid

Early concept art depicts Shrek as a moody teenager living with his parents and keeping raw meat in his room, sleeping by a rubbish bin in the middle of an alleyway to boot.

So yes, it could have turned out rather differently.

11. Robin Hood knows Riverdance

Robin Hood dance

The routine used in the Riverdance musical is precisely the one that Robin Hood and his band of merry men perform when Shrek and co. encounter them in the forest.

12. Mark Zuckerberg stole Farquaad’s logo

Farquaad logo

Okay, so this one may or may not be true, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Many people have noted that Lord Farquaad’s logo looks suspiciously similar to the logo for Facebook, despite the fact that Mark Zuckerberg filed the copyright for the Facebook logo in 2004, three years after Shrek was first released.

13. Nicolas Cage turned down the lead role

The famously eccentric star reportedly passed on the role of Shrek because he didn’t want children to see him as a big ugly ogre.

Since when did Nicolas Cage become all self conscious?

14. Bill Murray was also touted as a possible Shrek

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

When the movie was first conceived, and Steven Spielberg was sniffing around the production, Murray was actually the planned actor for the lead role.

Witty quips aside, Bill Murray makes everything better, so as good as Myers is, we can see how he’d have nailed it.

15. It saved DreamWorks

Shrek happy

Maybe ‘saved’ is the wrong word, but it’s definitely true that the success of Shrek is the sole reason why DreamWorks is Pixar’s major competition in animation.

The green, onion-like ogre helped turn the studio around, and look at them now: teaching us how to train dragons and stuff.


10 surprising things Steven Spielberg helped create

7 things you learn as a Pixar animator 

Movie sidekicks more badass than the heroes they served